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Tax-free Chinese new year shopping given a nudge

Jan 23. 2019
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EFFORTS are being stepped up to win over more shoppers to a promotion providing refunds on value-added tax (VAT) for purchases during the Chinese new year after a poor initial response to the scheme.

The more active approach from the Ministry of Finance and 17 commercial banks in promoting the tax-free shopping comes after only 7,000 people registered to take part in the ministry’s scheme.

Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), said the ministry was hoping that hundreds of thousand people would participate in the VAT refund scheme during the upcoming Chinese new year.

Aside from the 7,000 people that have registered, more than 15,000 shops have done so. Registrations opened on January 7 and will close on January 30. 

 “Earlier, we had to concede that we conducted less public activities as we were setting up the system. One issue was how many debit cards could be used. Earlier, only card one was allowed,” he said, adding that 10 debit cards are now allowed. 

Lavaron said that the 17 commercial banks will help by doing more to publicise the scheme and “we believe that more people will make registrations during the remaining seven days”.

He said that the registration is required due to the laws relating to the handling of personal information. For the holders of debit cards, their banks will separate tax |data from total expenses and send such data to the Revenue Department.

 “We don’t want chaos to arise in project participation. But given the legal requirements for information disclosure, we have to ask the scheme’s participants to agree to the information disclosure,” Lavaron said. “And we insist that the registration will not be used for tax considerations.”

For the scheme, the participating shoppers will receive a 5 per cent VAT refund on purchases of at least Bt1,000 or through debit cards or QR code on spending of Bt21,400 per person for products and services from February 1-15. The refund will be made through PromptPay issuing identification cards by November.

“The reason for not making immediate refunds is that the state has not set a budget for it. Next fiscal year, which will start this October, is expected to have a budget of Bt7 billion for the refund,” Lavaron said.

Each registered person can select more than one commercial bank and can spend from more than one account number through debit card or QR code in each bank. Each participant can register no more than 10 account numbers. 

Products and services excluded from the scheme extend from liquor, tobacco, oil and oil products to cars and motorcycles.


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