Vietnam's General Department of Taxation is speeding up a project to modernise the country's tax administration so that it can be completed by 2015.

The Tax Administration Modernisation Project (TAMP) is expected to improve tax management capacity at all levels, reduce corruption and support taxpayers through improved e-tax services.

It was launched in 2008 with approved investment of 97.5 million USD including preferential loans of 80 million USD from the World Bank, a 12.5 million USD loan from Japan and Vietnam's counterpart capital of 5 million USD.

At a meeting on April 25 with representatives from tax offices in the northern region focused on changes that the tax sector is facing and preparations to deal with the changes. Vice director of the project management board Nguyen Minh Ngoc said that the move was expected to help the country realise its Tax Reform Strategy towards 2020.

Vietnam seeks to build a tax policy system that is comprehensive, consistent, fair, efficient and suitable to the socialist-oriented market economy. Simplified transparent tax management is based on three major pillars: simplified administrative procedures, qualified human resources and highly integrated automatic information technological applications.

Ngoc said that the strategy included ambitious goals, such as placing Vietnam fourth in the region in tax advantage by 2020, applying information technology in all tax offices and ensuring that 90 percent of enterprises used e-tax services.

The project would focus on improving risk management and enforcement analysis in the tax sector, anti-corruption activities, applying information technology in tax management and project management capacity building, Ngoc added.

"80 percent of the project investment will be spent to deal with IT development, which will primarily support the procurement and implementation of a proven Integrated Tax Administration Information System (ITAIS)," he said.

The ITAIS will support all tax management processes (including tax registration, data processing, tax payment, refunds and detecting violations) for all kind of taxes except personal income tax.

Yet Ngoc cautioned that introducing the innovation could be risky, bringing up issues such as incompatibility between systems and a shortage of staff qualified to use it.

Senior World Bank economist Pham Minh Duc said that the legal framework for taxation had been improved through reforms in 1990 and 1998, approvals for amended tax management law in 2012 and the amended Corporate Income Tax Law and Value-added Tax Law in 2013 as well as the Tax Reform Strategy from 2011 to 2020.

A 2011 World Bank survey on tax reform showed that the Vietnamese tax system ensured relative equality, as people with higher incomes or expenditure paid higher taxes, Duc said.

However, the cost for enforcement of tax regulations in Vietnam was also high, as measured by the number of times people paid taxes and number of hours spent on taxpaying procedures.-VNA