Govt to push idle land tax revival

THE government is reviving the forceful implementation of the 1970s-era idle land tax to encourage full utilization of idle and “virgin” agricultural lands across the country, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

Purisima said his department is holding consultations with the Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Agriculture (DA) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to force local government units (LGUs) to resume implementing the law.

“In 1970, there was actually an idle land tax. That is why I am trying to take this opportunity to revive this idea and to urge local government to implement the idle land tax,” he said.

Purisima said the re-imposition of the idle land tax would “increase agricultural production” and bring in additional revenues for the LGUs instead of just relying on their internal revenue allotment (IRA).

“Kadalasan, ang lupa hindi nagagamit. Ginagamit lang pang-capital appreciation at investment in the future. Kasalanan po iyan. That is why I encourage the local government to look at that area,” he said.

He said the national government does not expect windfall revenues from the idle land tax but its net effect would be lesser agricultural lands that are left idle and uncultivated.

“There’s no significant additional revenues from it (idle land tax). What we’re after is increasing agriculture production by at least 5 percent,” Purisima said.

“We are encouraging utilization of agricultural lands,” he added.

The country has been imposing taxes on idle lands since 1974 through Presidential Decree (PD) 464. But its effective implementation has been hampered by politics and land-owning interests.

While its scrapping remains unclear, lawmakers have filed measures seeking the imposition of an idle land tax.

In the House of Representatives, Reps. Sonny Angara Jr. and Rey Umali have filed separate bills seeking its re-enforcement.

The Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991, which devolves to LGUs the power to generate income by levying taxes, fees and charges, defines idle agricultural lands as those lands that are suitable for cultivation, dairying, inland fishery, and other agricultural uses, but has one half of its area uncultivated or unimproved. Dino Ng

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