Tax on idle land may be changed

LAND SHORTAGES::The government is considering raising the tax on vacant plots to encourage owners to sell or lease them to firms that need them for expansion

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 13

The government is considering several measures to revitalize idle lands to help solve the problem of land shortages for manufacturing companies seeking to expand their operations, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said yesterday.

Based on a survey released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a total of 6,960 manufacturers, or 90 percent of factory owners in the nation, said they were looking for land to build new plants.

The ministry is scouting vacant plots that have not been utilized for more than three years and plans to increase the cost of ownership by canceling a preferential land value tax, Shen said.

According to the Land Tax Act (土地稅法), land designated for industrial use enjoys a preferential land value tax of 1 percent, instead of 5.5 percent.

Shen said the plan is to start levying a land value tax of 5.5 percent for idle or vacant lots after the Lunar New Year holiday at the earliest.

“We think the measure will encourage land owners to lease or sell their plots instead of leaving them idle or waiting for their value to increase over time,” Shen said.

Industrial Development Bureau Director-General Wu Ming-ji (吳明機) said the ministry was also drafting a new article for the Statute for Industrial Innovation (產業創新條例) that would allow the government to expropriate vacant industrial land.

The bureau said that among the 6,960 manufacturers that were looking to expand, 1,350 — or 19.4 percent — were pharmaceutical and biochemical companies, suggesting that the nation’s biochemical industry was booming and needed space to expand its production capacity.

More than 1,000 chemical companies, 900 petrochemical firms and 900 electronics companies also said they have met their production capacity limits and need to build new factories to meet increasing demand, the bureau said.

Wu said that as it is quite difficult to find large plots of vacant land in northern Taiwan, the bureau is working with the Ministry of the Interior and local governments to draft measures that would ease regulations on calculating building height and floor area ratios.

“Easing these ratios will allow certain types of manufacturers that do not require heavy machinery to expand their plants by building more floors,” Wu said.

Shen said that for central and southern Taiwan, the ministry has requested state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖) to release more of its idle land for leasing.

“Taisugar can also co-develop the land with local manufacturers if there are suitable projects,” Shen said.