Monday, November 1, 2010

Why criticize if you are not paying taxes

Whenever there is a price hike, a new budget or levy of a new tax, the media goes to streets and seeks comments from the “public and ordinary men.” And everyone is seen being highly critical of any such decision. The other day I was attending a marriage and happened to be sitting with a man I had never known before. Just to beat the boredom, I started a conversation with him. And obviously, slowly and gradually our conversation focused on the soaring prices and new taxes. And we seemed to be sharing the same view point, as do the people on the streets.

At one point I asked him as to what was his business or employment, to which he explained his business to me in quite details and he seemed to be making lot of money out of it. AS we were discussing taxes before, I abruptly asked whether he paid his taxes dutifully or not. Well to this, an “ahmm” thing followed and then he tried to explain to me that since the government was not providing the business community their due, it was difficult for the business community to pay their dues to the government in full.

I was rather taken aback, or should I say I shouldn’t have been taken aback as it is no secret now that a very few of those who owe meaningful taxes to the government do not pay it. They find loopholes in the system to dodge the government policies or simply bribe the taxmen to avoid paying taxes in full. The same goes for majority of small business men as well, the constituents of “street people.” When asking for their comments, the reporters should also ask them about them paying the taxes or otherwise.

I think except for those whose salaries are documented, that is to say the government employees, semi-government employees or employees of multi-national companies, a vast majority escapes taxes on one plea or the other. In other developing countries, no one can even think for a fraction of second to skip or dodge the taxmen and almost everyone fulfils one’s moral obligation towards taxpaying.

What happens to our taxes and how these are squandered by the lavish government officials is a separate issue, for which the tax payers must raise their voice and concern (although nothing would come out of it), but not paying taxes is unthinkable in any respectful society. No one has the right to protest if he is not paying taxes due to him. We have to start from us to change rather than waiting for the top to change. Having done that, we should constitute consumer committees, as is done in most of the countries, to apply checks on unprecedented self created price hike. I remember having read an article in The Readers’ Digest once where a community boycotted a store for using polythene bags instead of paper bags as they considered it to be environmentally not friendly. No one from the local community visited to store for almost a week till the store management started using the paper bags again.

I know it is easier said than done, but with a hawkish media in place, I think the consumers can make the difference to alleviate their sufferings at the hands of business community or government policies. At the same time, while paying our taxes, we should challenge the government for its unfriendly decisions and ask it to explain the rightful or otherwise use of the tax payers’ money and seek justice. Other than that no one has a right to criticize if not paying taxes.

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