Cambodia’s new tax on online services could hurt consumers and businesses

With Cambodia introducing a new online commerce tax on sales of digital products and services made by international tech firms, experts warn that consumers and small online businesses might be the ones who bear the brunt.

Cambodia will require tech companies without a physical presence in the country to pay a 10% value-added tax (VAT) on their sales of digital goods and services, making it the latest country in Southeast Asia to levy charges on recognizable firms like Google, Facebook, Netflix, and AliExpress.

The new regulation, which has been approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen, specifies that foreign firms that facilitate their services over the internet and have an annual turnover exceeding $61,500 (KHR 250 million), or which generate a turnover of more than $14,700 (KHR 60 million) for three consecutive months per calendar year, are subject to the 10% VAT and must declare this status with Cambodia’s tax authorities.

“Cambodia’s new law appears to be quite sweeping, which means that all kinds of companies are likely to be at risk. While authorities might prefer to tackle tax collection from larger, mostly foreign firms, it can be much easier for regulators to find and address issues at the domestic level,” said Deborah Elms, executive director of Singapore-based Asian Trade Center. “This means that the implications will likely be felt most keenly by smaller firms in Cambodia and by Cambodian consumers.”

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