Tax-short Indonesia tells 23 banks to supply credit card charges

JAKARTA, March 30 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s Finance Ministry, which faces a sizable revenue shortfall this year, on Wednesday instructed 23 banks to share data on their customers’ credit card transactions with the tax office.

A decree put on the ministry’s website directed the banks to submit the data by May 31.

Among the 23 banks are Indonesia’s biggest lenders such as Bank Mandiri, Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Bank Central Asia as well as branches of foreign banks HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered.

Slumping exports plus weak consumption and company profits have crimped tax collection for years. Also, in a country of 250 million, there are only 27 million registered taxpayers when there should be 120 million, according to the tax office.

Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro has said the administration may miss its 2016 revenue target by 250 trillion rupiah ($18.81 billion), and the shortfall could make the government trim spending.

A plan for the tax amnesty programme could cover some of the shortfall, but political wrangling has delayed parliamentary approval at least until next month.

Earlier this month, Brodjonegoro said that if parliament rejects the amnesty bill, the government will rely on tax audits, especially of individuals, to see “whether their (tax) payments match their wealth”.


Achmad Baiquni, chief executive of state-controlled lender Bank Negara Indonesia, said the decree on credit-card transactions “could help crosscheck people’s spending, whether they fit their income reports”.

He said his bank has no problem with providing the transactions, if required, as they are not among the data banks can refuse to disclose.

Jahja Setiaatmadja, president-director of Bank Central Asia, warned that the data collection may scare customers from using credit cards issued by domestic banks.

“They may apply for credit cards to foreign banks outside of Indonesia, maybe to Singapore. All credit cards can be used anywhere anyway,” he said.

Taxpayers in Southeast Asia’s largest economy pay income tax based on their own self-assessments. The tax office often says lack of secondary data hinders its ability to check reports.

In Wednesday’s Finance Ministry decree, government agencies in charge of specific sectors, such as the food and drug regulatory authority and social security provider, are also required to share some data with the tax office.

The website of the Indonesia Credit Card Association says there are more than 14 million card holders in the country and 350,000 merchants accept cards.

$1 = 13,290 rupiah Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Richard Borsuk