On December 15-16, the Parliament of Georgia adopted a bill increasing the excises on tobacco, motor vehicles, oil products, as well as taxes on gambling, starting from January 1, 2017.
The government plans to mobilize over GEL 500 million from these changes, to be used for funding the budgetary revenue gap produced as a result of the government’s corporate income tax reform, which is also set to go into force from January 2017.
According to the new bill, an excise on 1 ton of petroleum will increase from GEL 250 to GEL 500; 1 ton of diesel fuel – from GEL 150 to GEL 400; 1000 m3 of natural gas used as a fuel – from GEL 80 to GEL 200; and motor oils – from GEL 400 to GEL 800.
The initial draft proposed by the government entailed the increase of excise taxes on motor vehicles of almost all ages, but following the parliamentary discussions, the government agreed to increase taxes only on the import of vehicles that are six years old and older.
Excise tax on a 6-to-8-year-old car will increase up to GEL 0.8 per cubic centimeter of engine capacity; 9-year-old – GEL 0.9; 10-year-old – GEL 1.1; 11-year-old – GEL 1.3.; 12-year-old – GEL 1.5; 13-year-old – GEL 1.8; 14-year-old – GEL 2.1 and above 14 years – GEL 2.4
According to the new bill, excise tax on right-hand-drive vehicles will be set at three-fold amount of standard rate.
Customs clearance fees will remain unchanged for those motor vehicles, whose naval transportation was launched before publication of the law, instead of the initially envisaged date of December 1, 2016.
The amendments will also lead to the increase of prices on tobacco products that, according to the government’s forecast, will reduce consumption by 10%.
Excise tax on a pack of filtered cigarettes will be increased by GEL 0.60 to GEL 1.7, and on unfiltered cigarettes - by GEL 0.30 to GEL 0.60. Additional GEL 190-200 budgetary revenues will be mobilized as a result of this increase.
The tax amendments entail introduction of a property tax for car ownership for those physical persons, whose family incomes exceed GEL 40 000. According to the final draft of the legislation, this tax will not be fixed as entailed in the initial draft, but instead, will be defined according to the cost of a motor vehicle.
According to the amendments to a separate law, taxes will also be increased on gambling. Under the current regulation, a casino has to pay from GEL 15 000 to GEL 30 000 quarterly per table, and from GEL 1 500 to GEL 3 000 – per slot machine, while from January 1, 2017 these rates will increase from GEL 20 000 to GEL 40 000, and from GEL 2 000 – to GEL 4 000, respectively. Taxes on online gambling will increase to GEL 250 000 – GEL 300 000, from the current GEL 30 000 – GEL 60 000 per quarter.
During the parliamentary debates, opposition lawmakers heavily criticized the government’s plans for tax increases. MP Zurab Chiaberashvili of the United National Movement said that this step would result in the increase of prices on products.
President of the National Bank of Georgia, Koba Gvenetadze said on December 16, when presenting the document on the 2017-2019 monetary policy to the Parliament, that the planned increase of taxes may contribute to 1.5% growth in the inflation rate and that it would not exceed the forecasted annual target of 4%. Georgia’s annual inflation stood at 0.2% in November.
The National Bank forecasts 4% annual inflation in 2017 and 3% inflation in the following two years, according to the resolution approved by the Parliament on December 16.