Government Ready to Collect Vehicle Tax

The Ministry of Finance on Nov 1 will begin its annual collection of motor vehicle registration tax, according to ministry officials.

Vehicle owners will have two months to pay the tax, which ranges from 3,000 riel ($0.76) for a 70cc motorbike to 1.2 million riel ($307) for a 2,000 ton ship, according to an Oct 12 ministry statement.

The tax is an important source of revenue for the government.

In 1997, the Finance Ministry collected about 3.75 billion riel ($961,500).

This year, said tax department Director Hong Tha, officials hope to increase that to nearly 4 billion riel ($1 million).

That goal, however, depends on whether the government can get people to pay.

Hong Tha said he does not know how many people avoid paying the tax but anecdotal evidence suggests that many drivers, mainly of motorbikes, evade the tax until they get caught by police.

“I will not pay,” Chan Dary, a motortaxi driver at Phsar Dang­kao, said Sunday.

Last year, he said angrily, he was forced to pay when caught by tax officials at a checkpoint. But several times he was stopped by police and fined again because he had forgotten his tax certificate at home.

“This year I will avoid the police. They put the money in their pockets and it does not go to the budget,” he said.

Those who haven’t paid voluntarily by Dec 31 risk being fined double the amount of the tax they evaded, said Kao Ka Ol, Phnom Penh finance department deputy director.

From Jan 1, traffic police and tax collectors will team up and and set up inspection checkpoints to check vehicle drivers for tax certificates.

“The threat of fines will force people to comply with the law,” said Kao Kao Ol.

Money collected from fines will be divided among the treasury, national and local customs departments, traffic police and tax officials, according to the Finance Ministry statement.

But taxi drivers at Phsar Dang­kao said they were determined not to pay unless forced to by police and tax inspectors.

“I’m making no money right now,” said one taxi driver. “I’ll avoid the police if possible and only pay if forced to.”








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