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ONLY a third of the estimated 7,000 companies registered under the Companies Act are actively filing their tax returns, a senior revenue official said yesterday.

“Sometimes businesses aren’t aware of their obligations, because in Brunei there are a lot of Alibaba companies, so when they register a company, it isn’t them, but agents or their partners who do it on their behalf,” Maswadi Haji Mohsin, acting director of the revenue division under the Ministry of Finance, told The Brunei Times.

In an interview held at the sidelines of Compliance: The Key For Growth roadshow and mini job fair, Maswadi said the Ministry is taking stricter action on enforcement, and in recent months, the revenue division has taken companies to court for non-filing and not filing their returns.

Asked about the worst case scenario for businesses which fail to file in their returns, Maswadi said that the Registrar of Companies will be able to strike the company off the register.

“People have this (fear) when they talk about tax, because they think that everyone has to pay taxes, which is not the case. We have a lot of exemptions, and they can carry forward their losses, or claim capital allowance, or tax credits,” Maswadi said, adding that these are some things that businesses can learn from the roadshow.

Maswadi is one of the speakers in the two-day roadshow. In his opening remarks, he said companies need to submit annual returns to the Registrar of Companies .

He said private sector should grab every opportunity to grow their business, or provide more services, products and so on to expand within Brunei or beyond it.

“This is when compliance becomes very important, and banks will require transparency in the finance performance of the company before approving any financing,” he said.

Maswadi said that companies also need to submit audited financial statements through the System for Tax Administration and Revenue Services (STARS ) and pay taxes before, and/or on June 30th of each year. The revenue division created the STARS system to make the processing of tax submissions, assessments, strategic audits and taxpayers services more efficient.

Maswadi said that keeping a proper book of accounts is very important not only to comply to existing laws but also help them analyse their business strategy, manage cost and focus on growth amid a competitive environment.

The roadshow’s aim is to show the right process of registering companies and business names, remind companies of their obligations as listed in the Companies Act and Income Tax Act and to highlight how companies can benefit from tax incentives under the current tax system.

Maswadi said the roadshow is just one of the means for companies to discuss their concerns with the Revenue Division or the Registrar of Companies. He said that business executives are also welcome to visit the Ministry to speak with revenue officials.

The Brunei Times