Expats Can Also Deduct Year-End Shopping. Here’s How.

BANGKOK — Like to shop? Want to save the nation or, barring that, ease your tax burden? No Thai partner to handle the complicated stuff? No worries!

While many Thai shoppers have hit the holiday sales for tax-free shopping under the government’s “Shop to Save the Nation” program that ends Sunday, many foreign residents who also pay income tax don’t know they are also eligible – or how to make use of it.

Up to 15,000 baht can be deducted, so it’s not too late to get to the mall and do some serious nation-saving.

Read: Spend to Save Nation: Junta Preps Tax Break

Who is Eligible?

First, do you earn more than 150,000 baht annually? Will tax returns be filed in your name come March 2018? If not, forget about it – the nation will have to get by without your help.

Where to Shop?

To be eligible, purchases must be made at VAT-registered shops providing full tax receipts.

If you’re in a mall, convenience store or hotel, then you should be fine. Chain retailers, service centers and supermarkets should also be good. But mom-and-pop shops and street stalls are unlikely to be able to give the tax invoices. Find an example at the bottom of this article.

What is Deductible?

Most goods and services are eligible: clothes, accessories, cosmetics, medicine, food supplements, food, pet food and beverages. No booze, however. Electrical machines, furniture and IT gears (i.e. laptop and smartphone) works too.

For services, it’s good to know that spa, massage and karaoke qualify as valid ways to do some nation-building.

Vehicle maintenance is eligible as well, but motorists must get their cars fixed by Sunday.

Travelers who wish to get the deduction must fly domestically by Sunday – buying tickets in the timeframe does not count. Make sure the airlines are VAT-registered.

What’s Not Deductible?

Alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, fuel for vehicles, international flight tickets, utility bills, medical bills, gym memberships, fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, insurance, gift vouchers, hotel rentals, books, textbooks and magazines are not deductible.

At Time of Purchase

Since you’re a foreigner paid over 150,000 baht per year, you’ll need to show the cashier your tax ID number (it has 13 digits starting with 099). Don’t know what is it? Don’t have your HR representative or payroll department on speed dial? The Revenue Department says shoppers can just provide their full name and current address.

What’s Next?

Hang onto those invoices and present them at any revenue office when taxes are filed by the end of March. Many expats may have their tax responsibilities handled by staff, sometimes without their knowledge. Find out who handles this and make sure they receive your receipts in time. Always make copies, first.

Of course, all of this effort may only mean a few hundred more baht in your pocket. Deducting 15,000 baht from your taxable income means 750 baht for those earning 150,000 baht to 300,000 baht a year (the 5 percent tax bracket), 1,500 baht for those earning up to 500,000 baht and 5,250 baht for those fortunate to be in the 35 percent tax bracket with earnings of at least 5,000,000 baht per year.

An example of the full tax invoice finds this reporter definitely saving the nation with these slim-fit chinos.

Related stories:

Spend to Save Nation: Junta Preps Tax Break