The Revenue Department is set to allow individual taxpayers to double the child allowance claimed for the second child onward to 60,000 baht each as part of fresh efforts to reverse the demographic shift towards an ageing society.
The amendment to the Revenue Code is under the Fiscal Policy Office's consideration and, if approved, the higher child allowance will come into force next tax year, said Prasong Poontaneat, director-general of the Revenue Department.
Starting from this tax year, the previous 15,000-baht cap on the child allowance -- limited to three children, whether biological or adopted -- was abolished.
Taxpayers can now claim deductions of 30,000 baht each for an unlimited number of biological children or up to three foster children.
The move is intended to encourage families to have more kids.
In a related development, the Revenue Department plans to let taxpayers claim tax deductions worth 60,000 baht for prenatal care, Mr Prasong said, though he did not specify when that measure would go into effect.
Tax perks are only one measure needed to encourage people to give birth to more children and increase the number of working-age people, he said. The government will also need other measures to signal to society that it is serious about the country's low birth rate.
The Revenue Department has yet to calculate how much revenue the government will forgo if the measures are enacted.
According to government estimates, people aged 60 and over will account for 20% of the total population by 2021, up from 16% now.
Thailand is already an ageing society as defined by the UN and will become an aged society by 2025.
A society is considered to be ageing when one-tenth of its population is over the age of 60 and aged when one-fifth is over 60.
Thailand was earlier recognised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for its achievements regarding birth control, but now the country is facing labour shortages, with local operators needing to hire migrant workers from neighbouring countries.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy experienced a baby boom during 1963-83, when more than 1 million children were born each year. But the birth rate has now dropped below 800,000 a year, with the fertility rate down to 1.6 children per woman from five children in 1974.
The government is giving a 600-baht monthly welfare benefit for newborn babies until the age of three, up from 50 baht in the past.