The government has agreed to delay plans to force lawyers across the country to pay tax after a row broke out over the issue and an official compared legal professionals to badly behaved cows.
The announcement of the delay was made following a meeting between Kong Vibol, director-general of the Taxation Department and Soun Visal, president of the Bar Association.
Bar Association spokesman Yim Sary said all law firms will be allowed to delay registering with provincial taxation department branches after a request for leniency from the association.
“We asked the Taxation Department to delay registering and Mr Vibol agreed with the request,” he said.
He added that lawyers will not have to pay tax until the formation of a joint committee with officials from the Finance Ministry, Justice Ministry and Bar Association.
The joint committee will come up with legal procedures to set out tax obligations for lawyers, to be approved by Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth.
Lawyers earlier this week hit out at the deputy director-general of the Taxation Department Vann Puthipol for comparing them to cows in a post on Facebook.
He said his superiors had assigned him to herd a group of cows back into their stable, but some had refused to comply.
The post went viral and lawyers across the country claimed it was an insult to their dignity.
After the backlash, Mr Puthipol wrote on Facebook to say the post was a misunderstanding.
However a group of lawyers filed a complaint with Phnom Penh Municipal Court over the insults.
Mr Sary said Mr Vibol told the Bar Association that Mr Puthipol’s post on Facebook represented the views of an individual and not the department.
“He also appealed to the Bar Association to be tolerant and solve the problem peacefully,” Mr Sary said.
An official from the tax department who declined to be named said most local lawyers do not pay their taxes, since the majority of payments received from the sector come from lawyers of foreign nationalities.