11:28, Wednesday, 03.03.2021
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New Taxes – New Puzzle for Farmers


Tea Topuria, Tbilisi-Dedoplistskaro

In accordance to the amendments to the Tax Code, the taxes on the land will increase from January of 2011. The new tariff for one hectare of the land will be 50-150 GEL and it will be estimated in accordance to the harvest received from the plot. However, the mechanisms to estimate the amount of harvest have not been clarified yet.

The amendment to the Tax Code (Article 204) estimated tariff from 1,5 to 20 GEL on lawn fields and pastures; 50-100 GEL will be tariff for other plots. Besides that, the local authority will be able to increase the tariff up to 150 GEL based on their decision.

The farmers are confused by the new law. If the taxes are estimated in accordance to the harvest from the plots, the local authorities still use old data, worked out during the collective farms in the Soviet Time while the situation is completely different now. The climate has changed throughout the world; some territories are getting deserted in Georgia; so, old data cannot work now.

Ana Benashvili, coordinator of the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) in Dedoplistskaro district: “Shiraki lands used to be very fertile in the past but now they have become barren. Dedoplistskaro is the most vulnerable district. If a farmer owns 100-150 hectares here, they will have to pay more taxes. The climate is being changed. The temperature is rising every year. Consequently, they receive less harvest. Farmers from Dedoplistskaro request the government to take the climate changes into consideration and estimate the low limit for land tariffs in this district; that is 50 GEL for one hectare of the land.”

Farmers in the Dedoplistskaro district mostly grow wheat, barley, and sunflower. They have lawn fields and pastures too which are getting deserted.

Giorgi Gonashvili, farmer: “I own 20 hectares. We used to pay 44 GEL for one hectare of the fertile land in our district and 24 GEL for the barren one. Now, the minimal tax is 50 GEL. Besides that, the local authority can increase the tax up to 150 GEL based on their personal decision though they cannot reduce the payment. Categorization of the land had never taken place before and as far as I know they are not going to do it now either. It is too expensive procedure. They used the data prepared during soviet time and now I do not know what they will do – will they rely on the old data or not. We have had very meager harvest for the last few years. We have to take drinking water by bottle to the field not to say anything about irrigation water. So, how can we receive good harvest in similar conditions?!”

Nobody told us whether the government intends to study the quality of the lands and to create a new data base for it or not. Just the opposite, the ministries of agriculture and finances have very poor knowledge of this problem.

Marika Khoperia, spokesperson of the Ministry of Finances: “The land tax will be 50-150 GEL. Amendments were not introduced to the law; the sum was the same in the old code too. However, the old Tax Code estimated taxes for every quality land but now the local authorities will estimate the tariffs for it. This tariff will be finally agreed at the government’s session. The Ministry of Agriculture should know the criteria for the estimation of the tariffs.”

Although Marika Khoperia said tariffs were equal in the old and new codes, the laws do not contain similar information at all. Old edition of the Tax Code (article 273) requested 8 GEL for one hectare of the land in several districts (Shuakhevi, Kharagauli, Chiatura…) the highest tax – 57 GEL – was in Tbilisi and Marneuli district. So, we cannot say that the tariff was not changed.

As for the intention of the ministry of agriculture to study the quality of the lands, the ministry concluded that it was beyond their competence to reply to this question.

The practice of the recent years demonstrates that the problem of the farmers from Dedoplistskaro district is very urgent and the government should pay more attention to this fact. Process of climate changes cannot be halted and it will impact Georgia as well other countries in the world.

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