Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thailand's Proposed Land and House Tax Bill is Medieval, Theft

March 6, 2015 (ATN) - Centuries ago in Medieval Europe, despotic lords ruled over the land. They divided that land amongst their knights who in turn divided it amongst lesser servants and of course serfs. To live on the lord's land, one either gave a service or a determined amount of a good - usually an agricultural product. In other words, people would pay to live on the lord's land. Land may be passed down through families, but ultimately it never belonged to them. Ultimately it belonged to the lord who ruled over it.

In modern times, in most nations, the concept of owning your own land is considered one of several prevailing aspects of freedom. In Thailand, people have thus far enjoyed that freedom for generations. It was one of the many defining attributes that made Thailand truly free, as opposed to Western nations who claimed otherwise, even as they stripped their own people of such a basic right. That is, until now.

The Finance Ministry is considering what it is calling a "land and house tax bill." Thai PBS would report in its article, "Finance holds back land and house tax bill," that:
Finance Minister Sommai Phasiesrlier said that it was yet to be concluded the minimum value of a house which is to be taxed and the value of the house which will be exempted from taxation.
It was proposed that a house plus a land plot on which the house is located which are worth not more than one million baht will n be taxed and the one which is worth between 1-2 million baht will be taxed half of the tax rate whereas the one which is worth more than three million baht will be taxed the full amount of the tax rate.
Three tax rates have been proposed: 0.5 percent for land for farming and for residential purposes but in the initial period land for residential purpose will be taxed just 0.01 percent. The proposed tax rate for land for commercial purpose is 2 percent whereas the tax ceiling of unutilised land is 4 percent.
The concept of paying to live on your own land is, even at face value, absurd. Once one is forced to pay to live on their own land or in their own house, it is no longer their land or their house. It has become a "rental property." No matter how "small" the tax is the Finance Ministry claims it has planned, the moment people begin paying the Finance Ministry, they are essentially paying rent to live on the Finance Ministry's land, to live in the Finance Ministry's house.

While no penalties are discussed, since the Finance Ministry appears to be taking a cue from other nations that have regressed back to the Middle Ages, one assumes that those who fail to pay will have their property seized and sold. In other words, a bad tenant will be kicked out, and one ready to pay their rent on time and in the full amount allowed to move in.

For the Thai people, one might simply warn them that once a bill like this passes, and people are forced to pay rent to live on their own land and in their own homes, other bureaucrats, ministries, and political entities will also begin crossing the line between freedom and slavery, pushing the people back deeper into a cage increasingly difficult to escape from.

The Lies Justifying Land and House Taxes 

The Finance Ministry claims that the money it takes from people will be used to develop local communities. But taxation in and of itself is not an alien concept in Thai society. Taxation already is used for "local development," but because of rampant corruption, that money never seems to be spent when, where, and for what it is needed. Simply collecting more money, and doing so through ever more dubious arrangements, will simply enlarge the pool of money politicians and bureaucrats will siphon off from.

Representatives in the Finance Ministry have also claimed that "other countries" have levied such taxes, therefore Thailand should as well. This comment of course is based on the common logical fallacy known as "bandwagon," or "appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation." It is throw-away rhetoric indicative of the dishonest and scheming.

Other lies being floated to justify land and house taxes include suggestions it will help alleviate socioeconomic disparity. But already, taxes will be levied against homes between 1-2 million baht (30,000-60,000 USD) which encompasses virtually any home built today that is not a shack.

Land and house taxation will fall hardest on the low and middle class, while the wealthy, as they have always done, will simply skirt taxes through bribery, political influence, or legal maneuvering. Immense corporations, both Thai and foreign, who hold thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of rai (1 rai = 0.4 acres), will likely escape such taxes or pay at vastly reduced rates. This is not simply what observers believe will happen in Thailand based on corruption already prevalent in Thai society, but also based on what has happened in all other nations that have implemented similar taxation schemes.

Any serious attempt at tacking socioeconomic disparity must target only those who possess land they are not living on, are not developing, and who are clearly using such land for speculation and/or business. Taxing even the rich to simply live on their own land is fundamentally wrong. If "rent" is to be paid, it should be paid first, and only by corporations, particularly those based overseas.

What Land and House Taxes Really Mean - A Return to Serfdom 

What the Finance Ministry is instead doing, is erasing land ownership, deeds that have been in people's families for generations, land that has been hard worked for and hard fought for, and transferring it for all intents and purposes to the Ministry. The Ministry will be "renting" it out in the form of taxation, and while "tenants" will still be able to buy and sell land as they have previously done, and use the land more or less as they see fit, these are merely liberal terms in a new rental contract the Finance Ministry is trying to "craft" amid its upcoming bill. Those failing to pay their "rent" will have their land seized, if not in the upcoming bill, surely in iterations soon to come.

Once land and house taxes become a new stream of revenue for the parasitic politicians that squat on all peoples in all nations, whether it be Thailand or the United States, the temptation will become increasingly irresistible to take more, increase penalties for failing to pay, and using new laws, rules, and regulations to enrich those who place themselves in charge of this racket.

Therefore, the Thai people must resist this bill. It is fundamentally wrong. It represents an egregious regression against  freedom and invites further abuses in the future. If the Finance Ministry is short on cash, it should check existing revenue streams for "leaks" and "illegal reservoirs" created between those providing the money and those who need it most. It is likely the Finance Ministry and the various ministries it funds can do twice as much with half of what they already collect, should existing revenue be used properly, efficiently, and honestly.

Sorting out corruption would be a much more honest and worthy pursuit than asking people to pay more - and worst of all - to pay to live on their own land, turning them from free people, into slaves toiling for bureaucrats like in an age of neo-serfdom.