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Settle unpaid car import taxes by Dec 31: Customs

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Owners of vehicles with a model year before 2021 that were brought into the Kingdom without paying import duties or other charges can reduce any levy obligations by 10-20 per cent if they pay them before the end of this year. Heng Chivoan

Settle unpaid car import taxes by Dec 31: Customs

General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) director-general Kun Nhem on October 27 reiterated a call on car owners who have yet to pay their respective import taxes and related fees to do so before December 31, in order to benefit from tax breaks currently on offer.

Nhem made the remarks at a virtual press conference on the progress of collecting these outstanding charges.

The GDCE had said in an October 12 letter that owners of vehicles with a model year before 2021 that were brought into Cambodia without paying import duties or other charges can reduce any levy obligations by 10-20 per cent if they pay them before the end of this year.

The letter said reductions in import taxes and other duties would be granted on a tiered scale based on the vehicle’s model year as follows: 20 per cent (prior to 2016), 15 per cent (2016-2018) and 10 per cent (2019-2020).

Owners of most right-hand drive vehicles, however, must still convert them to left-hand drive by June 30, 2022 or risk having them seized, dismantled or destroyed. The GDCE on September 9 said it would also waive related fines and other penalties until June 30, 2022.

Nhem stressed that these and other preferential policies set by the Ministry of Economy and Finance – the GDCE’s parent ministry – are geared “to alleviate the burden on car owners”.

He said owners of 542 such vehicles – 190 of which are right-hand drive – had volunteered to pay their obligations, between “the commencement of tax collection” and October 26.

Cambodia Automotive Industry Federation executive director Soeun Dara welcomed these concessions and associated moves, which he said exemplify the government’s commitment to promptly stamp out illegal imports of vehicles, as well as to ensure optimal tax collection and effective enforcement of traffic laws.

He opined that these tax breaks are designed to make the collection process easier and more efficient, and serves as a message to other such owners to pay their dues timely and avoid the import or operation of vehicles that infringe applicable laws, acts he says could cost the state tax revenue and affect competition in the Cambodian automotive industry.

Nhem acknowledged concerns over the lack of garages in Cambodia that can convert vehicles to left-hand drive, a time-consuming process which he said influenced the decision to set the deadline to June 30, 2022 for the conversion.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport only recognises two or three such garages, The Post understands.

To better accommodate those who need to have the conversion done, the finance ministry has asked its transport counterpart to look into granting more licences to specialised garages that can do the job well, Nhem said.

Nonetheless, come July 1 “the GDCE will strictly and actively implement the Royal Government’s measures and crack down on vehicles that have not had their import duties or other charges paid”, he warned.

“This is the last opportunity that the Royal Government will grant owners of [such] vehicles … both left and right-hand drive … [they] must come fulfil their obligations in a timely manner.”

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