$7.5bn collected in Jakarta tax amnesty

$7.5bn collected in Jakarta tax amnesty

People wait at a help desk set up as part of the Indonesian tax amnesty campaign at the Finance Ministry in Jakarta on Friday. (Reuters Photo)
People wait at a help desk set up as part of the Indonesian tax amnesty campaign at the Finance Ministry in Jakarta on Friday. (Reuters Photo)

JAKARTA: The first phase of Indonesia's tax amnesty, which tens of thousands joined in its final days, collected 97.2 trillion rupiah (US$7.45 billion) in revenue to help cover the government's fiscal deficit, Finance Ministry data showed on Saturday.

A total of 366,757 taxpayers, including some of the wealthiest individuals in Southeast Asia's largest economy, signed up for the first phase that concluded on Friday, the ministry said on its website.

They declared assets worth a total of 3,620 trillion rupiah ($278 billion), with 137 trillion rupiah pledged to be repatriated to Indonesia, it said.

The sums collected represent about 59% of the target of the goal of 165 trillion rupiah set for the programme, which continues until March, but with higher penalty rates as of this weekend. However, officials have acknowledged that the bulk of the revenue would come from the first phase. They declined to comment on whether the target would be revised.

What began as a trickle has turned into a flood as rich Indonesians, from businessmen to the son of the former dictator Suharto, lined up to participate in the programme. 

Last week, and in particular on Friday, citizens thronged tax offices to take advantage of the lowest penalty rate of 2% on previously unreported assets.

The penalty rate rises by 1-2 percentage points from Saturday and will go higher on Jan 1, for the amnesty's third and final phase, which ends on March 31.

President Joko Widodo visited Jakarta's main tax office on Friday night.

The response to the amnesty "serves as momentum for us to reform our taxation system, increase our tax base and increase our tax ratio", he told reporters.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati called the first-phase results "encouraging".

About two-thirds of the funds declared come from onshore sources, according to data from the tax office. The bulk of the 1,075 trillion rupiah in assets held abroad looks set to remain overseas in places such as Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, the Virgin Islands and Australia, with only about 14% of that amount being repatriated.

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