Tax authorities in Hanoi Monday released a list of 23 businesses, mostly in property and construction, that have defaulted on tax payments.
As of May 30 they owed more than VND1.23 trillion (US$56.52 million) in back taxes, of which property developer Song Da - Thang Long Joint Stock Company accounted for 30.4 percent.
The same day the agency also named 15 projects that failed to pay land-use fees of over VND1.2 trillion ($54.95 million) as of June 30.
Speaking to Thanh Nien, Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, chief of the agency's taxpayers support office, said all the businesses were more than 90 days behind in paying their taxes.
For some companies, the delay was caused by outside factors like economic difficulties, while some "deliberately" delayed their payments, she said.
Her agency had tried many measures, from reminding the companies to slapping fines, without success, she said.
Even before the list was published, it had given them a chance to explain their delays and time to pay their dues, but they still failed to pay up, she said.
"We know once the businesses' name are publicized, their operations, their partners, and the whole business environment will be affected. But, the tax agency can't help but do it."
Those that continue to default will have their bank accounts blocked or invoices invalidated, according to the tax agency.
Yen said those showing signs of trying to evade the taxes would have their cases transferred to the police.
Meanwhile, the spokespersons of some of the companies listed told Thanh Nien that they have been "urgently" paying up part or all of their back taxes.
Nguyen Tri Dung, chairman of Song Da-Thang Long JSC, claimed that his company's taxes had been inaccurately calculated, as they included value-added tax which should have not been added.
Yen told Thanh Nien that the Hanoi tax office is still reviewing payments and would release another list of shame.
Last week the Ministry of Finance had ordered the tax department and tax offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to each publish the names of 100 businesses with the highest unpaid taxes.
The ministry estimates total back taxes at VND72 trillion ($3.29 billion), or 10 percent of tax collections, twice the limit allowed by the National Assembly.
Soon after Hanoi, the HCMC tax agency too published a list of 21 businesses with unpaid taxes totaling nearly VND298 billion ($13.64 million).
Eight of them are in construction and property.
Speaking to Thanh Nien, many economists said the tax authorities should be cautious when deciding which businesses to name and shame.
Businesses defaulting deliberately need to be hauled up while those that have good records but failed to pay taxes due to temporary difficulties need to be supported, one of them, Ngo Tri Long, said.
Nguyen Hoang Hai, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Financial Investors, agreed with Long, saying authorities should restructure debts for businesses genuinely in trouble.
Only then can businesses continue to make profits to pay taxes, he said.