People, Environment

Pollution Tax Wrongly Collected by Municipalities

Pollution Tax Wrongly Collected by MunicipalitiesPollution Tax Wrongly Collected by Municipalities

An official at the Department of Environment said green taxes levied on polluting industrial units should be paid to the department, not Tehran municipalities.

Iran introduced green taxes in 2009 to promote sustainable development and reduce the impact of industrial activities on the environment, but the levy is paid to municipalities even though the DOE is the authority responsible for environmental issues.

Speaking on the radio program Sayyareh Abi (Persian for blue planet) on Tuesday, Shina Ansari, director of the department’s Comprehensive Monitoring Office, said eco-taxes must be used to fix and restore environmental damage, ILNA reported.

“The DOE or National Environment Fund can monitor how the money is spent,” she said.

“Nevertheless, even if these entities never receive the levy, municipalities have to spend green taxes on protecting the environment—that’s the entire point of pollution charges.”

Taking a page from psychology textbooks, Ansari said negative reinforcement (such as charging taxes) can only yield results if they are complemented by positive reinforcement, such as honoring industries that comply with environmental regulations and stay below pollution limits.

Polluting industries are charged 1% of their annual revenue as environmental (or pollution) tax, according to Article 38 of the Value Added Tax Law that went into effect in 2009, but the law is far from perfect.

“It’s full of holes,” Saeed Motessadi, deputy for human habitats at DOE, said in February.

“For instance, pollution tax must be calculated based on the emissions of an industry, not its income.”

Environment officials accuse municipalities of lack of transparency when it comes to how pollution taxes are spent.

“What portion of that money has the municipality spent on addressing environmental concerns?” Motessadi asked, stressing that obliging industries to pay the levy to Tehran Municipality makes little sense.