Tax database REF#7915

25 Apr 2024 | Tax Issue Tackled

Last modified date: 25 Apr 2024

Issue Description

Taxation is a complex area. However, an effective and sustainable self-assessment tax system requires that taxpayers have a clear understanding of tax provisions and voluntarily comply with them. The current tax law and regulations are known to be very vague, which may leave room for interpretation.

Some specific provisions, which may be clear for the GDT’s auditor, may not be comprehensive from the taxpayer’s perspective.

  • Article 215 (1) of the Law on Taxation: “In the event of a business transfer or share transfer, the new owner assumes all tax liabilities of the business or enterprise.”

The provision seems to be very broad, unclear since any shareholder of a company regardless of percentage is one of the owners that can assume all the tax liabilities. This provision as outlined in issue No. 1 may need to be further clarified.

Questions surrounding unclear provisions within the law may have been already replied to by the GDT through previous cases. However, these replies – decisions, interpretations, and rulings on specific matters are not publicly accessible or available for reference, except for people being part of the discussion. This may leave the taxpayers not in the loop making costly mistakes over and over again.

Impact on business

The lack of accessibility of the GDT’s interpretation on specific tax provisions undermines the effective enforcement and compliance of certain provisions by businesses. In turn, it will weaken and question the credibility and the role of tax regulations and create a confusing business environment. It may even lead businesses to make bad decisions, resulting in a loss of revenue, a damage to their image and other potential harmful consequences. Businesses will be less competitive and the whole economy may slow down. Thus, businesses may have to allocate a sizable budget to deal with and protect themselves from the tax unpredictability instead of investing in Cambodia. This decline of investments will tarnish the image of Cambodia as an attractive destination for investment.

Recommendation

  • Develop an online database containing specific positions or interpretations on various tax provisions.

We propose that the GDT develop a comprehensive tax database, enabling taxpayers to easily access the GDT’s specific positions or interpretations on various tax provisions. This database would lend credibility to tax reassessments and any resulting administrative penalties. It would mitigate claims of good faith ignorance by taxpayers who neglect to consult this readily available resource relevant to their situations. The availability of such a database would also empower taxpayers and their advisors to be better informed, reducing instances of attributing lack of transparency to the GDT.

Dialogue with

Royal government of Cambodia

Initiative from Eurocham: The issue has been raised by the Tax Committee and was published into the Advocacy Compass on the 11th of April 2024.

National Counterparts

The General Department of Taxation

 

Contributors

Dr. Antoine Fontaine