Tue, 11 Mar 2003

Travel ban imposed on expatriates over unpaid taxes

Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Directorate General of Taxation announced on Monday that a travel ban had been imposed on eight expatriates who had allegedly failed to pay their taxes here.

Tax Collection Division head Djangkung Sudjawardi said that the foreigners had been barred from leaving the country since last year, and if they were still unwilling to settle their tax obligations by the end of March, the ban would be extended for another six months.

He told a press conference that during the subsequent six- month period there was a possibility that the expatriates would be imprisoned if they continued to be uncooperative.

The travel ban was imposed by the immigration office at the request of the finance ministry, of which the tax directorate is a part.

Djangkung declined to reveal the identities of the delinquent taxpayers, saying only that they came from Japan, the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea, and worked in footloose industries and the investment business.

The tax directorate had accused them of failing to pay their corporate and individual taxes.

The eight expatriates were among 13 delinquent taxpayers who last year owed tax arrears amounting to Rp 400 billion (US$45.4 million). The other five were local businessmen, on whom a travel ban has also been imposed.

Elsewhere, Djangkung said that a travel ban would also be slapped on another 60 delinquent taxpayers in April this year. He said that these non-compliant taxpayers owed the state at least Rp 1.5 trillion in tax arrears.

Some 15 of these taxpayers were expatriates, mostly from the U.S., Djangkung said, adding that they risked physical detention if they continued to be uncooperative.

The directorate said that over the past 10 years, the total amount of tax arrears had reached some Rp 17 trillion, of which around one fourth was owed by large taxpayers.

Of the total figure, around Rp 5.5 trillion was owed by foreign companies and individuals.

Djangkung admitted that in 2002 the directorate only managed to recoup some Rp 250 billion worth of tax arrears through the sale of confiscated assets.