Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tax chief weighs in on huge Cambodia Daily bill

Tax chief weighs in on huge Cambodia Daily bill

Tax Department head Kong Vibol speaks at a meeting last year in Phnom Penh.
Tax Department head Kong Vibol speaks at a meeting last year in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Tax chief weighs in on huge Cambodia Daily bill

The head of the General Department of Taxation yesterday said the Cambodia Daily would have its licence suspended and its accounts frozen if it failed to pay or to formally dispute a $6 million tax bill by early next month.

The comments by Kong Vibol, made to government-aligned local outlet Fresh News, were yesterday backed up by a spokesman from the department, who rejected any suggestion of an agenda other than enforcing the law.

A leaked letter from the Tax Department to the company that owns the Daily, released on Friday, said it owes $2.39 million in back tax, almost $1 million in “additional tax” and almost $3 million in interest.

The release of the document – initially uploaded by the Facebook account of an opposition lawmaker, which he said was hacked – followed orders by Prime Minister Hun Sen for several ministries to probe the tax compliance of NGOs.

“The Cambodia Daily has 30 days to respond by submitting a complaint letter. If the newspaper does not submit a complaint letter it means they accept the re-audit to pay tax,” Vibol told Fresh News.

“If the company does not pay the debt, we will take taxation action like suspending its licence, freezing the company’s account and suspending its exports and imports.”

Tax Department spokesman Ream Ratha said other companies and groups had also received audit letters, though he declined to name them. He said the $6 million figure was “based on documents” but declined to elaborate further.

“We only practise the law,” Ratha said.

Clint O’Connell, the head of tax practice for DFDL Cambodia, said not-for-profit entities and organisations generally have been required to register for taxation for at least the last decade.

“It’s a misconception that you can be a non-for-profit but not register for tax,” he said.

Though certain tax exemptions are provided for under the law, he said they were only granted after registering and through a formal application process to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

These could include waiving taxes on profits and value added tax for those who qualify, he said.

The Daily’s owner, Deborah Krisher-Steele, said on Monday the paper was started as a “non-profit project” but was quoted by the newspaper yesterday saying that this did not mean that it was an NGO.

According to Krisher-Steele, it was registered as a business in April this year. She declined to discuss specifics yesterday until the matter was settled with the Tax Department.

“I intend to fully cooperate with their inquiries and plan to respond to them directly in a normal professional manner and channel,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97