Indonesia's tax authorities are planning to revise the non-taxable income regulation again in an attempt to improve the nation's low tax ratio. Last year the government of Indonesia raised non-taxable income by 50 percent from IDR 36 million (approx. USD $2,700) to IDR 54 million (approx. USD $4,060), per year, in a bid to strengthen people's purchasing power and encourage household consumption. However, considering local minimum wages vary across the country's 34 provinces, the nation-wide non-taxable income level of IDR 54 million causes some problems.
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Today's Headlines Tax Reform
The Indonesian government is studying whether to remove the income tax on sovereign bonds (surat berharga negara, or SBN) which is currently set at 15 percent for Indonesia-based investors and 20 percent for non-resident investors. The Indonesian Finance Ministry and Financial Services Authority (OJK) will include this topic in the revision of the Income Tax Law (that is to be proposed to the House of Representatives in early 2017). Other revisions include a lower corporate income tax and a higher non-taxable income rate for individuals.
Local media in Indonesia report that the Indonesian government has a list of 6,000 names of Indonesians that are ready to repatriate their funds in order to take advantage of the tax incentive provided by the Tax Amnesty Bill. This controversial bill, which is currently being discussed by Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR), makes it attractive for tax evaders to repatriate their undeclared wealth into Indonesia as they are offered tax incentives and protection from prosecution.
Indonesia plans to cut taxes for local exporters in a bid to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves, while supporting the rupiah, as part of its second policy package. Indonesia’s rupiah has depreciated 18.1 percent since the start of 2015 due to looming higher US interest rates, low commodity prices, and China’s yuan devaluation. The government now plans to cut income tax on interest that exporters earn when depositing their export proceeds in local banks. Currently, income tax on bank interest (from deposit accounts) stands at 20 percent.
On Monday (11/05) it was reported - quoting an Indonesian tax official - that Indonesian President Joko Widodo had already ordered to cut the country’s corporate tax rate from 25 percent currently to below 18 percent in a bid to attract more investment and to make Indonesia’s business environment more competitive (for example, Singapore’s corporate tax is currently 17 percent). One day later, however, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro stated that, if the corporate tax is to be revised, it will be next year at the earliest.
Fuad Rahmany, Director General of Taxes at the Indonesian Finance Ministry, said that state revenue from taxes will not achieve the target that has been set in the Revised 2014 State Budget (APBNP 2014). Rahmany expects that only 94 percent of the target, or about IDR 1,008 trillion (USD $84 billion) will be achieved (this figure excludes import duties and excise duties). Classical problems that cause Indonesia’s low tax-to-GDP ratio include low tax compliance, the low number of tax officials, and weak government coordination.
The structure of tax revenue in Indonesia has not changed in the past decade resulting in the country’s still low tax-to-GDP ratio of between 12 and 13 percent. Emerging countries such as Indonesia typically have a low tax-to-GDP ratio as the government’s financial management is inadequate (and plagued by corruption). However, it is important for Indonesia to raise this ratio in order to have more funds available to finance the budget deficit, infrastructure development, healthcare, education and other social programs to combat poverty.
Latest Columns Tax Reform
One strategy of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to generate more state revenues in order to enhance investments in social and economic development of Indonesia is by improving the country’s tax collection system. As the middle class as well as number of companies that are active in Indonesia has risen rapidly in recent years, it is disappointing that tax collection targets are rarely met in Southeast Asia’s largest economy: tax compliance is low, while corruption among civil servants (tax collectors) remains a structural problem.
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