Thailand's tax department will employ machine learning to study tax evasion methods and also use blockchain to track refunds and introduce a layer of transparency to the revenue process. Photo: iStock
If digital currencies are going to replace cash, blockchain must speed up. Photo: iStock

Thailand’s ruling junta has been imposing and lifting taxes since it seized power more than four years ago. It is now taking a further step to curb tax avoidance by using blockchain technology.

According to the Kingdom’s revenue department, distributed ledger technology will be used to verify whether taxes were paid correctly and to also speed up the tax refund process. The department will be employing machine learning to study tax evasion methods while enabling officials to track refunds and introduce a layer of transparency to the process.

The Bangkok Post reported that pursuing a digital tax collection system has become the priority of revenue department director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas. There was no further information on how blockchain would be implemented to chase tax dodgers, just the suggestion that these technologies would be put to use to increase revenue for the regime.

In terms of crypto-currency trading, Thailand now imposes a 15% capital gains tax on any profits, however it is largely left to individuals to report the gains.

The country’s largest crypto exchange, BX Thailand, affirms this on its terms and conditions page stating: “It is the customer’s responsibility to determine what, if any, taxes apply to the trades you complete via the website, and it is the customer’s responsibility to report and remit the correct tax to the appropriate tax authority. The company reserves the right to withhold any amount of tax from the customer; if directed to do so by the Thai Revenue Department.”

At the moment the revenue department has not instructed exchanges to collect tax at source and trading remains open and unfettered. The government mulled an additional tax of 7% on all crypto purchases and trades, regardless of whether they gained or lost, several months ago. Ministers rapidly made a U-turn on this though when they realized that it would cripple the crypto industry in Thailand. The VAT was subsequently waived and crypto exchanges continue to flourish.

Thai regulators have also been drawing up a framework for ICOs in an effort to encourage investment. Only those approved by the Thai SEC will be permitted to operate in the Kingdom and at the moment that numbers just a handful and before a token sale, any ICO must apply for a license.

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says ICO acceptance criteria includes “due diligence and screening of funders from dishonest people,” adding that the “source code of the smart contract will automatically be enforced against the contract.” After any sale, the SEC says it will publish a copy of the sales statement on its website.