More than five months ago, the Houthis started imposing the 20 percent levy – at times, more – on the owners of sand and gravel crushers, water companies and even chicken farms in areas under their control

Houthis have been charging controversial Hashemite tax for months

The recently formalized 20 percent religious tax that directly benefits the ruling Houthi family and others in their hereditary class has been carried out by the group informally for months, according to multiple sources who spoke to Almasdar Online on condition of anonymity.

More than five months ago, the Houthis imposed the 20 percent levy – at times, more – on the owners of sand and gravel crushers (raw materials for construction), water factories, water pump owners and even chicken farms in areas under their control.

At the end of 2019, the owners of the sand and gravel crushers were surprised by the Houthis’ demand of large sums of money, forcing them to hand over the value of one cubic meter of sand or gravel for every three cubic meters they sold. The price of three cubic meters of quality material has since jumped to 25,000 Yemeni riyals (about $42*), up from about 10,000 riyals (about $17), which had already reflected a threefold price increase from other Houthi-imposed taxes, the sources said.

The sources told Almasdar Online that before the "Executive Regulations of the Zakat Law" was issued on May 29, the Houthis had not declared  that the new taxes represented the imposition of the Shia economic system of Khums, or "fifth of Bani Hashim," which obligates followers to pay a tax of 20 percent of their earnings from natural resources.

However, several businesses in industries outlined in the bylaw, including one of Yemen's well-known water factories, have been forced to pay 20 percent of their total production to the Houthis.

According to the sources, the Houthis put their own representative inside the factory to monitor the packaging of bottles and later deduct their share of daily production.

While the taxes are harmful to the owners of the rock-crushing and water factories, they can be devastating to regular Yemenis who have to pay much higher prices for the end products. 

The controversial bylaw directs the disbursement of the tax to the Zaidi Shia Hashemite class, known as Bani Hashim, to which the Houthis belong. 

* All currency calculations based on a conversion rate of 600 Yemeni riyals per $1 in Houthi-controlled areas.


Edited by Casey Coombs



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