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The people are hungry: It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes.

>Lao Tzu

Departure tax. That’s something that has always really miffed me. Not that I have to pay it that often – I rarely go overseas – but the whole idea that a citizen has to pay a tax just for the effrontery of leaving their beloved motherland - if only for a few days - is just beyond belief in my opinion.

But that is the case in Indonesia. Rp1 million (US$110) every time you leave this wonderful country. Even if you just want to go to Singapore for the weekend!

Of course the departure tax was never really meant to be a tax anyway, but merely a way of making overseas travel expensive for the minions. Got to protect them from the pernicious influences of foreign cultures after all. Cos who knows what nasty diseases they are going to bring back with them on their return home?

And the Indonesian elite couldn’t care less of course. US$100 is peanuts for them as they set off to more distant countries such as the United States to spend their fortunes, ill-gotten or otherwise.

The tax is equally absurd from an economic perspective. Cos in addition to discouraging Indonesians from going overseas for holidays, the tax also discourages small-scale businesspeople from doing business overseas and making vital contacts with potential foreign business partners. And worst of all, Indonesians are denied the opportunity of experiencing foreign cultures firsthand and learning how business practices work in other countries.

But finally things appear to be changing. Cos according to an email I got yesterday, you will no longer have to pay the departure tax if you leave Indonesia via Batam. Note however that you will be required to have a photocopy of your passport to hand over, and that if you leave Indonesia via any other place other than Batam you will still have to pay the departure tax. Anyway, here’s the letter (nevermind the English):


FINANCE DEPARTMENT REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA
DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF TAX
BATAM TAX SERVICE OFFICE

ANNOUNCEMENT
No.: Peng – 2/WPJ.02/KP.08/2006
Related to application of PP. No 41 year 2001 concerning about Changing of
Government Regulation No 42 year 2000 about Payment of Personnel Income Tax for who’s will go abroad, and the Decision of Director General Tax No. KEP-60/PJ/2004 about the Administrative Guideline of Implementation of the Foreign Fiscal:
Advised as the following:

1) Every passenger who will go abroad should make a copy of Passport for
every departure. Copy of passport should be pass to Fiscal Officer at the
Check Point of Harbor / Port.
2) Every passenger who can not full-fill this regulation shall need to pay the
Personnel Income Tax who is going abroad ( Fiscal ).
3) This regulation effective since 01 November 2006.If there is not clear of this announcement, you can contact Unit of Foreign Fiscal at harbor / port or contact Batam Tax Office with Phone No. 0778-452010 ext. 314
office hours.





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