Our Mongolian lawyers often work with foreign companies to establish and close down Mongolian companies and Representative Offices in Mongolia. Almost every time, when closing down one of these Mongolian companies our lawyers encounter compliance issues and tax irregularities which must be dealt with carefully. Sometimes these are intentional, other’s they are caused by local employees who just didn’t know any better.
Just this week we have encountered a similar situation in connection with the Representative Office of an international company. The below is almost exactly the email one of our Mongolian lawyers sent to this client, explaining the situation in Mongolia. Names and identifying information have of course been removed.
“Yesterday afternoon we were summoned to the tax office. The tax inspectors showed us their preliminary calculations of the amount of taxable income of the Rep Office, from which pursuant to law, taxes must be withheld. The tax inspectors specifically pointed out that the Rep. Office employees and accountant had been negligent and failed in their responsibility to duly collect and maintain financial documentation, including failing to maintain appropriate ledgers, and financial reports.
For example, one employee withdrew a large sum of money from the Rep. Office’s USD account and didn’t deposit the money into the MNT account. We can assume that she may have taken this to the office as cash on hand, however because no official ledger was kept, there is no record of the office receiving that cash and it is impossible to prove that the money was so deposited.
Because of this lack of documentation, the tax inspectors must consider the value of that transaction as the withdrawing employee’s personal income. Now, since from the perspective of the tax office those funds were paid to the employee as personal income, the Rep. Office should have withheld the standard 10% income tax, which of course did not happen. Therefore, we must now make up for the value of that 10% with a payment in taxes.
There are other examples where the Rep. Office gave donations or sponsorships to certain local events or business partners. Normally of course these payments are subject to tax. However, again, the Rep. Office did not withhold relevant taxes. There are quite a lot of such transactions, and unfortunately, most are relatively large sums.
Yesterday, we met with the tax inspectors and reviewed all financial documentation again, seeking to find documentation for those transactions the tax office as identified as suspicious. We were able to find corroborating documentation for some transactions, but not all. All of those remaining have been identified by the tax office, added up, and the value is are required to be paid to the tax office before we will be allowed to finally liquidate the Rep. Office. Because of the relatively large amount of unpaid taxes, the Rep. Office is also subject to a fine, which must also be paid prior to liquidation.
Once the inspection is finished completely, the tax office will specify the exact amount of taxable income in the official inspection decision.”
To avoid this, we recommend your Mongolia company implements a corporate compliance system, which includes oversight of accounting issues by a local accounting firm. Our firm regularly works with approved Mongolian accountants, and is able to make recommendations and provide accounting support.