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Taxes may be paid on-line next year
E-payments of VAT begin here slowly by Karnjana Karnjanatawe

Next year, taxpayers will no longer have to waste time standing in line behind counters at the Revenue Department to pay their taxes.

It will be possible to make electronic payments (e-payments) for all categories of taxes, including income tax, following the department's launch of VAT payments, its first online service, last month.

To pay taxes online, a taxpayer must apply for the service at http://www.rd.go.th. The Revenue Department will then ask to check the taxpayer's identity in person before they receive a user ID and password.

The taxpayer, however, must have an account with one of three commercial banks - Krung Thai Bank, Siam Commercial Bank or Bank of Asia.

Later the service will be extended to those with accounts with Thai Farmers Bank, Citibank and Bangkok Bank. To support the growth of users, the department plans to upgrade its system; replacing the current SSL128 bit technology with Public Key and Private Key Infrastructure 
technology and doubling network bandwidth nationwide. Around Baht 28 million have been set aside for this purpose.

Director of the Internet tax payment system department Praomart Huntra said that after closely monitoring VAT online payments for a month he had found that lack of confidence in e-transaction security was not the problem, but rather a lack of basic computer skills of the taxpayer.

"This was because most taxpayers are accountants who are not familiar with operating computers. During the first month of the service, we had to teach them basic computer skills such as how to download a program or how to choose fonts," said Ms Praomart.

To solve the problem, the Revenue Department now provides an electronic manual with step-by-step procedures of how to use the program and e-mail service and also offers training for taxpayers at the department's computer centre on Phaholyothin Road.

The Revenue Department started its online VAT payment service with the aim of offering an alternative means of payment for taxpayers, to decrease the operation costs, to reduce mistakes due to human error and to get around operating hour limitations and also to be in line with the policy on e-government.

During May, some 135 companies had registered to use the service, but only 43 of these had fully submitted all the requested information. However only 24 companies had made e-payment transactions, with the value of e-tax payments being around Baht 300,000.-

In June, 128 companies had applied for the service, with one company conducting a transaction this month so far.

"The hard part is to learn how to operate the program the first time, but after taxpayers know how they get used to it very quickly. The benefit is that our system can also help them check if they have filled out the right form or not. That can prevent errors while we can speed up our working process", she noted.

"The online transactions can be made until 10 p.m. every day. After that, we send out a receipt by post to arrive the next day", said Revenue Department Director-General Suparut Kawatkul.

The process can shorten the time for taxpayer to make a payment to only a few minutes, he noted.

Although the electronic commerce law has not yet been enforced, these e-payments can be conducted since there was a method to prove who the taxpayers were while when the payment was received there was a way to show that the payment had been complete, he added. 

Corporate taxpayers are also encouraged to use the online VAT payment system. Mr Suparut said if companies paid VAT on-line and were eligible for a VAT refund, they would receive it within 30 days, compared to a manual system, where the refund would take around 60 days.

IT Office Director Suri Buakhom said the department had also drafted its three-year IT Master Plan to computerize all its working processes for both internal users and to serve the public. Around Baht 1 billion was the total budget sought.

It is aiming to be a paperless office and to increase its working capacity with IT.

Web based mail and e-forms would be introduced to replace all paperwork. Information would also be linked to other departments such as the Customs Department, Minister of Interior and Ministry of Commerce so that officers could cross check information.

In addition, more than 20 projects would be implemented to computerize each type of tax payment system. 

Bangkok Post, June 13, 2001

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