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Myanmar’s tax evading actors are hurting the film industry

Myitmakha News Agency

Yangon, August 24 – famous Myanmar motion picture director, Wine, has stated that government financial support for the country’s film industry is lacking as previous erstwhile administrations failed to tax those in the industry.

“In order to entreat the government to financial support the film industry, how much should we pay them? Only after making our own contributions will the government be able to assist us in return. This could all be solved in a week if pre-cash computer systems where installed in every cinema around the country, but they don’t. Those in the film industry want to avoid paying tax,” he said.

The utilization of pre-cash computer systems in cinemas allow one to know the figures of movie-going audiences and how many tickets have been purchased, in order to calculate the income received, but only very few cinemas have reportedly installed such technology.

However, one of Myanmar’s most prominent actors, Nay Toe, disagrees. “I’ve been paying my taxes ever since I started acting [in movies],” he claims. “I pay a percentage of my annual income. Our taxes records are kept in the office of the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization. We always pay our taxes. We use a third of our income to purchase needed props and clothing with which to shoot our motion pictures. The remaining two-thirds is paid in tax.”

But failings appear to come from both sides. U Min Lwin Soe, director of the Internal Revenue Department, told Myitmakha News Agency that just as those involved in the Myanmar motion picture industry fail to pay their taxes, the department itself fails to take any legal action against tax evaders.

“I’ll give you an example of how our department fails to press hard in procuring taxes from actors from my own experience,” he began to explain. “The actor in question was require to pay K800,000 in tax. He implores me to not be so hasty with them, asking for a night’s extension on his tax deadline. So, I wait. The next day I get a phone call from the regional office telling me to revise the tax levy and by how much.”

Ma Sabei, a resident from Yangon’s Dagon Myothit (South) Township, told Myitmakha News Agency that she believes the correct and honest paying of taxes by actors will have benefits not just for the film industry, but also audiences as well.

The tax evasion of actors during previous government administrations and the need to development the motion picture industry through the payment of taxes during the current government was reportedly discussed during a Myanmar Motion Picture Development Forum held between August 19-20.

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