Civil society urges govt to consider effects of increased property tax

Wednesday January 9 2019


The new  law o land states that tax rate on plot of land will vary between zero and Rwf 300 per square meter.PHOTO | Cyril NDEGEYA 

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Civil society organisations are appealing to the government to consider citizens’ concerns about the rise in property taxes and are pushing for amendments, six months after the implementation of the tax.

A gazette notice of October last year, ignited debate, especially about the increase in tax on residential houses from 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent of the actual cost, changes CSOs said were effected without grass roots consultations.

Speaking to this paper, Jean Leopold Sekanyange, head of the Civil Society Organisation platform, said citizen participation during the drafting of the law was fairly low, which eventually resulted in the outcry when citizens realised they would be affected.

Although the law was enacted last year in October, its actual implementation will begin in January and will be done in phases.

“That means we will have to wait at least six months to analyse the scale at which people comply with the law; whether there will be some resistance and then from there we shall commission a study that will look into critical details, before we call for a complete revision,” said Mr Sekanyange.

He added that despite citizens’ concerns, they will have to scrutinise other aspects of the law that will need to be revised together with the increase before they table their concerns.

“When the law was tabled before parliament, it sought to address other important issues so we can’t immediately dismiss it. We shall probe it and find out which issues can be changed,” said Mr Sekanyange.

Immaculee Marie Ingabire, chairperson of Rwanda Transparency International, is also pushing for amendments and added that CSOs delayed in identifying such provisions as early as possible and called for the ministry of finance to revise the law after consultations.

“Taxes like these will heavily indebt people,” she said while appearing on a talk show at the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.

The increased property tax means that if a citizen’s house is worth Rwf40 million, the owner will have to pay Rwf400,000 a year from Rwf40,000.

However, the increment will be effected in phases. So 0,25 per cent in the first year, then 0,50 per cent after two years, 0,75 per cent after three years while the one per cent will be charged after four years.