Law firm wins long-running case against Ho Chi Minh City tax office

By Phan Thuong - Hong Suong, Thanh Nien News

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 A file photo of Ho Chi Minh City Tax Office. Photo: Kha Hoa
An appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday upheld a verdict that requires the city's tax office to return over nearly VND461 million (US$20,300) of taxes and fines that it wrongfully collected from a legal firm in 2013. 
The court heard that Indochina Legal, which was launched in 2007, was exempt from paying income taxes in the first two years of business and offered a 50 percent tax cut in the following three years. 
But tax officers, after an inspection, found that the firm was not eligible for the tax incentives, citing a tax circular. 
They then ordered the company to pay more than VND462 million ($20,350) in back taxes and another VND143 million ($6,300) in fines.
After the law firm complained about the large amount, the tax office recalculated and adjusted the total figure to VND461 million. 
After complaining to the tax office about its decision and getting no response, the firm paid the money, but at the same time, filed a lawsuit against the tax office. 
At the first hearing at the end of last year, the panel of judges found that the tax office was wrong when denying the law firm tax incentives that it deserved. They said the tax circular which the office based their decision on had already become invalid.  
The judges ordered the office to return all the money. 
The office appealed the verdict, but the court on Wednesday sided with the law firm again. 
Indochina Legal has also been seeking an extra of over VND40 million ($1,700) as compensation, but the appeal court asked it to file a new lawsuit for that. 

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