The Ministry of Finance has proposed to freeze and extend tax debt repayment terms for ailing businesses which would be able to commit to paying tax in the future.

The proposal was made against a backdrop of skyrocketing tax debts as enterprises have toiled in the face of an economic downturn.

The ministry's report showed that by the end of this year's second quarter, tax debt collection had faced significant obstacles.

Over 25,000 firms were discovered to have a total tax debt of 4.4 trillion VND (209.5 million USD). Meanwhile, only 32 percent of last year's tax debts were collected by December 2012.

In addition, the large number of companies trying to avoid paying tax debts was making collection extremely difficult, according to the report.

Vu Vinh Phu, former director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, said enterprises had been asked to report reasons for their tax slow repayment to authorities.

Phu said real estate firms accounted for a large portion of the tax debt list and authorities should carefully check whether the debts were due to frozen property market or simple negligence.

He added that businesses would have to explain reasons for slow tax payments or they would face bankruptcy to avoid becoming antecedent for others.

Sharing these thoughts, lawyer Bui Dinh Ung said State management agencies should carry out check-ups at businesses to impose penalties on tax cheats.

Another lawyer Tran Dinh Trien added that enterprises would be allowed to restructure production to facilitate their tax obligations.

Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung said the ministry had asked its Taxation Department to restructure tax debt for certain cases.

Head of the department Bui Van Nam said authorities had calculated and researched plans to clear unrecoverable tax debts and tax penalties due to late payment would be wiped clean.

Debts incurred after the beginning of July this year would incur a late payment charge of 0.05 percent per day for the outstanding tax from the payment deadline up to 90 days over. From day 91 onwards, a 0.07 percent rate would be applied each day thereafter, he revealed.-VNA