Thieves take $9b VAT invoices

AS much as 10 billion yuan (HK$9.3 billion) worth of value-added tax invoices were stolen from a tax collection bureau in Zhuhai, according to a report in a Macau newspaper yesterday.

The Macau Daily reported the invoices - in the form of 77 booklets - were stolen from the Qianshan No 2 Tax Collection Office under the State Taxation Administration on June 18.

A special investigation team was set up, but the daily said the thieves were still at large.

An official at the Tax Collection Office yesterday declined to confirm the amount of invoices stolen, but admitted a theft had occurred.

'The invoices have been declared void. There is a public announcement in the Special Economic Zone Daily, ' the official said.

The Macau Daily quoted an unnamed tax official as saying the theft was the biggest of its kind since China implemented the new tax law system at the end of last year.

Zhuhai City Government officials were not available for comment yesterday.

Peter Kung, senior manager of Price Waterhouse in Hong Kong, said foreign business should be more aware of VAT invoices, and suggested they double-check the validity of invoices with the authorities to avoid losses.

China introduced the 17 per cent VAT last year in a bid to overhaul the country's tax system. However, the reform has been plagued by widespread forgery of invoices.

A report in the Economic Daily in March said there were about 940 cases of forgery of VAT invoices last year, with 56 of these cases involving amounts of more than 100 million yuan.