BANGKOK – Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Network (NACN) has asked the Finance Ministry to investigate if Toyota Motor Thailand has understated taxes by claiming the Toyota Prius is a completely-knocked-down (CKD) vehicle, Bangkok Post reports.
NACN secretary-general Mongkolkit Suksintharanon told the English-language daily that if the Prius is judged to be an imported (CBU) car, the Japanese carmaker will be liable for about 30 billion baht in tax for domestic sales, instead of 11 billion as recently demanded by the Customs Department.
NACN believes the car is almost fully assembled outside Thailand and so should be categorised as an import. Toyota has said all Thai-market Priuses are made in Chachoengsao, however, Suksintharanon claims Toyota Motor Thailand does not have a Prius assembly line.
The Customs Department had earlier asked Toyota to pay 11 billion baht in retroactive tax for importing Prius parts between 2010 and 2012 without its approval, according to Bangkok Post.
Under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement, carmakers that receive Customs approval before importing parts are subject to 30% tax for CKD vehicles. Toyota is allegedly subject to 80% tax for not seeking approval.
CBU cars are subject to 187.75% tax in Thailand, but according to Thai Rung Union Car Plc MD Sompong Phaoenchoke, due to loopholes in customs law, it is possible for a carmaker to fully import a car without customs duties.
Toyota Motor Thailand chairman Pramon Sutivong has denied the evasion of import duties on Prius parts, saying the case, which is currently being appealed at the Customs Department, involves differing legal interpretations of customs regulations.
Sutivong, who is also Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand chairman, told Bangkok Post that his company can prove it has a local assembly line for the Prius.
In late-2010, Toyota Motor Thailand held a ceremony to mark the start of Prius production at the Gateway plant in Chachoengsao. The plant produces passenger cars, including the Vios, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla and Yaris.