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To Abolish Werko Tax on Urban Property Gradually in Palestine

(J. T. A. Mail Service)

The Werko, the oppressive property tax, an inheritance of the Turkish regime, will gradually be abolished, at least in so far as house and land property in urban areas, according to an official announcement of the Palestine Government.

It is intended to replace gradually the Ottoman tax on house and land in urban areas which is prescribed at present under two laws, namely, the Werko Tax Law, which is in force in all Municipal Areas, except Haifa, Acre and Shafr-Amr, and the Musaqafat Tax Law which was applied to those three towns, the official announcement declares.

The basis of the former law is a tax on the capital value of immovable property which in towns is at the rate of one per cent of that value, while the basis of the Musaqafat Law is a tax on the annual income derived from such property. The Ottoman Law provided for a general re-assessment of immovable property for the purpose of a tax every ten years; but with the exception of an assessment under the Musaqafat Law which was made in Haifa in 1920, no general revaluation has been made in Palestine since before the war.

The new law provides for a re-assessment in all urban areas, but it will be carried out successively in different towns by order of the High Commissioner.

The basis of the new ordinance is generally similar to that of the Musaqafat Law, but differences of detail of advantages to the tax-payer, have been introduced.

The tax on house property, where a building is being newly constructed, will not be payable for three years from the commencement of the construction. House property which has been constructed within two years prior to the date of an order issued under the ordinance will not be liable to pay tax until the beginning of the third year from the completion of the building. Where property is owned in common, any one of the co-owners is liable to pay the tax.

It would be difficult to recover the tax from each of a large number of co-owners on account of the minute sub-division of the ownership of properties. Many co-owners are not known because of the failure to register their shares in the Land Registers, and in many cases a number of the co-owners are absent from the country. Where, however, one co-owner is called upon to pay the tax, he will be able to attach the property and the revenue therefrom till he has reimbursed himself for the share due from the other co-owners.

For the assistance of industries, it is provided that the value of plant and machinery placed in an industrial undertaking is not to be taken into account in determining the annual value of the premises.

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