Have a Happy Junta New Year With Free Wi-Fi, Travel Tax Break

Miss Thailand World 2015 pageant contestants board Kanchanaburi province's 'Death Railway.'
Miss Thailand World 2015 pageant contestants board Kanchanaburi province's 'Death Railway.'

BANGKOK — As New Year “gifts,” the military cabinet Tuesday announced a raft of benefits including travel tax rebates, free Wi-Fi and lower interest rates at state-run pawnshops.

For the whole of 2018, all taxpayers – Thai nationals and expats alike – can claim tax rebates for up travel to 55 lesser-visited provinces, the cabinet announced after meeting today in Sukhothai province. That means up to 15,000 baht for expenses such as lodging and transportation costs can be claimed as tax write-offs. The amount of tax savings will depend on income level and tax bracket.

The 55 provinces include Udon Thani, Tak, Phetchabun, Suphan Buri, Ubon Ratchathani, Trang, Phayao and Phichit.

Newly installed Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the 55 provinces were chosen to encourage travel to lesser-visited locales. A total of 20 million baht has been earmarked for the tax rebate next year. The ministry will also consider some parts of Chiang Mai and Surat Thani provinces, excluding Koh Samui.

Taxpayers must save bonafide receipts from their hotel or homestay accommodations, travel agencies, food, souvenirs and other transportation expenses incurred as a result of tourism or seminar. Expenses must be made between New Year’s Day and Dec. 31, 2018.

Also on the feel-good list – free Wi-Fi coverage in rural communities.

The cabinet said Wi-Fi installations will eventually cover 24,700 rural communities, though it expects to reach just short of 20,000 by the end of 2018.

Finally, the military government wants to help people pay less to reclaim their pawned goods. Regulations will be drafted to reduce the interest charged at state-run pawnshops for the month of January. It was unclear as of press time how much the reduction would be.

Here’s the full list of the 55 provinces eligible for travel tax rebates:

Nakhon Si Thammarat, Udon Thani, Chiang Rai, Lopburi, Phitsanulok, Suphan Buri, Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Nayok, Nong Khai, Sa Kaeo, Loei, Tak, Trat, Phetchabun, Chanthaburi, Mukdahan, Nakhon Sawan, Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Buriram, Chaiyaphum, Phatthalung, Trang, Sisaket, Prachinburi, Satun, Chumphon, Sukhothai, Surin, Sakon Nakhon, Lamphun, Nakhon Pathom, Uttaradit, Ranong, Lampang, Roi Et, Mae Hong Son, Pichit, Phrae, Chai Nat, Nan, Ang Thong, Maha Sarakham, Kamphaeng Phet, Uthai Thani, Narathiwat, Yala, Phayao, Bueng Kan, Kalasin, Yasothon, Sing Buri, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Amnat Charoen and Pattani.