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Resistance to On-Line Taxation for Hotels & Restaurants

Hotel and Restaurants Tax Remain Under collected by 135% as Regency Officials Collude & Resist Efforts to Introduce On-Line Tax Payment Systems

(8/26/2012) Bali annually collects around Rp. 2 trillion (US$215 million) in the taxes from Hotels and Restaurants (PHR) Island-wide.

Broken down further, the estimated tax revenues from hotels and restaurants:

Meanwhile, it has been estimated, based on figures from the Central Statistical Bureau (BPS), that Bali may be under-collecting its hotel and tax revenues by as much 135%, with a more correct total tax bill collectable from sales at hotels and restaurants put at Rp. 4.7 trillion (US$505.4 million).

This total is extrapolated based on an estimated 2.34 million foreign tourists and 4.16 million domestic tourists believed to be spending 50% of all holiday expenditures in Bali on taxable accommodation, and food and beverage.

This under-collection in tax revenue, if correct, offers a ready solution to the island’s desire to fund education, social welfare and medical care for the island's people.

The provincial government has long tried to introduce a on-line taxation systems that would increase the tax revenues collected from the island’s huge tourism industry and eliminate the notorious and well-known level of “negotiation” that takes place when regional officials calculate and collect taxes from Bali’s hotels and restaurants.

The goal of collecting Hotel and Restaurant taxes on-line is included as part of a 2009 laws on public service, but municipalities and regencies in Bali have been stubborn in insisting automated and on-line calculation systems are inappropriate; insisting the present system be maintained.

Critics, meanwhile, suggest regency officials are protecting an area of "administrative descretion" that allows impunity in determining taxes due from hotels and restaurants, and a resulting much-coveted opportunity for personal enrichment held by those in charge of the tax system.

A Lack of Political Will?

Providing insights into the problem is a former candidate for regent in Buleleng, North Bali. Nyoman Patra explained to NusaBali that the governor’s desire to introduce on-line payment for vehicle and driving license registration was initially opposed by the traffic police who eventually relented, eventually permitting  Samsat Online to come into effect. Similarly, Patra said: “The current leakage of Hotel and Restaurant tax and the problems to resolving this problem are many. The officials who collect the tax are part of the problem. Because of this, it now all depends on whether we have the will or not to do something?"