A common topic for discussion these days is the revised land and property tax. Everybody is feeling the pinch, it seems, from the discussion.

There had been no official complaints or appeals – perhaps many had not paid or were waiting to pay their tax – but the overarching concern remains the  substantial increase. Some are quick to blame the previous government for the decision, some are hoping the current government would intervene, some feel the government coffer would be richer while some say it is too taxing for the people.

We will hear more discussions and even appeals to the government or through the elected member of parliaments for a reassessment of the property tax. For now, many are calculating the difference in the amount they paid last year and they are paying. It is huge, from more than 300 percent to 1,500 percent depending on the nature of the property and the location.

The revision is expected to bolster government revenue significantly. Last year the finance ministry projected the country’s tax revenue to grow by 40 percent in the current fiscal year, primarily attributed to the revised building and land tax. This bold move by the elected government, despite potential voter backlash, underscores a crucial point: the necessity of taxation and its role in funding public services.

While nobody likes paying tax, what we need to understand and convince people is the benefit of paying taxes. It is a progressive tax, meaning the richer will pay higher taxes. Villagers are complaining of the increase –  from Nu 4 per decimal to Nu 10 (according to their estimate). While it is a huge increase, those with land and property are paying, particularly in the thromdes are thousand times over. The revision may be unpopular, but its benefits for the nation’s development cannot be overlooked. 

We begin to understand that higher taxes means higher revenue for the government. We also understand that it will, and should, result into improved services. The revenue from taxes will come back to the people in the form of improved roads, reliable drinking water, better health services and many more. 

Development partners have long scrutinised the efficacy of our taxation policies, advocating for reforms that benefit the masses. A reduction in the tax, on the contrary, would benefit some by millions, some by thousands and many by hundreds.

There are talks, even tipping off the media to write about how unpopular the revision is. We all agree the revision is heavy, but the benefits to the country cannot be forgotten. 

Some feel that the impact of building tax would be passed down to tenants. This is where we can intervene. As we file our income taxes, we will see that the revised tax paid would make a difference in the taxable amount.

A debate, if we really need to, is if the thromdes could keep the tax revenue to plough it back to improve services. After contributing land and paying taxes, the thromdes lacks budget to fulfil its obligations. Paying higher taxes should also encourage people to question their elected leaders, local or parliamentarians to work.