Fees in YPG areas under the name of “Taxes” from people’s pockets to PYD accounts

Various taxes imposed by “Self-Autonomous” include all society sectors without any exceptions even for non-producing sectors too, it various between income taxes, agriculture taxes for every process like using the land and harvesting, as well as industrial factories and trading to transportation and random taxes under different names, taxes collected only from areas under PYD authority where areas under regime authority in the "security square" in Qamishli and al-Hasakah and Christian-majority areas excluded from paying these taxes.

PYD taxes on agriculture sector

“Self-Autonmous” impose taxes on owners and investors of the lands in its held areas, some are known as the annual tax during harvest time and it is 25K SYP imposed on the investors by the “Syrian agriculture reform law” farmer goes by “Sh-H” in Malkyie in Hassakah countryside told NSO: PYD personnel told him to pay 25K SYP for harvesting wheat in the past year even though he paid 10 percent of the income to the land owner at the end of the season.

Another farmer “K-H” said PYD didn’t stop at 25k SYP but forced him to pay 5000 SYP for every checkpoint on the road from Malkyie and Qamishli which he 50K SYP for checkpoints until he delivered the wheat to the grain corporation under regime control.

“K-H” continued he paid a lot of bribes to grain committee employees so he paid about 200K SYP for PYD checkpoints and grain corporation employees which is another burden on the farmer added expensive to fertilizers and chemicals substance for farming especially fertilizers which 1 ton is more than 275k SYP.

In Efrin area next to Turkish borders north west Aleppo, a farmer from Jenderis said “Self-Autonomous” in olive season force tax on every farmer which is 1 small oil tank out of 5, he said last year his produce was 100 tank and they wanted as a tax 20, when he refused they threatened him of arrest and confiscate his property, and he asked them to take 10 only but they refused and he had to give them what they asked to avoid problems.

The farmer said in every village there is a committee of “Self-Autonomous” counting the farms and olive trees owned by each residents, saying every committee impose different tax from other committees because there is no law to systemize taxes and its amount.

NSO reporter in Efrin said “Self-Autonomous” impose seasonal taxes on production of agriculture especially olive and wheat, and it collect taxes through “Komins” or known as “Neighborhoods councils” and every tax is imposed on families according to their income and property.

In the end of 2016, Self-autonomous told all farmers to register the lands at its “Agriculture and Cattle corporation” in Ras al-Ayn in Hasakah countryside, saying every owner should register renting contract or there will be legal consequences for who doesn’t.

Income taxes and estimating it

Income tax considered the most important tax imposed by “Self-Autonomous” for it include majority of the citizens who own business in its held areas, in November 2016 Self-Autonomous issued decision estimating income tax in al-Hasakah province (al-Jazire canton) and started applying it in early 2017 after it was approved by “joined governorship” in Hasakah which is managed by PYD, and same law was applied in February 2016.

Self-autonomous said the income tax was discussed by cities councils and civil society organizations in its held areas which is managed by PYD and said the amounts of money paid by the people will be used in investing which will benefit the public like improving health sector, education system, municipalities system, woman and children safety as well as removing social classes boundaries, now PYD and its groups are trying to smooth the road to imposing income taxes in Manbij after it was imposed in Hasakah and Efrin.

According to what residents in al-Hasakah province shared by Assad regime and PYD, some residents pay the price of duel governorship there by paying taxes for both sides and sometimes same taxes like “Self-Autonomous” imposing shops licenses already licensed by regime.


Tax on transportation and crossing (Transit) and customs

Transportation and transit taxes also imposed by “Self-autonomous” in its held areas, a driver on al-Malkiye-Qamishli road called (M-A) said he pay monthly 3000 SYP to Self-autonomous “transportation committee” and 1000 SYP for environment as well taxes on income and electricity and all for “Self-Autonomous”.

(M-A) added he pay 40k SYP annually for regime transportation system saying those taxes paid to regime and self-autonomous put more burden on drivers in addition to expensive repair parts and using low-quality diesel from small oil refinery managed by PYD.

On transit taxes which is taxes imposed by “Self-Autonmous” daily on fuel, food supplies and everything coming from Azaz city in north Aleppo through its held area in Efrin to Idlib and in reverse in addition to passing fee from Nubul and al-Zahraa villages under regime control.

Fuel taxes is 5$ on each tank whole 1500SYP on each passanger from Idlib through Efrin to Azaz in Aleppo countryside and vice versa.


Customs and blackmailer middlemen

Self-Autonomous applied its customs law in area next to FSA-held areas, it impose tax on trucks loaded with goods entering PYD-held areas in customs management office “queue office” 10km west Manbij near al-Itihad private university.

