Thailand’s Revenue Department is currently testing blockchain technology on an institutional scale to determine its ability to track value-added tax (VAT) payments, according to the Bangkok Post.
According to the report, the Revenue Department’s innovation lab is “putting Thailand on the path to becoming the first country to use the distributed ledger for tax probes.” The specific targeting of VAT payments did not appear to factor into larger plans to incorporate blockchain technology at higher levels of taxation, however, as VAT payment fraud in particular is apparently vulnerable to these sorts of blockchain-based audits.
The Revenue Department’s Director-General Ekniti Nitithanprapas clarified this strategy, saying that “the department wants to use blockchain technology to prevent VAT refund fraud,” and that “blockchain [technology] is expected to help verify VAT invoices, which would help root out fake invoices for VAT claims.”
But how, exactly, would these VAT payments become more accountable once recorded on a blockchain? Apparently, these taxes apply to transactions between two different businesses, in which the Revenue Department is a third party with little direct involvement. This gives ample opportunity for under-the-table deals. Under this new system, however, “when a company buys products from a second company, the former will issue VAT invoices to the latter and both firms can use [a] blockchain to confirm the transactions.”
Thailand has demonstrated openness to leveraging blockchains in its government functions recently, with its opposition party using a blockchain-based system to conduct a nationwide election that nominated a former prime minister as a candidate. Although this election did not lead to any offices changing seats, it does show a powerful commitment from one of the largest organized parties in the nation.
“The Revenue Department has set its sights on adopting machine learning and using artificial intelligence to learn and study tax-cheating practices to efficiently examine tax payments and compel more people to enter the formal tax system,” said Ekniti about his plans for blockchain adoption. The Bangkok Post added that he “aims to use innovation to boost efficiency and enlarge the taxpayer base.”