Bumthang Dzongkhag Tshogdue deliberates on long-overdue land tax

Bumthang Dzongkhag Tshogdue deliberates on long-overdue land tax

For over four years people had not paid land tax saying that there are no urban facilities

For over four years, most people of Chamkhar, Dekeling and Jalikhar in Bumthang Dzongkhag (district) had refused to pay land tax, arguing that they are being imposed the urban tax rate, while they had no urban facilities. However, during the Dzongkhag Tshogdue (DT) held recently to solve the issue, it has been decided that people who haven’t paid the land tax from 2018 to 2022 will now have to pay the rural land tax till 31st March, 2023. After that, people will abide by the new revised tax.

Bumthang Dzongkhag’s Throm Thueme said that it has almost been four years since the land pooling. “The people shared that their main reason for not paying the taxes is that they have not received any urban facility for over four years. It is the main reason behind this,” he said. The Thueme also stated that they received no clear directives from the government. He shared that the three laps, Chamkhar, Dekiling and Jalikhar, is just a Throm in name, but in reality without any urban facility. “With the land pooling, about 28% of the land was taken but however the people haven’t received the urban facilities.”   

He shared that in Chamkhar lap; the land compensation rate was about Nu 141,000 per decimal and for Dekiling and Jalikhar lap it was about Nu 108,000 per decimal.   

He also underlined that over the years they didn’t receive any official letter about when people will have to pay the land tax and moreover many were confused with no proper guidance. “So, people did not pay the taxes.”

“Those who paid the land tax are ones who bought land, with most having 13 to 15 decimals. However, most people did not pay as they didn’t get any concrete directions from the government,” said the  Thueme, reiterating that the issue was never solved since there wasn’t a proper direction for them.

Meanwhile, to solve the situation, during the Dzongkhag Tshogdu, it has been decided that taxes will be collected based on former rural tax, until March 31, 2023. Beyond that, people will need to pay taxes based on urban rates.    

An official told the paper that during the DT, they came to the conclusion to solve the pending issue, which will benefit both the people and the government. “From 2018 till 2022, they haven’t paid the land tax nor did the government come to a final decision. However, during the DT we have discussed that from the end of March they will have to pay the old rural tax, and after that onwards they will impose a different tax, that is, the new revised Tax.”  

The paper also learned that the people are not only reluctant to pay the tax but also unwilling to shift to the new town area, citing the same reason that there are no urban facilities.  However the official said that almost 70% to 80% of the infrastructure is completed. The current Chamkhar town land is on lease, which ends in August, 2023.

The official said that though there are basic facilities like road, water, electricity and people are also concerned whether there will be tenants in their house after shifting to the new area and that some say that they still have time till August this year.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu