Vietnam: Vietnam Ranked Most Complex Country In Asia Pacific For Accounting And Tax Compliance

Last Updated: 5 July 2017
Article by Samily Kwok

Only Turkey, Brazil, Italy and Greece are more complex for businesses than Vietnam, while China and India also make the global top 10 in the inaugural Financial Complexity Index.

Vietnam is the most complex country in Asia Pacific for Accounting and Tax compliance – just beating its giant and complex neighbour, China - according to TMF Group's inaugural Financial Complexity Index 2017.

The leading provider of global business and compliance services ranked 94 jurisdictions across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas, with 1 being most complex and 94 the least complex. Hong Kong came in at 91 as the easiest place in APAC for compliance from an accounting and tax perspective; only the Cayman Islands, BVI and UAE were ranked less complex for business across the world.

In determining the rankings with its in-house accounting and tax experts, TMF Group used four weighted complexity parameters, considering the accounting and tax rules and regulations in different jurisdictions, and risks associated with non-compliance.

TMF Group also surveyed its in-house experts to get a local view on emerging compliance trends, and how they are viewed in Asia. These results show the traditional worries of regulatory and tax compliance are still top of mind for accounting professionals around APAC, though current trends such as BEPS and transfer pricing are starting to creep into the collective consciousness.

TOP 5 MOST COMPLEX JURISDICTIONS IN ASIA PACIFIC FOR ACCOUNTING AND TAX COMPLIANCE

JURISDICTION GLOBAL RANKING
Vietnam 5
China 7
India 10
Pakistan 19
Philippines 25

MOST IMPORTANT COMPLIANCE TRENDS FOR APAC PROFESSIONALS

  1. Risk of non-compliance with local regulation: 24%
  2. Tax compliance (possibly of tax audits): 20%
  3. Accounting complexity: 16%
  4. Future impact of technology: 14%
  5. BEPS and transfer pricing: 12%

Results summary

  • Asia Pacific has three jurisdictions in the top 10: Vietnam (5), China (7) and India (10). Complexity around invoicing, filing and the conducting of audits is high with very specific documentation and processes applied.
  • The burden of reporting creates headaches in Vietnam. Regular filings are required alongside various monthly, quarterly and semi-annual statistics reports, foreign contractor tax and VAT returns, and numerous yearly statutory reports.
  • Tax is a real issue for businesses operating in Vietnam. The VAT system is very confusing and requires expertise to understand its exemptions, refunds, various VAT rates and proper filing of VAT. Businesses must correctly determine which VAT calculation method best suits the business, and ensure tax processes are followed correctly.
  • Elsewhere in APAC, India places 10th globally thanks to a tax system that's complex and multi-layered. Business leaders have a close eye on the 1 July introduction of a Goods and Services Tax (GST), established as a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India as a way to replace taxes levied by both central and state governments.

Commenting on the rankings, TMF Group's Head of Asia Pacific Paolo Tavolato said:

"Vietnam is one of the most dynamic economies in ASEAN, growing quickly and looking to claim a place as the world's manufacturing hub – but many foreign nationals find its regulations on business unnecessary and overly burdensome.

"A multitude of business-related licenses must be obtained before one can compliantly conduct business in Vietnam, and this is proving a barrier to many foreign companies moving their Asian manufacturing bases to the country – usually from China.

"The government is making moves to improve this, adopting the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and working to improve and streamline the tax system. It's also looking to gain investor confidence by bringing the Vietnam Accounting Standard and System (VAS) to be in line with the IFRS.

"We remain confident that these moves to increased transparency and easier reporting will see someone else take the top ranking next year, but remain on hand to make the move to Vietnam easier for those who don't want to wait."

To download the full report please visit: tmf-group.com/FCI2017

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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