Tax survey: 41 percent of foreign firms have to pay bribes in Vietnam

By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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People wait to file tax forms at an office in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang People wait to file tax forms at an office in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang

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A new survey has found that when it comes to tax procedures in Vietnam, foreign companies are more likely to be asked to pay "unofficial fees" to tax officials. 
The survey conducted last year by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) found 41 percent of foreign-invested firms in the country had to offer under-the-table money to be treated properly.
The rate among Vietnamese private firms is 33 percent, and for state-owned enterprises it is 19 percent.
Many of the respondents said they did not complain about bribe solicitations to avoid "damaging the relationship" with the officials. Some believed that lawsuits would only cost them more money.
The survey found that half of the companies faced “unnecessary troubles” with the tax officials, usually for tax registration and tax declaration.
'No change'
VCCI, which represents thousands of businesses in the country, sent the questions to around 10,000 businesses operating in Vietnam, but only around 2,500 responded.
The survey was the first conducted by the business chamber on tax procedures.
Economist Vu Quoc Tuan said that many businesses are no longer interested this kind of survey "because they have seen no change."
Tuan said customs and tax agencies held discussions with businesses every year, but words did not translate into action. 
“Businesses have expressed their opinions and they don’t really feel that they are being listened to.”
The General Tax Department said it has saved businesses more than 420 hours at tax offices by abolishing hundreds of procedures over the past year.
Economists said if the agency puts most of the procedures online, businesses will not have to meet tax officials and they will not have to pay bribes.

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