Shin Corp's 73 bn deal: What have we learn so far?
1. The magic of tax planning: As I've said before "know us, know them". This means you should study your business as well as study the tax laws and see how you can pay less (or no) tax without breaking the law. There are some classic examples in Shin Corp's tax planning.
1.1. Capital gain: Thai income tax laws state that most types of capital gains are taxable, except:
a) Capital gains from the sale of shares in a company listed on the Securities Exchange of Thailand provided that the sale is made on the Stock Exchange of Thailand and from the sale of investment units in a mutual fund.
b) Gains from the sale of non-interest bearing government bonds, debentures, bills, or debt instruments issued by a corporate entity or other juristic entities. This 73.3bn deal was not taxable because it was well planned out by a team of tax experts who used the tax loophole in item a).
As company-to-company transactions are subject to tax, it was necessary to have all five members of the Shinawatra and Damapong families sell their combined 49.6% stake to Temasek Holdings because individual transactions are not subject to tax. Therefore this 73.3bn deal was in full compliance with the law. Now don't be envious.
1.2 Cash basis: The Thai personal income tax collection is on a cash basis, which means you will pay tax upon getting paid. Before PM Thaksin took the premier's office, he had transferred his shares to his children and sister Yingluck at prices well below their market value.
At the time, that deal was exempted from capital gains tax, even though the transactions were made outside the stock market, since the shares had not been sold. But now when the shares have been sold to Temasek, it is quite understandable that the PM's children did not have to pay tax when they first took the transfer of the stocks, because as children of Thaksin and Pojamarn, they were entitled to the gift.
But in the case of Yingluck, she was in a position to look after herself then. If he does not pay tax, why do all the people exercising stock options have to pay tax?
2. Nominees: This deal required the establishment of a number of nominees to ensure that ShinCop's foreign ownership did not exceed the statutory limit of 49%. As Shin Corp has now shown this to be an acceptable way of doing business, we can expect other Thai companies to use the same nominee method to bypass the foreign ownership law.
However, I think the government have to seriously consider the comment of Bangkok Democrat MP, Korn Chatikavanij. "As the prime minister, if you think that the [alien business] law is appropriate, why do you have to be so evasive? If you think the law is unfair, why not propose legal amendments to legalize a higher foreign ownership limit?"
Using my right brain is now getting too difficult and my left is complaining and would like me to let them both work together on two recent pieces of bad news from the Revenue Department:
1. The Finance Ministry has announced stringent measures to collect 16.7 billion baht in income tax.
2. The Revenue Department is responding to the current public discontent with a 100-million-baht campaign to encourage tax payment.
I have no comment on the above news; I just tell my left brain and myself that I am not envious.