Paying zakat on a piece of land
I own a piece of land. I have not yet decided what I will use it for. Does it come under zakatable property once it is sold or realizes its value?
Let me first say this to all readers. When a person is given more than his needs, he should be grateful to God the Almighty. He should express his gratitude by alleviating other people’s burdens through zakat and sadaqah [voluntary charity].
We should always remember that what we have can easily be taken away, and that the best way to preserve it is to treat it as God’s gift for which we have to pay what is due on it such as zakat and more. Therefore, no one should regret paying much in zakat, because paying more zakat means that he has been given more than others. Therefore, when we are unsure whether or not a particular item is zakatable, it is better to take the more cautious approach and pay zakat on it, because this could be treated either as obligatory or voluntary. In either case, we earn a reward for it and God records our payment as an act of gratitude to Him. He tells us: “If you are grateful, I will give you more.”
Having said that, my advice is to determine which course of action you think is most fitting to take. If you still cannot decide, then take the more cautious approach and pay zakat on the piece of land on a yearly basis. Since you are not certain whether or not you wish to build a structure on it, then it is more likely that you will sell it if you receive a good offer. Hence, it is better to treat it as a commercial commodity that is subject to zakat annually.
And God the Almighty knows best.