Thailand: Revenue chief calls for tax measure rejig

Some long-standing tax deduction and tax benefit measures should be reviewed, says Revenue Department director-general Lavaron Sangsnit.

He did not specify which measures, but hinted some that are older or deemed too generous need a rethink.

Mr Lavaron said the department’s revenue collection in fiscal 2022 is expected to exceed the target by 260 billion baht.

Fiscal 2022 ended on Sept 30.

The department’s revenue collection accounts for about 70% of the government’s net revenue every year.

He said the tax structure needs to be reformed and tax collection capacity should be improved because the government’s revenue has failed to cover its expenses the past several years.

The Finance Ministry set up a tax reform committee chaired by the minister, aiming to adjust the tax system in line with international standards. The Asian Development Bank has provided advice to the committee.

According to a Fiscal Policy Office study, net government revenue as a proportion of GDP is expected to fall to 13.3% in fiscal 2026 from 14.6% in fiscal 2021.

According to the Budget Bureau, Thailand has run a budget deficit since 1999.

The 2023 fiscal budget set the deficit at 695 billion baht, accounting for 22% of state expenditure.

During the pandemic years of 2020 to 2022, government borrowing to cover the budget deficit almost hit the legal ceiling.

In 2020, borrowing tallied 683 billion baht, accounting for 21.3% of the government’s expenditure in that year.

Such borrowing was around 600 billion baht in fiscal 2021, representing 18.8% of the expenditure, and 700 billion in fiscal 2022, accounting for 22.6% of the expenditure.

According to public debt management law, borrowing to offset the budget deficit in any year cannot exceed 20% of the annual expenditure, nor can it exceed 80% of the annual budget allocated for paying the debt principal.