DRC considering keeping property tax filing open till May end

With the property tax filing season drawing to a close today, there are still approximately 40,000 property owners who have yet to file their property taxes. This is according to the Department of Revenue and Customs. The department is now considering keeping the tax filing open for another month. If approved, this will also apply to personal income taxpayers who earn rental income.

The Department of Revenue and Customs started collecting property taxes in January this year. However, due to the system being implemented for the first time, tax collection experienced delays. In response, the government extended the deadline by one month in March.

As today is the last day to file taxes after the extension, revenue and customs offices and gewog centres were swamped by people. Most of the people BBS talked to complained about system failures leading to the delays.

“We come to file our taxes every day but it’s the system that has failed. Instead of improving, the system is not working each day. It’s not fair on the people if they are penalised,” said Sherub Tenzin, Daliphangma Tshogpa, Yangnyer Gewog, Trashigang.

“We came here frequently. I came today also since it’s the last day but the system is not working even today. I don’t know what to do,” said Sonam Youden, a resident of Yalang Gewog, Trashi Yangtse.

“This delay is not because our people did not come to file their taxes. It’s because the system is not working. Some people have to walk for six hours to reach the gewog office and when the system does not work, they have to walk back six hours again,” said Sonam, Yalang Gup, Trashi Yangtse.

“We had internet issues while collecting land tax. When we visited respective chiwogs, we had a tough time collecting tax on time due to poor internet connectivity. We had to move from one place to another in search of reliable internet connectivity. We had to call some of the taxpayers to the gewog office hoping for a better internet connection. We even have poor internet connectivity in the gewog office. As a result, taxpayers lodge various complaints for poor internet connectivity,” said Sangay Wangmo, Gozhi Mangmi, Dagana.

According to the National Land Commission’s record, there are close to 200,000 property owners in the country. Out of them, more than 154,000 taxpayers have paid their taxes amounting to around Nu 424 M.

While there are issues with system failures, the department says it has been receiving around Nu 4 to 5 M daily as tax payments, on average.

“I agree that there is a little problem but this problem has not been there for a long time. It has only been a few days. One main reason is that people wait until the last minute to pay their taxes. When the number of taxpayers increases to around 3,000 to 4,000, it overloads the system,” said Sherab Chogyel, officiating director general of the Department of Revenue and Customs.

He also said the interconnectivity of the property tax system with other systems like the Bhutan Integrated Revenue Management System or BIRMS for payment gateways and the e-Sakor system managed by the National Land Commission is also hampering its functionality. He said if any of these systems experience an issue, it directly impacts the property tax system.

“There are around 40,000 people who have not been able to pay taxes so far. As a solution, we sent a letter to the ministry. There will be no extension of time for tax payment but within one month starting today, if people pay their taxes, there is going to be an exemption on lay payment fees,” said Sherab Chogyel, officiating director general of the Department of Revenue and Customs.

The GovTech Agency, responsible for delivering efficient and technology-based government services stated that to address system overload issues, they are currently in discussions with the vendor who developed the system. They plan to address any design flaws and implement a solution to pre-calculate taxes for the upcoming tax season

Samten Dolkar

Edited by Kipchu

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