Travellers leaving Hong Kong by land next summer are likely to have to pay an $18 departure tax. The bill to introduce the tax will go to Legco by April, the government said yesterday. The levy may be added to ticket prices. The government will soon begin consulting the transport sector about how to collect the Boundary Facilities Improvement Tax. In a full year the tax is expected to bring in $1 billion. The government has come under pressure to introduce the tax because of rising budget deficit. This year the gap between revenue and spending is set to exceed $60 billion. Alan Lai, Permanent Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, said: 'It is possible that we would like to ask the transport companies to help the government collect the new tax, so we have to seek their opinions on the collection mechanism. 'This is similar to the airline companies collecting the airport tax for the government by including the levy in the ticket price.' Travellers who leave Hong Kong by air are required to pay a departure tax of $100. Adding the tax to ticket prices will save time and minimise inconvenience for travellers by train or ferry. But the government is yet to decide whether those who travel by car, coach or bus will be charged per head or per vehicle. It may even charge for both passengers and vehicles, said Mr Lai. Officials are also not sure if the millions of SAR residents who use Octopus charge cards to pay bus and train fares will be able to use them to pay the tax. It is expected that those who need to cross the border to go to school daily will be exempted from paying, but legislators want to expand this concession to cover the elderly and those who have to cross daily for work. The bill is expected to be approved before the current Legislative Council session ends in July. A spokesman for train operator KCRC confirmed the government had asked about its fare mechanisms, but said the corporation would need to learn more about the administration's options for collecting the tax before commenting further. Bus operator KMB said it was awaiting the details. A recent survey by the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong found 54.8 per cent support for imposing a land departure tax.