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Thai Prime Minister shelves controversial land and buildings tax bill

Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has held back the controversial land and buildings tax bill, arguing that it is untimely under the current economy.

Boris Sullivan

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Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has held back the controversial land and buildings tax bill, arguing that it is untimely under the current economy.

Government spokesman Yonyuth Maiyalarp revealed the decision of the prime minister to put on hold the bill saying the bill won’t be table for cabinet consideration next Tuesday. He said the prime minister has ordered the Finance Ministry to hold back the bill indefinitely.

Thailand’s Finance ministry had proposed new rates for land and building taxes earlier this week, which will widen the ceiling tax waiver amount for residences to 1.5 million baht from earlier proposed 1 million baht, in what was seen as a fresh attempt to ease public concern.

Based on the effective tax rates, an estimated 200 billion baht will be collected, up from 25 billion collected under the current local development tax and house and land tax, Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said after meeting with the Committee on Monetary, Finance, Banking and Financial Institutions.

It remains to be seen what effect the government’s aborted attempt to get a new tax on land and housing had on the realty market. Gen Prayut ordered a study to prevent any impact on people, Mr Yongyuth said, adding that how long the tax on land and buildings should be delayed would depend on the overall economy.

Despite the new softened version of the much criticized law, it still raises concerns that home and land owners in areas where land prices are high would be forced to sell their assets to investors when they cannot absorb the tax burden.

The spokesman said that there was no mentioning of timeframe to put the bill on hold while affirming that the decision was not made under pressure by the societies or because the bill received widespread opposition from the public.

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