Nepali Times
Under My Hat
The taxman cometh


As conscientious Nepali tax payers, it is deeply satisfying for many of us to see that the government is putting our hard-earned taxes to good use by coming up with creative new ideas for new taxes. In this way, some of us who still have some disposable income will not just be sitting unproductively on our non-performing assets, but will get off our butts.

Still, this is not the time to hem and haw, or for ifs and buts. It is the time for every Nepali of taxable age to ask himself and herself some wrenching questions: is the government doing enough? Is it leaving any stones un-overturned to enlarge the tax bracket and widen the tax net? My personal feeling (and this is entirely my opinion and does not in any way reflect the opinions, if any, of my present employers, or of the various organisms that I have worked for in the past, and may work for in the future) is that it is not. The government is not doing enough. It is being complacent. It is hesitating to go boldly forth where no government has gone before to come up with new things to tax. At this rate, will it ever meet the Tenth Plan targets for profligacy, waste and revenue leakage?

In the interest of transparency, it is my civic duty at the present juncture to bring to the attention of my esteemed readers that there may be a slight conflict of interest in going any further with this column since the Ministry of Finance, Pvt (Ltd) has just hired this scribe (hitherto known as "yours truly", and hereinafter referred to as "me") as a consultant to advise the government on a more futuristic tax policy. But in the national interest it is my duty to privately leak to you the salient points of my suggested recommendations to
the MoF:

1. Torture. The government has stopped short of using this time-tested revenue-raising method on tax dodgers. This technique, which involves actual physical contact at the sub-cuticular level, between the taxman and the payee has guaranteed efficacy. It is currently being used with excellent results by certain underground parties which shall remain nameless till the state of national emergency is lifted.
2. Graft Tax. The Ministry of Finance should immediately set up a Department of Kickbacks where the 10 percent VAT, 2 percent Service Charge and 4 percent National Security Surcharge will be levied on every kickback and bribe given or received within the kingdom.
3.Capital Flight Levy. All monies apprehended at the capital's airport awaiting boarding will be slapped a 50 percent tariff before departure. Outbound flights will be affected, but what the heck, they already are.
4. Adulteration Tax. All fuel adulterers throughout the kingdom will have to mandatorily add 5 percent more kerosene to the diesel they sell at gas stations over beyond the present 50 percent adulteration they carry out, and hand over the take to the Nepal Oil Corruption. Revenue thus generated will be used as a Hedge Fund to bail out petrol stations in case adulteration is banned in future.
5. Sunshine Tax. It has come to the notice of the Tax Department that wage earners have been sun bathing on the terrace for free. A solar tax has therefore been slapped at a flat rate of Rs 100 per head per hour of sunshine. A Lunar Tax will also be announced soon to tax the income of moonlighters.
The above five bright ideas will put the government in a comfortable position to meet any exigencies by mobilising internal resources, and reduce our dependence on donor support.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)