Improved VAT procedures expected to make paying taxes easier

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The Ministry of Finance launched today the new Implementing Instructions for the revised value-added tax (VAT) Law, which were approved in January 2017. The revised instructions will make the tax collection procedures more transparent. This is expected to make paying taxes easier for local businesses, and contribute to improving Lao PDR’s business climate.

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“We are pleased to present the new VAT implementing instructions both within the Government and to the tax payer. They are an important step to improve the tax system of Lao PDR,” said Bounchom Ubonpaseuth, Vice Minister in the Ministry of Finance.

Preparation of the implementing instructions was part of the Public Finance Management Modernization Program, a high priority of the Lao PDR Government aimed to strengthen capacity to manage public finances. A trust fund financed by the European Union and implemented by the World Bank, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and other government agencies, has been providing technical, analytical and advisory assistance. Prior to the official launch, 35 tax officials representing all of the provinces and the central government participated in a week-long training by the World Bank on how to roll out the new instructions.

“The EU has a long standing record in supporting Lao PDR in collecting more and spending better, with our budget support programs and direct financial support to domestic public finance reforms,” said Bryan Fornari, Head of Cooperation of the European Delegation to Lao PDR. The revision of the VAT instructions forms part of this support.”

VAT is a tax on the purchase of goods and services within the country. The vendor collects VAT from the customer and passes it on to the Government. With implementation of VAT, Lao PDR joins the 160 countries that are already using VAT and moves in the direction of general tax practices recommended by the World Trade Organization, which Lao PDR joined in 2013.

“The World Bank is pleased to support Lao PDR in strengthening their capacity to manage public finances,” said Sally Burningham, World Bank Country Manager for Lao PDR. “Collection of taxes allows Lao PDR to provide much-needed resources for social services to the poor.”

The revised implementing instructions clarify how VAT is calculated and how goods entering and exiting special economic zones should be treated. Most importantly, the instructions simplify requirements and procedures for VAT refunds, as well as registration and de-registration of VAT payers.

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