A tradesman prefer to stay anonymous told NSO: we gather our vehicles after arriving from regime or opposition areas, the office force us to unload to its vehicles to pay unnecessary new fees or the tradesman contact middlemen in the office to avoid unloading by paying bribe could reach 1000$.

“Customs office” impose taxes on European cars which was imported after 2011 and the owner pay between 100-2000$ according to the car and its size.

Abu Mohamad a taxi driver told NSO:I had to pay 300$ to register my car and I didn’t have it so I had to sell my car for 500$ instead of leaving it away.

Self-autonomous impose 50k $ as insurance on customs trustees who work on Simalka border crossing connect city of Malkyie to Kurdistan Iraq, the customs trustee must pay it when he start working and it stay at the self-autonomous account until the trustee end his work then he claim the amount.

Random taxes estimated by the employee mood

In difficult condition, residents in Self-Autonomous held areas the taxes are expensive and there are always new taxes to withdrew money from civilians.
“Kh-M” a resident from Efrin said “Self-Autonmous” impose taxes and fees all the time with high amounts and sometimes it issue new laws to take more from civilians, who own a food shop or grocery shop have to pay 150K SYP and the limited income residents pay at least 2000SYP and who doesn’t pay imprisoned and his property confiscated.

“Kh-M” also added he owns a mini market in Efrin and they asked him to pay 150k SYP when he refused they threatened him with prison, raising the tax to 500K SYP and confiscate his car.

An activists from Rajo area in Efrin said Self-autonomous impose taxes on the financial situation of the civilian, they impose 1-3M SYP on currency change offices and 50k $ for money transfer office when it is open and given back when the office closed and the exchange office pay 5k $ monthly for same reason. oil factories pay between 300K-5M SYP on oil traders according to the tradesman and his financial situation for the Self-autonomous.

The activist added mass store for food and grocery pay between 200-500K SYP tax, retail grocery shop pay 50-150k SYP, pharmacies tax start from 50K SYP and sometimes the medicine is taken without paying.

“J-K” a shop owner in al-Malikyie city market in Hasakah countryside told NSO he pays 40k SYP for the Self-autonomous municipality to license the shop although it was licensed by regime municipality more than 10 years ago, in addition to these taxes paid by shop owners like income tax, cleaning tax and 500 fee for craftsmen union managed by self-autonomous.

In his turn “A-H” a doctor said he pay monthly 5000 SYP to Self-autonomous “doctors syndicate” in addition to 1000 SYP as cleaning tax and another 1000 for electricity, added that as a doctor he can pay those taxes but not farmers and small business owners and put more burden on them in addition to expensive goods and falling of Syrian pound.


Efrin residents have the hugest burden

“Self-Autonomous” add more taxes in Efrin because it is agriculture and manufacturing area, in addition to the arrival of a lot of families fled nearby areas witness clashes between regime forces and armed opposition since the beginning of Syrian revolution in 2011 and the fact that many tradesmen and manufactures took it as a place for their business.

NSO reporter in Efrin said the tax on the factories is according to the factory size and it start from 500K SYP to high amounts when Self-Autonomous impose on “berin” and soap factories about 20M SYP.

In 2014, Self-autonomous issued taxes law and set up an office for it in private bank in Efrin city, residents were happy to hear Self-autonomous saying this is for organizing taxes and not paying taxes twice ubder different names, but the reality didn’t change and there are many sides taking different taxes under different names like “Martyrs’ families corporation” and “Customs office”.

Worth to mention that Self-autonomous in Al-Jazire canton issued its budget of 2billions and 700M SYP for 2015 and same number for 2016 and it collect it from investing lands were under regime control in addition to various taxes imposed on civilians in its held areas and taxes on fuel and goods pass through its areas.

Not taxes or fees it is theft

Syrian judge and lawyer Ibrahim al-Hussain said no side can impose taxes and fees on citizens if it is not belonging to the state and has legal authority to impose those taxes and fees connected to the state income, and again we should emphasize that this is not an elected authority and illegal and what it impose on citizens is theft by force.

Judge al-Hussain added the regime still control areas Self-autonomous held areas which means the citizens in those areas pay twice where regime impose taxes on a sector which also taxed by PYD self-autonomous which is illegal and against the tax law.

Dirar Khattab

The Chief Editor, A Syrian journalist who worked as an editor of electronic press since 2009, and a Co-Producer of several documentaries since 2014. A banking and finance faculty from Aleppo University.