Kayhan: 'What happened? Nothing!'
20 Jul 2010 23:17
It was after the Tehran Friday prayer. I was hurrying to the newspaper when a youth put a hand on my shoulder. He had a luminous face, like all the people at the Friday prayers service. He greeted me and shook hands as always but would not say goodbye. He asked, is it true the Tehran bazaaris have closed down in protest against taxes? I said not all of them, but the report is correct. He said I read somewhere that the total taxes collected from the guilds and bazaaris is only five percent of all the taxes the government collects. I replied in the affirmative. He asked: How much is the tax share of you and I and other staff and laborers that is deducted from our salaries on the first of each month? I said as far as I know between eight and nine percent of the entire nation's tax collections. He asked, is that just? Which one? I asked. The taxes taken from us wage earners or the taxes the guilds and the bazaaris pay?
He said we have no complaints. I am talking about the guilds and the bazaaris, with that enormous wealth and the huge incomes many of them have. I said no, it is not just. Their share is much more than what they pay. He asked, meaning they take taxes from us laborers, staff and oppressed low-income classes to spend on the welfare and security of bazaaris and provide services to the wealthy? I am not happy about this. I said all bazaaris are not like this. Most of them are believers and religious people who know the difference between the permitted and the forbidden and they know the rights of the people. He asked then why do they sit silently in the face of the bullying of a minority? I said they have not been silent. Many of them are seeking a just solution and of course more is expected of them. He indicated the street we were standing by and said these streets were built with our money, but the rich people who do not pay taxes travel on it with their expensive high-model vehicles. Our homes do not need police surveillance. What naive thief is wasting his time stealing from our homes? They are spending money out of our pockets to provide financial and life security for wealthy people who avoid taxes, skyscrapers, luxury and nobility homes, ultra modern villas in the areas of the nation with the best climate and ... [as published]
He took a fresh breath and said I know you are in a hurry, but just one more question. In your view, if the bazaaris closed their shops forever, what bitter and undesirable thing would happen? I said do not judge all of them this way. He said the question pertains to the ones who close their shops and make a commotion every time the issue of taxes arises. It was a difficult question and perhaps for this reason I had never thought about it. The enthusiastic youth came to my aid and said most of the bazaaris are just retailers. They do not produce. The government could establish sales centers in various parts of the city, in other words the same thing it does during the New Year holidays. With this measure, in addition to the creation of employment for many unemployed youth, prices would be controlled, taxes could be precisely calculated and with the use of the barcode system they could be easily calculated with complete justice.
I hesitated a little. It was not difficult to answer his question, If the bazaaris closed their shops forever what bitter and undesirable thing would happen? I answered confidently: "Nothing!!" The tax percentage on GDP in the advanced and developed nations is more than 45 percent. In the developing nations this percentage is 15 to 20 percent, while in Iran it is between 7 and 8 percent. In other words, in Islamic Iran the lowest taxes are collected and for this reason our nation is famous in the world as a "tax haven."
Tax evasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran is 50 to 60 percent. Laborer and salaried workers pay their taxes as deductions whether they like it or not before receiving their monthly pay. Although in some cases industry owners and producers of goods create accounts to evade taxes, their taxes are calculated according to formula and procedure and they pay in accordance with the law. Therefore the question is who evades the payment of taxes and creates the 50 to 60 percent tax-evasion figure? The Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs has divided the guilds into groups A, B, and J. Group A includes the guilds that have enormous financial circulation and are mostly importers and exporters. This group has been required to maintain daily and general accounts and make them available to tax agents.
Although Group B has huge and significant financial circulation, they are at a lower level than Group A. This group is obligated to keep books on income and expenses. Group J includes retailers and ordinary shopkeepers. This group, which includes almost all bazaaris, must provide the Tax Affairs Organization with a summary of income and expenses on a standard form; they must register it and record it and give it to tax officials. Most tax evasion is done by the people in Groups A and B. The people in these two groups -- not all of them -- despite their astronomical and enormous incomes are not only unwilling to pay taxes, meaning the right of the people, but whenever the question of their tax accounts is raised they resort to blackmail, lying, spreading rumors and even threatening the bazaaris, and through mercenaries they do things like closing shops while trying to make a political event of their tax evasion! At the same time using foreign media they try to attribute to all believing and committed bazaaris ugly and impure measures like this for which the most appropriate term is "devouring the assets of the people!"
A reliable report indicates that a small number of merchants and big gold and jewelery bazaar sellers are responsible for most of the destructive activities in instances such as this. With calculations and studies the government has come to the conclusion that the revenues of the guilds have increased significantly since the year 1387 [two years ago] and finally in talks and consultations with union and guild officials they have settled on a 15 percent revenue increase and they are making tax demands in this same amount. The guilds in Group J, meaning almost all bazaaris, are in agreement with this figure but the people in Group A and people in Group B are claiming that the market has been stagnant in the last two years and this amount of tax goes beyond the true figure. This claim is being made at a time when in the last two years the inflation rate has been fixed at 15 to 17 percent and at the same time the guilds and bazaaris, in accordance with their own tradition, have added 15 to 20 per cent each year to their prices. Therefore the government's tax demands are not only just but lower than the true level and the people who are refusing to pay taxes do not have the slightest excuse for doing so.
Here it must be said that the government can and according to the law has the right to ask the principal agents of this unacceptable activity whom we know have legendary wealth "where did you get it?" It has the right to complain to religious and believing bazaaris and ask them why they did not do anything against the plots of this small group of people. The greatest hope of the bazaaris is to establish religious councils, to visit holy shrines, to help the needy and to do this type of God-pleasing activity. What do they have to do with a handful of people who devour the assets of the people, have accumulated legendary fortunes out of the pockets of this oppressed nation and spend the summers lounging at the Hawaiian Islands and the winters on the Alpine slopes?
Taxes are the right of the people and the government does not have the right to be remiss taking action against people who threaten to close the bazaar through a handful of hired mercenaries and who blackmail and spread ambiguities. In the last few days the telephones at Kayhan have not stopped ringing and many religious and committed bazaaris, meaning almost all of them, have been complaining about the failure of officials to take action against the plot of a handful of prosperous capitalists who feel no pain, and especially in the present sensitive circumstances. Just consider the content of a few messages from the mass of messages that have been sent to the newspaper: "We, the youth of this land, are the children of 9 Dey and 22 Bahman. If the officials in charge have considerations for taking action against the plotters who have also been identified, they should inform us and the mass of believing and committed bazaaris. We, the committed and believing bazaaris, are together in all the ups and downs and we still adhere to this sacred tie for confronting the agents of the plot."
As translated by Mideastwire.com.