The queues ran long and late into the night

 Traffic in Jakarta. Kichigin/Shutterstock
Traffic in Jakarta. Kichigin/Shutterstock

Around 2,750 people lined up at Indonesia’s tax headquarters to beat the deadline of the first phase of the tax amnesty program — with some even queuing up until late night.

In a handwritten letter to the tax office revealed on Sunday, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani commended officials for accommodating applicants. “In the morning, afternoon, evening and up until the early hours, everyone participated in handling the public enthusiasm with patience, attention, smiles and spirit to show that tax directorate general is trustworthy and needed by our people,” she wrote.

Such eleventh-hour efforts made a surprising windfall for the tax amnesty program, plagued by lackluster response when it launched on Jul. 1. As of Friday, the government collected IDR97.1 trillion (USD7.45 billion) in income from penalty fees, representing 58.85 percent of its target.

Among other benefits, the first phase of the tax pardon promised tariffs as low as 2 percent for assets that had been reported by Sept. 30. Around IDR135 trillion (USD10.4 billion) in assets were repatriated by the end of the month.

More: Invest in real estate, tax amnesty participants in Indonesia urged

A total of 347,033 participants participated in the first phase of the tax amnesty scheme. The current phase of the program will end in December, with tariffs set as low as three percent.

Experts are urging the government to funnel the repatriated funds into sound investments. “What is most important is where the funds is to be invested,” The Association of Indonesian Employers chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani told Antara. “They would not help in driving the economy if they are to be put in banks. Therefore, the government should identify the projects either infrastructure or public housing projects or to help or small and medium enterprises.”

President Joko Widodo has said he will direct funds from the tax amnesty to state infrastructure projects. Widodo invited big-profile entrepreneurs to dinner at the State Palace on Sept. 22 to persuade more sign-ups for the amnesty.

The program has attracted affluent participants from various sectors of Indonesian society, including Tommy Suharto, son of former President Suharto, and Eric Thohir, owner of the Inter-Milan and DC United soccer clubs.

Tax and real estate law will be one of the discussions in the next Property Report Congress on 13 October 2016 at the Fairmont Jakarta. The whole-day conference Property Report Congress Indonesia is a dedicated, high-level forum for industry leaders, VIPs, and real estate professionals to discuss how to continue driving growth and excellence in one of the world’s dynamic real estate markets. For tickets, partnerships and enquiries, visit the official website or contact Mailto:Amy@propertyguruinternational.com.

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