Y2K Brings the IRS to Bhutan
by Borgna Brunner
This article was posted on April 8, 1999.
A largely Tibetan Buddhist country of farmers and traders, Bhutan's traditional way of life remained unchanged for centuries. Until the 1960s it had no paved roads, no electricity, and no telephones.
Twentieth century intrusions have been deliberately minimal to prevent cultural erosion. One of the world's smallest national airlines, Druk Air has two planes; the capital, Thimphu, has no traffic lights. Traditional dress is required by royal decree, and tourism has been strictly limited.
Now Bhutan has its own version of the 1040, and the first tax returns are due in February 2000. Citizens earning more than $100 a month will be taxed between 5% and 30%. Granted, the new taxes will not cause too many ripples among the Bhutanese—the average annual per capita income is $730.
But what a shame that death and taxes are now mandatory just about everywhere.1
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