OPINION

Punishing the honest

The one-off tax imposed on individuals who declared over 60,000 euros in fiscal 2008 has been described as a poll or head tax. The tax, ranging in size from 1,000 to 5,000 euros, affects employees in the public and private sectors who have declared all of their income and thus find themselves at the top of the tax scale. These are the people who have not dodged paying their taxes, are not stashing funds, are not dealing in undeclared money and do not work illegally. They pay the highest taxes and make the biggest contributions; these are people who are the most productive, specialized and efficient. They are the people now being called upon, in these times of crisis, to bail out businesses and the state with their resourcefulness and experience. They are the heart and the brain of the national economy, and they are being punished, because this is how the government perceives the real economy and society. At the same time, the gray economy and blatant tax evasion are leaving their own mark on society: They are condemning it to a state of underdevelopment, they are depriving it of funds meant for education, healthcare, social services and infrastructure. But the duty, perhaps the only one, of any government is to ensure an equitable state by punishing those who steal and rewarding those who don’t. When the government has not succeeded in taxing those who are so blatantly, and in such luxury, shirking their responsibilities, when undeclared incomes are so vividly illustrated by the rising number of SUVs on the streets, by yachts, villas and offshore accounts, when celebrity doctors and lawyers declare less than a wage earner, then how dare it demand even more from those who already pay the most? The government appears oblivious to the need for serious thought on the fair redistribution of wealth in these times of crisis, as it punishes the honest, freezes the market and infuriates society, simply to amass 274 million euros, while billions of euros defiantly stick out their tongues out at the tax authorities.