Tax dispute resolution in Vietnam
A taxpayer has the right to appeal against an administrative decision by the tax authority. An administrative decision is defined to include any tax assessment or decision on tax exemption/ reduction, tax refund, tax penalty, enforcement; conclusion of a tax audit, examination or inspection; or decision on a tax appeal etc.
However, the tax authority may refuse to process an appeal in the following cases (amongst others):
- The appeal is not made by the legal representative of the taxpayer;
- The letter of appeal is not signed by the appellant;
- The appeal is subsequent to the second appeal which has been reviewed and decided;
- There is a written notice to suspend the appeal process and the appellant discontinues the appeal after 30 days following the suspension;
- The matter of appeal has been decided by a court.
An appeal must first begin at the level of tax authority which made the decision against the taxpayer. If the taxpayer is not satisfied with the tax authority’s decision in the first appeal, further appeal may be made to next level of authority in the tax administration hierarchy until it reaches the MoF (whose decision is often final) . In rare cases, further appeal may be reviewed by the Government Office (i.e. the Prime Minister’s Office).
First administrative appeal
The timing for filing the first appeal is 90 days following the date of an administrative decision by the tax authority. The tax office receiving the first appeal is required to acknowledge the taxpayer within 10 days following receipt of the appeal and make a decision within a period of 30 days following the date on which the appeal was acknowledged. This period may be extended up to 45 days in complex cases (or 60 days in complex cases and in remote areas).
Second administrative appeal
If the taxpayer is not satisfied with the tax authority’s decision or no decision is made by the tax authority by the end of period of first appeal, it may lodge a second appeal to the higher tax authority within 30 days (or 45 days in remote areas) following the first appeal.
The tax office receiving the second appeal is required to acknowledge the taxpayer within 10 days following receipt of the appeal and make a decision within a period of 45 days following the date on which the appeal was acknowledged. This period may be extended up to 60 days in complex cases (or 70 days in complex cases and in remote areas).
Effective date of an administrative appeal decision
A decision on the first administrative appeal enters into effect after 30 days (or 45 days in remote areas) following the date of its issuance where the appellant does not proceed to second appeal. Similarly, a decision on the second administrative appeal enters into effect after 30 days (or 45 days in remote areas) following the date of its issuance.
Subsequent administrative appeals
Although the legislation does not specifically prescribe a procedure for administrative appeal subsequent to the second administrative appeal, further administrative appeals after the second appeal are possible but rare in practice.
If a taxpayer is not satisfied with an appeal decision by the tax authority, or no decision is made by the end of the relevant appeal period, it may litigate the dispute at an administrative court at the end of the first or second appeal period. Currently, court cases in Vietnam rare and most of tax disputes are resolved through the administrative appeals, rather than litigation.
Obligation to pay tax during appeal or litigation
Generally, during appeal or litigation, taxpayers are obliged to pay the full amount of tax in dispute to the tax office, unless a deferral of tax payment is granted by a competent authority.
If a taxpayer wins in an appeal, the tax authority is required to refund the taxes and penalties paid by the taxpayer and the concerned third parties (if any) and pay interest thereon, within 15 days following the date of the appeal decision or a decision by the relevant competent authority (such as a court order). The interest is based on the prevailing interest rate announced by the State Bank of Vietnam. If the tax payer looses in an appeal and the tax liability specified in the appeal decision is higher than the tax liability specified in the tax assessment, then the taxpayer will be required to settle the difference within 10 days following the date of receipt of the appeal decision.
Alternative dispute resolution
Currently, there is no avenue or mechanism for alternative dispute resolution.
However, the tax administration regulation provides that where a tax decision is being disputed by taxpayer and the responsible tax office has reviewed its decision and found such decision incorrect, it must take prompt remedies to avoid appeal or litigation.
 Art 72.1, Cir 156.
 Art 6, GDT’s Decision 1720/QD-TCT dated 8 October 2014 – (“Decision 1720”).
 Art 72, Cir 156.
 Art 3.1(a), GDT’s Decision 1720.
 Arts 4.1 & 4.2, GDT’s Decision 1720.
 Art 3.1(b), GDT’s Decision 1720.
 Art 4.2(b), GDT’s Decision 1720.
 Art 12.1(a) & (b), GDT’s Decision 1720.
 Art 7.1, Law No.2/2011/QH13 on Appeal.
 Art 74.1&2, Cir 156.
 Art 71.3, Cir 156.