Companies in Kaesong Industrial Complex receive unannounced tax notices

Institute for Far Eastern Studies

Recently, eight companies in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) informed that they received tax collection notices, a unilateral decision made by the North Koreans.

The Ministry of Unification and KIC reported that out of the 123 companies, 8 companies were informed by the North Korean authorities to pay about 160,000 USD in total in taxes.

Two companies out of the eight notified companies already paid close to 20,000 USD to the North Korean tax authorities.

On top of taxation, 21 companies were notified to submit additional tax documents. This may be to collect additional information for future tax collection purposes.

The tax authorities are also requiring companies to submit documents related to show proof of purchase of raw materials, and submit cost analysis documents and a copy of bank statements showing the history transactions.

Last August, the Central Special Direct General Bureau (CSDGB) notified the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee of new tax bylaws, which enforces a fine up to 200 times the amount of accounting manipulation and abolish the retroactive taxation system while increasing the number of documents for submission. Furthermore, the North is threatening to restrict access to the KIC, if companies fail to pay owed taxes or do not submit requested documents.

In addition to imposing fines for tax frauds, new tax bylaws demanded by the CSDGB included enforcement of additional taxes in the name of corporate income tax, sales tax, and other taxes.

The unilateral decision by the CSDGB to amend bylaws is a violation of Kaesong Industrial District Law, which requires any revision of the laws must be negotiated between the North and the South. Another problematic issue is that tax imposed on the companies is based on North Korea’s own estimation rather than tax reports submitted by the companies of the KIC.

For the first time last year, tenant companies in the KIC recorded an average operating profit of 56 million KRW, finally operating in the black after years in deficit.


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