On the face of it, people really hate taxes, especially in Jamaica and similar countries where corruption is viewed as endemic. No one likes going to the pumps or supermarket and paying that GCT. We are especially upset when we see taxes attached to essential items such as electricity.
People go out and protest on the streets when taxes go up, but it is my theory that it is not the taxes that they are protesting, instead they are demonstrating against the system that taxes them and does a poor job of redistributing the wealth.
People, when stopped in the streets and asked if we should have government-funded education from primary to tertiary, almost always agree with the idea. We see the same thing with healthcare, where a nation like Jamaica will implement free care at government hospitals because it is a popular thing. People want good roads and potable water and, on the face of it, have no issues with taxes or even paying high taxes as seen in the Nordic nations.
What really sticks in people’s craw is corruption and\or wanton waste of public funds (ie tax). That these bad actions lead to reluctance to pay and a basic dislike of the tax man is something that has been common knowledge for years. We need to ensure that our taxes are put to good use, and then I truly believe that people will not be so upset about paying taxes.
Certain things must be done before we can begin to imagine revenue collection matching our needs as a nation. Firstly the Government and Opposition must go on a speaking tour to educate the tax base (us regular people). They must explain that nothing is free (even if it’s State-funded) and the only way we can have a proper nation with functioning parts is through healthy (not unjust) taxation.
On the tour they should also offer an apology for the way that our tax dollars have been either wasted by incompetent persons or simply siphoned off in the web of corruption. They must ensure that such scandals as we have had, never happen again because those scandals turn a vast majority off of both politics and the idea of taxes.
If the State were to come down hard on offenders who violate the tax code that would also send the message home that taxes are both necessary and will be guarded vigilantly. Too often we see where the PAYE individual scrapes by while certain business establishments have not paid taxes in years. This is a major driving factor in our rabid hatred of taxes.
I see where we claim to be going towards a progressive taxation system. While that sounds good we may very well be left in a worse position. We have a country where established business refuse to pay taxes and that alone rubs people the wrong way.
They will be even more peeved when they realize that with the progressive taxation almost everything will incur GCT. If the state wishes to survive in any viable form then it must get everyone on board and paying taxes.
I say again that most people wouldn’t mind paying taxes if they saw solid returns. If we truly intend to generate some real growth in the economy while also lifting people out of poverty, then a stringent tax code is needed to ensure that everybody pays their fair share. We must ensure that our nation collects every red cent in tax money because that is the only way to maintain our “free” healthcare and education. It is the only way to fix the roads and quite frankly it’s the only way that we can make any progress towards something resembling a stable nation.