Is the Equalization of Land Rights Act constitutional in providing that the competent authority may levy land tax based upon the government-assessed (or publicly notified) value if the parties concerned failed to declare the transfer value within the specified period or the declared value is lower than the assessed value?
Article 48, Paragraph 2, of the Equalization of Land Rights Act seeks to ensure timely payment of tax by taxpayers and to prevent false declaration, so as to achieve the aim of sharing the increment with the people in common. This does not contravene provisions in Articles 15 and 19 and 143, Paragraph 3, of the Constitution.
Article 48 of the Equalization of Land Rights Act stipulates: "Upon a transfer of land title, the following shall become applicable if, within a specified period, no application is filed for a change of registration and no declaration of the land value at the time of transfer is submitted: 1) the competent authority shall notify the landowner and taxpayer, in writing, to submit such application and declaration within ten days; and 2) if the landowner and taxpayer fail to comply with the foregoing paragraph, or if their declared land value at the time of transfer is lower than the government assessed land value at that time, the competent authority shall notify the parties to adopt the government assessed land value as the land value at the time of transfer, and to levy land value tax." The aforementioned provision seeks to ensure timely payment of tax by taxpayers and to prevent false declaration, so as to achieve the aim of sharing the increment with the people in common. This is consistent with the objective in Article 143, Paragraph 3, of the Constitution which provides: "If the value of a piece of land has increased, but not through the exertion of labor or employment of capital, the State shall levy thereon an increment tax, the proceeds of which shall be enjoyed by the people in common," and does not contravene Articles 15 and 19 of the Constitution. If no declaration of tax is made within the specified period, the land value tax, being a profit resulting from the natural increase of land value, assessed by the governing authority should be levied upon the beneficiaries of the said profit. The foregoing has been explained in this Yuan's Interpretation No.180. Translated by Wei-Feng Huang of THY Taiwan International Law Offices.