Prime Minister Hun Sen said Saturday he would like to stop foreign teachers from being required to pay income tax both in Cambodia and their home country in order to attract more highly-skilled educators to work here.
Speaking at the official opening of the International School of Phnom Penh’s new campus in Meanchey district, Mr. Hun Sen said the Finance Ministry has proposed reaching out to other countries to end such “double taxation.”
Countries often negotiate bilateral treaties allowing companies to pay tax in only one country, and the prime minister suggested that income tax for teachers could be included in such deals in future.
“The negotiations will also help researchers and lecturers not to have double taxation, and this is one of the issues about attracting outstanding lecturers and researchers to Cambodia,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
Yet he suggested that present attempts to convince countries to stop taxing teachers who come to Cambodia have proved difficult.
“We hope that the rich countries do not take taxation from those lecturers, and keep those lecturers paying taxation in Cambodia, as Cambodia is a poor country,” he said.
“The rich countries are very stingy; they want those lecturers to pay tax in their own countries, but they come and ask Cambodia not to take tax in Cambodia.”
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said Sunday that Mr. Hun Sen’s proposal was only a suggestion for future negotiations and that the government would not unilaterally remove income taxes for foreign teachers.
“Usually double taxation agreements just cover corporate tax but this would mean that if we sign future double taxation agreements, they will include not only corporate tax but also personal income taxes,” Mr. Chuon Naron said.
“It would only be within double taxation agreements. It means if a teacher is paying tax in their country, they will not in Cambodia. Maybe you decide to pay income tax in Cambodia—then you don’t pay tax in your home country.”
“It is not scrapping taxes for teachers,” he said.
Ouk Chhayavy, acting president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said if foreign teachers are not required to pay tax in Cambodia, then the same encouragement should be given to lower-paid local teachers.
“It would be an injustice for local teachers and lecturers who already have lower salaries and pay tax to the state while the foreign lecturers have many benefits and high salaries in the thousands of dollars,” Ms. Chhayavy said.
“It will impact the lecturers’ spirits and efforts when the prime minister does not take taxation from foreign lecturers, because he is giving self-esteem to the foreign lecturers rather than to his own country’s lecturers,” she said.