Residents of the village were made to pay urban taxes as their land fell under the extended town boundary

Tax: Works and human settlement secretary, Phuntsho Wangdi, returned the urban tax that was collected from the people of Weeling village in Trongsa on September 10.

The secretary handed over a check worth Nu 317,687 to Trongsa Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen in the presence of the people of Weeling and municipal officials.

Trongsa municipal officials collected the urban land tax in December 2015.

The tax has been refunded since it was not required as per a 2013 works and human settlement ministry circular. However, municipal officials had collected the tax overlooking some of the clauses in the circular.

The urban tax was refunded to the people after their rural taxes for the year were deducted.

Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen said the ministry’s 2013 circular had three clauses, of which the third clause stated that the landowner, whose land fell under the extended town boundary, need not pay urban land tax until they receive urban facilities. “Municipal officials had overlooked this clause,” he said.

The ministry had also sent another circular stating the same, however, officials received it only after they had collected the tax.

Dzongkhag engineer, Passang Dorji, said they overlooked the third clause and therefore the error occurred. “This was because municipal officials collected urban land tax from these people for the first time and the other reason was due to the long gap between the year the ministry had sent the circular and the year we collected the tax,” he said.

Secretary Phuntsho Wangdi said that collecting urban land tax from the people of Weeling was right in principle but not currently as they don’t enjoy any urban facilities. “We made a mistake and now we are refunding but without interest of course,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

Phuntsho Wangdi said this was a lesson and that the same should not happen in any other  dzongkhag. “People whose lands fall within the extended town area can continue paying rural land tax until they receive urban facilities,” he said.

Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen said the urban tax money that was collected from the people of Weeling had already been transferred to the government revenue and couldn’t be withdrawn. “We have made adjustments of the funds to pay the money back today,” he said.

Both the dzongdag and secretary told the public gathered that their tax money is not being returned because media highlighted the issue. They said that work was already underway for around two months to refund the money.

Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen said the money was ready by the time the media covered the issue.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa