A wrong has been righted with more than a hundred villagers of Weeling being refunded for erroneously being taxed.
Those villagers, whose land fell under the extended boundary of the town were made to pay urban land taxes this year. This occurred despite the government notifying all municipalities not to charge urban land taxes unless the land was receiving urban facilities.
With the urban land tax significantly higher than rural land tax, more than a hundred villagers ended up paying thousands of Ngultrums more this year.
Those affected had approached the dzongkhag and were informed that nothing could be done as the money had already been deposited with the government.
They were informed that the best that could be done was for the urban tax to be accounted for, when the government decided to finally impose urban land taxes on Weeling.
However, now we know that this wasn’t the case after all. The government was in fact already in the process of refunding the taxes. In fact, the process was going on for around two entire months prior. It was also pointed out that a “mistake” had occurred. The municipality had imposed urban land taxes despite two circulars clearly stating not to do so.
While we welcome that the government has rectified the mistake, we are hopeful that no further mistakes occur.
We must also question if such mistakes can be accommodated without accountability.
For one, if this was a case of miscommunication. We hope the government improves the way municipalities, or for that matter, any other agency, is informed about a government decision.
Secondly, the government was working on refunding the villagers for the past two months which means the villagers were kept in the dark, causing unnecessary angst and frustration, and causing them to approach the media. This should not happen. Communications with the people or keeping us in the loop, is essential.
Thirdly, while the tax has been refunded, no interest has been accounted for. We are a developing nation and this is understandable. Resources are scarce. However, it must be noted that the money taxed could have been in a bank account accumulating interest.
We cannot afford such costly mistakes.