Pisit pursues lost Thaksin tax

Revenue Dept called in to secure B12bn

Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas: Officials have the power to recover Thaksin's money. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas has called on the Revenue Department to launch more attempts to collect 12 billion baht in tax from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra over the sale of shares in Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings a decade ago.

The call came after the Finance Ministry's tax committee, chaired on Wednesday, by deputy permanent secretary for finance Prapas Kong-ied, indicated people who have incorrectly submitted their annual earnings for tax evaluation will not be required to resubmit them after a five-year time frame passes, and the time frame will not be extended.

The Office of Auditor-General (OAG) previously asked the department to extend the time frame to collect the tax from Thaksin.

The decision concerns the case that Thaksin's children, Mr Panthongtae and Ms Pinthongta, purchased 329 million Shin Corp shares at a price of one baht each from Ample Rich, an offshore holding company controlled by the Shinawatra family.

The pair later sold the Shin shares in their name to Temasek through the Stock Exchange of Thailand for 49.25 baht each, reaping a capital gain of 48.25 baht per share or nearly 16 billion baht. They were not taxed on the capital gains at that time.

However, their tax liability dispute emerged after tax authorities backtracked on their position and said the siblings had to pay taxes of 12 billion baht including interest and penalties.

The case went to the Central Tax Court which ruled in the siblings' favour.

According to the court, the real owner of the shares were not the siblings but Thaksin, referring to the ruling of the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions in 2010 on Thaksin's asset concealment case concerning the sale of 1.4 billion shares in Shin Corp, including those held by the siblings.

As a result, the siblings were not subject to the tax, the tax court said.

Based on the ruling, the OAG requested the Revenue Department collect the 12-billion-baht tax from Thaksin instead, saying the revenue law has room for the department to extend the five-year time frame.

The department then asked the the Finance Ministry's tax committee if it could extend the time frame and the committee said no.

Mr Pisit said the Supreme Court's ruling indicates clearly who really gained from the share sales.

He suggested the Revenue Department proceed with the tax collection by using Section 61 of the Revenue Code.

The section indicates the assessment officials have the power to assess and charge the whole amount of tax on income to people whose name appears in important documents showing they are the owners of the property, which generates an assessable income.

"Since the [Supreme Court] ruling was given, we have seen the court made a judgement that this money was not revenue for the children, but their father, who must be taxed," Mr Pisit said.

Mr Pisit disagreed with the Finance Ministry panel, which indicated the five-year time frame had passed, saying it should give weight to Section 61, which he said covers a 10-year statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations in this case will expire on March 31.

He said he wrote a notification letter on Wednesday about the issue to the Revenue Department.

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