In an unprecedented move, the Ministry of Finance has released a list of 600 big tax defaulters around the country, assuring that it will take strong measures to make them pay their debts estimated at over VND12.65 trillion (US$573.38 million) in total.
Tax agencies have been ordered to deduct money from the bank accounts of these companies, invalidate their invoices and even freeze the accounts if necessary, according to the ministry.
All the listed defaulters were more than 121 days behind deadlines for paying their taxes which were huge, it said.
Tax authorities have reminded them of the taxes many times in vain, it added.
The biggest unpaid back taxes were reported in Hanoi, where 200 businesses defaulted on over VND4.67 trillion ($211.63 million).
Meanwhile, 200 companies in Ho Chi Minh City, about 10 percent of which in the real estate sector, were accused of owing over VND3.51 trillion ($159.3 million) in taxes.
Many of the blacklisted companies were big players in their own sectors like electronics retailer Nguyen Kim, mobile phone retailer The Gioi Di Dong, and BITEXCO Land JSC, a subsidiary of BITEXCO Group, which owns HCMC's highest building BITEXCO Financial Tower.
Tien Phuoc Real Estate Joint Stock Company, one of three investors of a recently-licensed project to build Vietnam's tallest building Empire City, allegedly owed VND57.4 billion ($2.6 million).
Some individuals have been named in the list. Ho Chi Minh City for instance has three.
Right after the list was released many businesses rejected the ministry's allegations.
Nguyen Kim, for instance, said in a press release on Wednesday that it did not owe any back taxes, demanding authorities to remove it from the list.
Speaking to news website Zing, Dang Thanh Phong, spokesman of The Gioi Di Dong said his company was "very surprised" at being named and shamed as a tax defaulter.
The company has never had back taxes for many years, he said, adding his company also sent a complaint to tax authorities.
On the other hand, several companies told news website VnExpress that they were late to submit taxes not only because their business was difficult, but procedures for tax declaration and submission were "complicated," taking lots of energy and time.
Last year the Ministry of Finance inspected more than 67,000 businesses around the country, allowing it to collect over VND8 trillion ($362.38 million) in back taxes.
The full list, in an Excel file and in Vietnamese, can be found here
on the ministry's website.
Editor's note: The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World) has informed Thanh Nien that Ho Chi Minh City's tax agency removed the company from its list after reviewing its complaint.