Nine international business chambers have called on the General Department of Taxation (GDT) to extend the deadline for filing tax on income for fiscal year 2020 past March 31 in light of economic pressure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A joint letter addressed to GDT director-general Kong Vibol on March 12 revealed the signatories as the International Business Chamber of Cambodia (IBC) and the chambers of commerce in Cambodia for the US (AmCham), Australia, the UK, Europe (EuroCham), India, Japan (JBAC), Malaysia (MBCC) and the Philippines.
The letter stressed the need to temporarily suspend in-person meetings, especially for taxpayers undergoing audits or new ones looking to register.
It asked the GDT to conduct digital meetings between taxpayers or their representatives through messaging platforms such as Telegram or WhatsApp and to hold essential audit meetings via business communications platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
The signatories lauded the government’s prompt response to the February 20 community outbreak of Covid-19, highlighting its rapid tracing efforts, recommendations that 90 per cent of the Kingdom’s workforce stay at home to help contain the transmission, as well as reinforced rules concerning mask-wearing, social-distancing and movement restrictions.
But if virtually the entire national workforce were to stay at home, “this would present an extraordinary challenge to taxpayers to complete income tax returns within the deadline or to attend in-person meetings as a result of circumstances beyond their control”, it said.
The letter noted that the latest community transmission has accelerated growth in the number of new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections nationwide, sparking deep concerns among the workforce over the risk of contagion.
On the flip side, it said, the government has one of the best records globally of managing the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The undersigned international business chambers would like to express our sincere appreciation for [GDT’s] cooperation with the international business sector,” read the letter.
MBCC vice-president Tan Khee Meng told The Post that the February 20 community outbreak has led to a lot of slowdown for companies currently undergoing audits to publish their year-end financial statements.
“The GDT should be considerate and provide some breathing room for taxpayers and the accountancy and tax professionals, which will help cut down the potential spread of Covid-19 during this critical period,” he said.
AmCham president Anthony Galliano told The Post that the government’s stay-at-home order has reoriented the mentality of the populace and has shifted the Covid-19 objectives to “abundant caution and staying safe and secure”.
On the other hand, he noted that workforce productivity has tailed off recently as businesses now operate at partial capacity.
“The chambers are requesting an extension for the annual tax-on-income submission, due March 31, due to these factors, as businesses are currently under stress managing their workforce remotely and resources are not [at] full strength,” he said.
Galliano explained that income tax declarations are 20-page documents used to calculate and pay the profit tax due each year, which he says is generally 20 per cent.
The form includes a balance sheet, two profit-and-loss statements – one prepared on an accounting basis and another on a tax basis, an equity schedule, a depreciation schedule with a catalogue of fixed assets, and schedules for related-party transactions, he said.
The businesses are required to pay the annual profit tax to the government, which is a source of tax revenue, and the form itself has been a key document in audits, he added.