Paying tax is a responsibility of every citizen, be they individual or corporate.
Yet, in Myanmar which has been running budget deficits since 2012, there are many who avoid paying taxes, including some restaurants.
Myanmar government recently demanded restaurants stick tax stamps on the receipts, to show that consumers already pay 5 per cent commercial tax to the government.
Deputy Director of the Internal Revenue Department Myo Min Zaw said: “Restaurants should be honest since the customers already pay the tax. If any restaurant is found to cheat with the tax stamps, it should be reported to the department. The restaurants will receive a warning in the first step. Then, they will suffer from a financial penalty. They could also face a lawsuit.”
Under the order, the restaurants in Yangon Region must stick the stamps which have to be the same amount of the tax that customers pay.
Stamps are available in different amounts ranging from Ks 50, 100, 200 to 500. At the end of the month, the restaurants have to transfer the Internal Revenue Department the collected commercial tax, equivalent to the aggregate value of stamps on customers’ receipts.
However, restaurants and food canteens in Myanmar rarely obey this rule. They take advantage of consumers’ taxes.
Consumers often see their receipts without any stamp. When they request for a stamp, the restaurant staff will reluctantly give them the stamp. Worse, the given stamps may be of a lower amount than what customers really pay. It needs not to be said: they are benefiting from the differential.
Customers, knowing they are being cheated, are not happy with such matter. Unfortunately, some do not want to make a scene. They often failed to ask for any stamp.
It remains to be seen if the disgruntled customers would bother to report this to the authorities and if any actions would be launched against these restaurants. Well, it is the duty of decent customers to make reports, or the authorities would never know who are cheating. Such reports would then serve as a warning to all restaurants that they should strictly obey the order.
The 5 per cent commercial tax may be little, if you spend Ks 3,000 for a noodle. In that case, the tax stamp is worth only Ks 150. But imagine 5 per cent from 100,000 noodle bowls at the same price, that is equivalent to Ks 15 million. If this consumption rate stays for a month, the amount would rise to Ks 450 million.
Just remember that in the next fiscal year, the government plans to run a budget deficit of Ks 3 trillion. Consumers do their job in paying commercial taxes and they may need to do more to ensure that all paid taxes go to the government.