The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Customs and Excise Department will force car owners who avoided taxes on their vehicles last year to pay up, according to a Jan 14 statement by Keat Chhon, the minister of Economy and Finance.
Only 3,000 car owners paid taxes in 2004, with some using fake plate numbers to avoid payment, Keat Chhon wrote. Customs authorities estimate that there are over 80,000 cars in the country.
“In order to avoid any bad consequences…the Ministry of Finance urges all…vehicle owners to pay taxes,” Keat Chhon wrote. His order, however, did not specifically mention taxes on motorbikes.
Those who pay taxes voluntarily will not be fined additional money as punishment, he added.
“The authorities from the Customs and Excise Department will work with authorities at all levels in order to catch [offenders] on public roads and houses to force [them] to pay the taxes,” he wrote.
Phnom Penh Municipality’s research and enforcement director Uy Kosal said that since his department started its crackdown on Friday, they have seized seven cars.
Car owners who are caught may be required to pay up to 90 percent more than the original taxes on the vehicles, he said. Taxes vary widely, depending on the type of vehicle.
Uy Kosal said his officers are registering car and motorbikes at each house. The department will write letters asking the owners to voluntarily pay taxes.
He added that his department will work with local authorities to institute checkpoints on roads to fine people who have unpaid taxes.
“I believe people will pay the tax because…the checkpoints are difficult to avoid,” he said.
Opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann on Sunday questioned why only 3,000 owners paid taxes in 2004. He accused government officials of using plate numbers from the vehicles of soldiers, police and other government officials to avoid paying taxes.
“I do not think the measure will be effective because powerful government officials…only use the unpaid taxes vehicles,” Yim Sovann said. “Customs officials dare to catch [everyone] but government officials.”