VietNamNet Bridge – The online trade now in Vietnam has special characteristics, beginning with “no”: no tax, no clear origin of products and no certificate on product quality.


A buyer wanted to order a pair of sports shoes worth VND1.1 million on www.b4u..., a website of a well-known media company in Vietnam, but he could not find the information about the payment method on the website.

The website’s assistant worker then told him that the shop, located in Hanoi, would send the products through the post to the receiver in HCM City, while the shipping fee would be charged on the buyer.

When the buyer asked if he would get VAT invoice if he buys a large quantity of products, he was told that the shop does not issue VAT invoices.

The online shop on www.thegioimypham... Displays hundreds of branded cosmetic products sourced from an Asian country. The noteworthy thing is that the products have “very reasonable” selling prices. The saleswoman at the shop said that the products have been sold only via Internet and at the shop located on Truong Chinh Street in Dong Da district.

The saleswoman also said the shop will not issue VAT invoices.

Meanwhile, the saleswoman of an online shop introduced itself as the biggest perfume shop in Vietnam, said that the shop was run by a company in the past, but it is now managed by a household, therefore, it does not issue VAT invoices.

T, the manager of a cosmetics retail chain in HCM City, noted that the quality of the products sold through online shops is uncontrollable. No state management agency comes forward and supervises the shops’ operation. Shop owners have been selling counterfeit goods from China and Thailand, while introducing the products as branded goods.

The marketing director for a French cosmetic brand said an online cosmetic shop has the monthly turnover of billons of dong, which is equal to the turnover a big street front shop can make. The profit the online shop can make is much higher because it does not have to pay retail premises rents and doesn’t have to pay tax.

The director estimated that only 20 online cosmetics shops existing in 2010, while the number has soared to 700.

The HCM City Taxation Agency has admitted that it still cannot collect tax from the online shops. A team of the agency has been assigned to draw up the plan to collect tax from online traders. However, to date, no progress has been made.

According to Nguyen Thai Son, a tax expert, said in principle, taxation bodies define the tax sums business households have to pay after considering the invoices, vouchers, account books. Since online shops don’t have such documents, the taxation bodies don’t know about the performance of the online shops.

At present, the taxation agency still does not have a division in charge of supervising the tax collection from online trade. The taxation body has become embarrassed when a new type of business turns up.

Lawyer Tran Xoa, Director of the Minh Dang Quang law firm, believes that it is not a difficult task to put online trade activities under control. It is not true that the taxation body still has not found a proper solution to the problem, but that it is not interested in this.

Xoa thinks that local taxation bodies need to set up the teams in charge of supervising online trade and preventing from the tax evasion.