Foreigners still encounter problems with tax refunds on goods purchased in Vietnam subject to value added tax (VAT).
The General Department of Customs officially opened offices to refund VAT to international travellers at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat International airports on July 1.
According to the Noi Bai International Airport Customs Department, in July, only 38 foreigners received VAT refunds, totaling VND74 million (USD3,523). The official number was still up from those of August, which came to VND70 million (USD3,333). Most of the applicable goods were imported clothes, bags, wallets, jewelleries and leather belts.
However, some problems still exist, hindering the VAT refund application for foreigners.
A number of tourists submitted purchase invoices for VAT refunds, but the papers were not considered valid because they were issued by companies which are not in the list of firms in the pilot VAT refund programme. Many invoices were deemed invalid because of stipulations in Circular 58/2012/TT-BTC on the VAT refund for foreigners.
Many shops and companies not included in the list of firms on the pilot VAT refund programme have tried to sell their products, instructing people that their purchases would be valid on VAT invoices. However, the confusion has led to many upset travelers who were not informed about the status of their purchases until they reached their airports.
Currently, the VAT refund process uses manual input methods and has not been digitized, while the ratio of VAT cases to customs officers is about 1-2.
By August 3, as many as 30 companies have been put on the list of the pilot VAT refund programme, including 18 in HCM City.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Department said that closer co-operation is needed between tax, customs, tourism, banking and aviation agencies. They also added that modern technology should be implemented for VAT refunds at international ports. Simple communications issues are also at play, including informative leaflets handed out during flights.