Of late, the Inland Revenue Department started sending Tax Declarations to public officers, in general, and to the others, at random. Declarations were called for from public officers who imported cars on duty concessions. It is an open secret that most of the public servants imported their cars through loans raised by various means. Some public officers have received Tax Declaration forms three times within six months. Is it right to harass other public servants, while officers of the Inland Revenue Department are public servants themselves. Times have changed. They send tax forms as if all public officers are wealthy. Not really.
Taxes must be collected fairly and reasonably. Take for instance a public officer whose wife is not employed and with three children, who earns Rs.55,000 per month. His monthly bills amount to: Electricity - Rs. 4,500, Gas & water - Rs. 4000, School fees for three children - Rs. 10,000, School Van fee - Rs. 7500, Loan deductions - Rs. 18,000, Food – Rs. 40,000,Other expenses - Rs. 10,000.
If someone falls sick, another amount should be spent as the NITF pays medical bills only when admitted to a hospital. However, average expenses for a month come to about Rs. 100,000/- This is without any other incidental expenses. Cost of living is almost equal to that of a developed country. An employee suffers much when it comes to emergencies and social obligations. These are not secrets. Those who have other means (including underhand transactions), of course, could survive. The employee who earns the above salary may have fixed deposits or savings in the banks. Let us say that he has Rupees One million spread in several banks. The interest earned is around Rs. 160,000 per annum. That means another Rs.11,500/- a month. Even then that is not enough to meet his family needs.
If the employee is a diabetic or heart patient then he will be reduced to a beggar. If his wife is an invalid, he then becomes a pauper. The banks deduct Withholding Tax on the interest earned. Employees do not protest in view of so-called "war effort". Are politicians and the officers of the Inland Revenue Department not aware of such realities? Politicos and those working in the Inland Revenue are safe and well off. We pay taxes to local authorities, too. Taxes, taxes everywhere!
Why not catch the tax dodgers? The Bribery Commission Act should be amended to enable it to probe into the assets of officers in the public service on its own without waiting for a complaint to be made. People know how the Inland Revenue collects taxes from wealthy people. Sri Lanka has become a unique country where even a beggar is taxed by way of taxes on flood and other items. The Inland Revenue is after the less powerful and poorer employees. Sharks escape whilst sprats are netted. Is this not a crime? In Sri Lanka, the tax system is not consistent and simplified as in other countries. Even though the so-called graduates hold high posts, they act like ‘general clerks’. Very pathetic! Because of their blunders, innocent people suffer. Will the President look into this please. Public servants could be taxed the same way as private sector employees (PAYE). One circular is all that is needed.