Vietnam Taxation Primer: Corporate Income Tax

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Tax administration is controlled by the General Department of Taxation, which operates under the Ministry of Finance. Tax affairs may also be handled by local provincial Tax Departments.

Foreign investors are likely to be subject to the following common taxes:

  • Corporate Income Tax
  • Value Added Tax
  • Personal Income Tax
  • Foreign Contractor tax
  • Others (e.g. Special Sales Tax, Environmental Tax, Import and Export Duties, Natural Resources Tax, Environmental Tax, Property Tax, etc.).

Corporate Income Tax (“CIT”)

Scope

Organizations conducting business and earning taxable income in Vietnam, which do not benefit from tax exemptions,  are subject to CIT, comprising:

  • Enterprises established pursuant to the law of Vietnam
  • Foreign enterprises earning income in Vietnam with or without a resident establishment in Vietnam
  • Enterprises established pursuant to the Law on Co-Operatives
  • Professional entities established pursuant to the law of Vietnam
  • Any other organization conducting activities of production or business that earns income.

A company is a tax resident if it is incorporated in Vietnam or has a permanent establishment (“PE”) in Vietnam. In these cases, the foreign enterprise must pay tax on its worldwide income. If the company is not either a tax resident or does not possess a PE, it is only required to pay tax on income arising in Vietnam.

CIT rate

Currently, the CIT standard rate is 20%.  For corporations with total revenues of less than VND20 billion, a17% CIT rate shall be applied.

Certain industries are liable to a higher tax rate:

  • Companies operating in the oil and gas industry are subject to rates ranging from 32% to 50%, depending on the location and specific project.
  • Any companies engaging in prospecting, exploration and exploitation of mineral resources are subject to CIT rates of 40% or 50% depending upon location.

CIT may be reduced under investment incentive schemes.

Deductible vs. non-deductible expenses

Deductible expenses

Expenses are CIT deductible if they meet the following requirements:

  • Relevant to business activities;
  • Having sufficient legitimate invoices and vouchers;
  • Settlement via forms of non-cash payment for transaction more than VND20 million;
  • Paying via the registered bank account; and
  • Not specifically identified as being non-deductible.

Non-deductible expenses include:

  • Depreciation of fixed assets which is not in accordance with the prevailing regulations;
  • Employee remuneration expenses which are not actually paid, or are not stated in a labour contract or collective labour agreement;
  • Staff welfare (including certain benefits provided to family members of staff) exceeding a cap of one month’s average salary;
  • Reserves for research and development not in accordance with the prevailing regulations;
  • Provisions for severance allowance and payments of severance allowance in excess of the prescribed amount per the Labour Code;
  • Overhead expenses allocated to a PE in Vietnam by the foreign company’s head office exceeding the amount under a prescribed revenue-based allocation formula;
  • Interest on loans corresponding to the portion of charter capital not yet contributed;
  • Interest on loans from non-economic and non-credit organizations exceeding 1.5 times the interest rate set by the State Bank of Vietnam;
  • Provisions for stock devaluation, bad debts, financial investment losses, product warranties or construction work which are not in accordance with the prevailing regulations;
  • Unrealised foreign exchange losses due to the year-end revaluation of foreign currency items other than accounts payable;
  • Donations except certain donations for education, health care, natural disaster or building charitable homes for the poor;
  • Administrative penalties, fines, late payment interest;
  • Contributions to voluntary pension funds and the purchase of voluntary pension for employees exceeding VND 1 million per month per person;
  • Certain expenses directly related to the issuance, purchase or sale of shares;
  • Creditable input value added tax, corporate income tax and personal income tax.

Currently, the previous cap on the tax deductibility of advertising and promotion expenses has been abolished.

For certain businesses such as insurance companies, securities trading and lotteries the Ministry of Finance provides specific guidance on deductible expenses for CIT purposes.

Taxable Income

Taxable income is defined as the difference between total revenue and deductible expenditures, plus other assessable income.

Business Units are required to prepare an annual CIT return which includes a section for making adjustments to accounting profit to arrive at taxable profit.

Losses

Businesses that incur losses after tax finalization are entitled to carry forward those losses to be offset against the assessable income of future years for maximum of five consecutive years before they expire.

Losses of incentivised activities can be offset against profits from non-incentivised activities, and vice versa.

Losses from the transfer of real estate and the transfer of investment projects can be offset against profits from other business activities.

The carry-back of losses is not permitted.

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