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Saigon Tax Department Orders Facebook Cosmetic Vendor to Pay $400,000 in Back Taxes

An online retailer in Saigon has been ordered to pay an unprecedented VND9.1 billion (US$400,000) in back taxes.

Tuoi Tre reports that the woman, whose identity wasn’t revealed, lives in Phu Nhuan District and runs a shop on Facebook selling imported cosmetics. The Ho Chi Minh City Tax Department received a tip-off about her business’ dubious financial situation and launched an investigation into the company.

After going through her personal account and bank data, the probe found that she had intentionally under-declared her income, creating a tax discrepancy of VND400 billion (US$17.6 million).

Initially, the department intended to involve the police in order to charge the woman with tax evasion. However, these charges were reduced to late payment and incorrect tax declaration after the woman agreed to fulfill her tax duties. The total amount included fines for the aforementioned charges, as well as tax arrears.

Tuoi Tre shared in a separate article more details on how the cosmetic mogul conducts business. According to the investigation by Saigon’s tax department, her Facebook page currently has some 56,000 followers, 20,000 to 30,000 of whom watch her livestreams to get tips on skincare and product promotions.

Her merchandise includes a vast range of beauty products such as whitening cream, diet pills and other skincare products. Apart from many private customers, she also distributes products wholesale to other shops. All of these transactions were made through her personal bank account, while the company is registered as a “household business”.

The tax inspection team also found that the woman only made VND120 million (US$5,268) in 2013. However, her revenue ballooned to VND95 billion (US$4.2 million) in 2015 and VND344 billion (US$15.15 million) in 2016.

According to the news source, at the moment Vietnam’s Penal Code stipulates that attempts to evade tax on amounts from VND300 million to below VND1 billion can be punished with a fine of VND500 million to VND1.5 billion, or with one to three years behind bars.

Recently, VietnamNet reported that Hanoi’s Tax Department has also started going after online retailers. Since June, over 13,400 owners of local Facebook shops have received text messages from the department asking them to register their business, declare income and fulfill their tax obligations.

[Top photo via Reuters]

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