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MPs start debating income tax bill after 'drastic' changes made

House grants 'full exemption' from income tax to agriculture sector

By Raed Omari - Nov 14,2018 - Last updated at Nov 14,2018

Deputies are seen under the Dome during the Lower House's session on Tuesday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — The Lower House on Tuesday began its deliberations over the 2018 amendments to the Income Tax Law, turning down a request by some MPs to reject the controversial bill completely.

Of the 72 deputies present at Tuesday's session, 41 lawmakers voted against a request to reject the law and send it back to the government to make more changes.

The 13-member Islamist Reform bloc issued a statement recently, calling on the House to reject the new law, citing the bill's impact on citizens' livlihoods.

On Sunday, the House's Economic and Investment Committee wrapped up its amendments to the law, raising the income threshold for taxability for both families and individuals.

The committee has held a total of 36 meetings with various segments of society on the new law, its head Khair Abu Saileik was quoted by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, as saying. He added that the panel has amended around 70 per cent of the government's version of the bill.

Under the committee's amendments, the income threshold was raised from an annual JD18,000 (to go down to 17,000 in 2020) as in the government's version to JD20,000 for families and from JD9,000 to JD10,000 for individuals. 

Under the existing law, the figure is JD24,000 for households with JD4,000 in exemptions on VAT medical and educational receipts and invoices, and JD12,000 for individuals. 

The committee also amended the exemption threshold in the government’s version of the proposed bill to reach JD3,000 instead of JD1,000 in the government’s bill, providing that such expenses are covered by bills for health, education, loan interests or murabaha (an Islamic finance and investment instrument).

The House also granted “full exemption” to the agricultural inputs and outputs from income tax, disagreeing with the committee which suggested that individual farmers and agricultural companies whose annual income is less than JD25,000 and JD1 million respectively be exempted from the tax.   

Parliamentary sources told The Jordan Times on Tuesday that the general atmosphere inside the chamber supports the amendments of the Economy and Investments Committee, adding that the panel’s changes to the law have been made following agreements it reached with all concerned parties, including the government. “This would help MPs pass the law with no concerns of public anger,” the source, who preferred to remain unnamed, said.

The House is expected to vote on the bill in its entirety on Sunday.

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