Union Tax Law 2019: Everything you need to know about amnesty, exemptions and significant changes

30
Sep
2019

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The Union Taw Law (“UTL”) 2019 was enacted on 24 September 2019 by the Union Parliament (the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) and will be applicable for the Financial Year (“FY”) 2019-2020 (1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020). With the new income year commencing on 1 October 2019 and the Tax Administration Law (“TAL”) coming into force, some of the more exciting changes under the UTL 2019 for taxpayers include the tax amnesty provided on undisclosed sources of income and the exemption of Specific Goods Tax (“SGT”) for petroleum products upon exportation.

Specific Goods Tax changes

It is noteworthy that the total number of specific goods has been reduced from 17 to 14 specific goods, as gems and jewelry have been excluded from the category. However, this does not mean that such goods are now exempted from the tax. The UTL 2019 has introduced a new category of tax called a ‘Jewelry Tax,’ and all goods related to gems and jewelry will fall under this category.

Importation, production, and local sale of specific goods

Although SGT rates for cigarettes have been increased, the price ranges remain the same as the former UTL 2018-2019. In addition, the SGT rate for cheroot has been increased from 50 to 75 pya per cheroot. 

As for liquor, prices lower than MMK200 per liter will be exempted from SGT under the UTL 2019, as the price range for imposing SGT starts at MMK200 per liter and above. Notably, the SGT rates for both liquor and wine have been increased under the UTL 2019.
A summary of the changes is as follows.

TYPE OF SPECIFIC GOOD

PRICE RANGES UNDER UTL
2018-2019

PRICE RANGES UNDER UTL 2019

SGT RATES UNDER UTL 2018-2019

SGT RATES UNDER UTL 2019

Cigarettes

  • MMK600 and below – MMK1,001 and above per pack of 20 cigarettes

MMK600 and below – MMK1,001 and above per pack of 20 cigarettes

MMK6 – MMK 21 per cigarette

MMK8 – MMK 25 per cigarette

Cheroot

 

 

  • 50 pya per cheroot
  • 75 pya per cheroot

Liquor

  • MMK1,000 per liter and below – MMK29,000 per liter
  • MMK29,001 and above
  • MMK200 to MMK1,000 per liter – MMK15,000 per liter
  • MMK15,001 and above
  • MMK122 per liter – MMK6,703 per liter
  • 60% per liter

 

  • MMK170 per liter – MMK4,100 per liter
  • 60% per liter

 

Wine

  • MMK750 per liter and below – MMK26,000 per liter
  • MMK26,001 and above
  • MMK750 per liter and below – MMK16,500 per liter
  • MMK16,501 and above
  • MMK81 per liter – MMK5,254 per liter
  • 50% per liter

 

  • MMK81 per liter – MMK3,250 per liter
  • 50% per liter

 

 Exportation of specific goods

Under the UTL 2019, there is only one type of specific goods (i.e., wood and wood cuttings) subject to SGT at 10% upon exportation. Petroleum products (i.e., kerosene, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and natural gas), gems, and jewelry are no longer subject to SGT upon exportation.  

Commercial Tax changes

We note that library services provided by the Union Government are now included under services that are exempted from Commercial Tax (“CT”). Apart from this, there are no major changes in terms of CT-exempted goods and services under the UTL 2019.

The minimum threshold exempted from CT (i.e., MMK50 million per year) has been clarified, with “per year” meaning “twelve months from the commencement of business including the month of commencement of business.” Previously, the minimum threshold was based on the income year. In other words, if the total revenue subject to CT does not exceed MMK50million per income year but exceeds MMK50 million within twelve months from the commence of business, including the month of commencement of business, such revenue will be subject to CT.

In addition, if a taxpayer has assessable revenue or wishes to offset input CT (i.e., CT paid on the purchase of goods and services) against their output CT (i.e., CT charged on the sale of goods and services), the taxpayer is required to be registered with the relevant Internal Revenue Department for CT purposes. We also note that input CT paid on the purchase of jewelry made with gold cannot be offset against output CT on the sale and exportation of such jewelry.

Income Tax changes

The major change under the UTL 2019 is the tax amnesty on an undisclosed source of income. Although income escaping assessment is still subject to Income Tax at the flat rate of 30%, when citizens buy capital assets and cannot prove the source of income for the funds used in the purchase of such capital assets, the portion of funds for which the source cannot be proven will be subject to Income Tax at reduced progressive tax rates ranging from 3% to 30% as per the table below. It should be noted that such funds used to be taxed at much higher progressive tax rates ranging from 15% to 30% for lower income layers.

No.

Income layers under UTL 2018-2019

Income layers under UTL 2019

Income Tax rate under
UTL 2018-2019

Income Tax rate under UTL 2019

1.

MMK1 – MMK30,000,000

MMK1 – MMK100,000,000

15%

3%

2.

MMK30,000,0001 – MMK100,000,000

MMK100,000,001 – MMK300,000,000

20%

5%

3.

MMK100,000,001 and above

MMK300,000,001 – MMK1,000,000,000

30%

10%

4.

MMK1,000,000,001 – MMK3,000,000,000

15%

5.

MMK3,000,000,001 and above

30%

The income escaping assessment means the income escaping income tax prior to 1 October 2019; the reduced Income Tax rates will be applicable only from 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020.

Introduction of Jewelry Tax

As discussed under the SGT section above, all gems and jewelry will now be subject to Jewelry Tax under the Myanmar Gemstone Law. Jewelry Tax will be based on the higher value among the sales price of the seller and the sales price determined by the Myanma Gems Enterprise based on the actual sales prices. For imported gems, Jewelry Tax will be based on the landed value. The new Jewelry Tax rates are provided below.

No. Type of gems Tax rate

1.

Raw gemstones of jade

11%

2.

Raw gemstones of ruby, sapphire, and other precious raw gemstones, except diamonds and emeralds

9 %

3.

Finished gemstones of jade, ruby, sapphire and other finished precious gemstones, either loose or in jewelry, except diamonds and emeralds

5%

4.

Goods made with gemstones

5%

Penalty under the UTL 2019

The UTL 2019 reiterates that goods that are required to be affixed with an SGT stamp (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol and wine) will be subject to penalties in the event of failing to affix the required stamps, according to the relevant provisions under SGT laws.

Since the CT Law does not state the penalty for CT stamps, the UTL 2019 states that the defaulter will be subject to the penalties listed below in addition to 100% of the additional payable tax as per voucher or payment receipt for failure to affix the CT stamp on the voucher or payment receipt and failure to issue voucher or payment receipts to customers.

  • First default will be subject to MMK500,000
  • Second default will be subject to MMK1 million
  • Third default will be subject to MMK1.5 million
  • Above third default will be subject to MMK 2 million

In addition, failure to affix CT stamps on goods (e.g., mobile handsets) that are required to be affixed with CT stamps will be subject to 100% of the value of the goods as penalty.

Conclusion

The UTL 2019 largely provides favorable tax rates and exemptions for taxpayers, particularly with regard to tax amnesty on undisclosed sources of income. Taxpayers should declare the undisclosed source of income within FY2019-2020 to enjoy the reduced tax rates, as there is a time limit on the tax amnesty.  

AUTHOR
CharlesNgwe Lin Myat Chit
Senior Tax Manager
Taxation Team
VDB Loi, Myanmar

Ngwe Lin has a master’s degree in finance from Umea University in Sweden and a bachelor degree in Commerce from the University of Newcastle Australia. She has extensive experience in energy, communications and foreign investment She is a Manager in our Tax team, advising mostly multinational clients in a wide range of industries.

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