Ministry To Force Vehicle Tax Evaders to Pay

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.”


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