This content is from: Thailand

Thailand: Foreign e-service businesses liable for VAT

Paul Ashburn and Duangnetr Sarachai of HLB Thailand discuss the amendments to the Thai Revenue Code that introduces VAT on foreign e-services, effective from September 1 2021.

Foreign e-commerce businesses will be liable for 7% VAT on services provided to customers in Thailand, from September 1 2021. In addition to boosting VAT collections, the law aims to create a level playing field for domestic and foreign operators providing services online to Thai customers. 

E-service businesses expected to be affected include:

  • Online hotel reservations;
  • Subscription to online movies, music, and e-books;
  • Online gaming services;
  • Online advertising;
  • Sticker downloads;
  • Websites, applications, and online marketplaces; and
  • Online streaming.

Popular foreign online platforms expected to be affected include Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Line, YouTube, TikTok. 

The Thai government expects to generate annual revenue of THB 5 billion (approximately $160 million) from this measure.

Background

The amendments to the Revenue Code to impose VAT on foreign e-services are in the Revenue Code Amendment Act (No.53) B.E. 2564. 

The key principles remain the same as the draft law issued last year.

When the e-services tax is enforced from September 1 2021, the onus for paying VAT on e-services from abroad, which previously rested under the law with their customers in Thailand, will shift to the foreign e-service providers. 

The Thai Revenue Department has aimed to develop taxation practices in line with international standards set by the OECD, with more than 60 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea already adopting similar practices in accordance with the OECD's recommendations.

Key amendments 

The definition of the term ‘goods under section 77/1(9) of Revenue Code has been amended to exclude intangible assets delivered through the internet or any other electronic network, i.e. electronic services. 

Electronic services and electronic platforms are defined as follows:

‘Electronic services’ means services including intangible assets delivered via the internet or any other electronic network and the nature of which renders their service essentially automated and impossible to ensure in the absence of information technology. 

‘Electronic platforms’ means a market, channel, or any other process used by multiple service providers to provide electronic services to customers.

Foreign e-services providers will be required to register to pay VAT if they derive revenues over THB 1.8 million in a year from e-services provides to customers in Thailand that are no VAT registrants, e.g. individual consumers. 

Persons liable to remit VAT are divides into two categories:

  • Foreign e-service providers providing services from abroad to non-VAT registered customers that use such services in Thailand; and
  • Electronic platform owners, who are liable to VAT instead of the foreign suppliers operating on their platform, providing services electronically to non-VAT registered customers that use such services in Thailand. 

E-service providers who fall under the above criteria are required to register for VAT and remit VAT every month, similar to domestic businesses. However, such e-service providers are prohibited to issue tax invoices.

This will be a ‘pay-only’ system meaning that service providers will be liable to VAT on revenues but cannot offset VAT paid on expenditures. 

To facilitate taxpayers, the VAT processes such as registration, return filing, and payment can be performed electronically through the Revenue Department’s Simplified VAT System for e-Service (SVE) online platform. 

Revenue Department enforcement procedures

The Thai Revenue Department will enforce the new law through various measures, including:

  • Requesting information concerning financial transactions of e-service operators from taxpayers and/or financial institutions;
  • Social sanctions by providing the lists of VAT registered e-business operators on its website for the public to investigate and report non-compliance to the Revenue Department; and
  • Exchange of information for tax purposes with other countries using Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC) and the Automatic Exchange of Information portal (AEOI).

Supplementary regulations and information guides are expected to be issued by the Thai Revenue Department in the coming months to provide further details on the implementation of VAT on foreign e-services.

Paul Ashburn
Co-managing partner
Duangnetr Sarachai
Principal

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