Why you should not pay income tax

I mean, if you’re Malaysian. I’m sure those of you living in other countries will have your own reasons to pay or not to pay.

Some years ago, when Inland Revenue first decided to implement its bizarre system of self-assessment, I refused to do a thing about it because a) I had overpaid through automatic schedular deductions at source in previous years and then, b) when this ran out, the Government could not justify spending more money hiring additional Inland Revenue staff to process tax assessment forms.The idea was to decrease Government administrative spending on tax collection, but the result was the opposite. Why should I do their work for them, and then pay them to do… what exactly?

I wrote them a letter explaining why I refused self-assessment; and someone has read it this year, maybe, because instead of the usual form package I received a nice little document having deducted my tax for me, with all the calculations done. They accidentally stuck part of the form to the envelope, by the way, which is not a very good thing to do if you want people to read it. All I am required to do is send a postal order to IRB by September. However, I am of course at a loss to account for how they arrived at my gross taxable income in the first place… but this doesn’t matter as it’s not a very large sum.

What matters is the principle of it. I now find the idea of contributing even 10 cents to Government mismanagement utterly repugnant.  Why? This is simple enough: the Government intends to halt spending on basic public amenities by classing things like food, education, public healthcare, and transport as non-necessities, and thereby exempting them from Government spending. It calls these things “subsidies”. Other Governments call them “responsibilities”.

It intends to implement a ruinous new tax regime in the fervent and misplaced belief that, since industrialised countries have a GST, we should too if we want to have “industrialised status”. Morons. And I maintain that the GST Bill, as it stands, is unconstitutional because the power to raise or alter taxes is a fundamental right of Parliament and requires separate Bills, not the fiat of the Finance Ministry.

I am also appalled by the ridiculous number of new departments within the Prime Minister’s own Department, and am informed by a source within Government that the budget of PM’s Dept now exceeds that of the Education Ministry. He has several “coordinating” instruments: don’t take my word for it. Count them yourself; and he has FIVE full ministers and and equal number of deputies working directly for him. These departments make decisions on a large range of issues, negating the role of Ministers and Ministries themselves. I mean, shit, when was the last time you heard from Rural Development? Or Youth and Sports? Or Public Works, for that matter? Babbling in Parliament does not count. When was the last time any of these idiots actually issued policies?

The Government also long ago hived off the statutory boards regulating utilities in an exercise that achieved nothing except the transfer of public assets into private hands—in this sense “privatisation” is quite an accurate term—and now under the vague provisions of the 10th Malaysia Plan it appears to be preparing to do more of the same.

On the expenditure side of the sheet, the Government has routinely exceeded its budget for public “mega-” projects by a factor of at least 150 per cent. These projects, on completion, it then dismisses as “under-utilised” thereby requiring FURTHER public expenditure to promote or re-purpose. It also cannot satisfactorily account for military jet engines that disappear mysteriously from high-security bases and reappear in Latin America, nor can it explain why things like laptops cost RM20,000 through Government procurement. The list goes on for ever; and every time the Auditor-General raises an alarm, the Government responds with an inquiry that promptly gets buried.

Of course we know exactly why all of this goes on. The question is, will you support the illegal and unconstitutional actions of a democratically-elected Government, or will you elect to protest, democratically, in whatever way you can without waiting for a general election?

To add insult to injury, the Government is determined to tell us that we are stupid. The Federal Territories Minister, for example, would have us believe that RM3,000 is a decent urban monthly household income if you cut down on “overheads” such as having a car. What does he expect us to do? Ride bullock-carts to work?

The same Minister and his colleague in Transport, as well as successive Prime Ministers have repeatedly FAILED to provide any semblance of an intergrated mass rapid transport model in urban Kuala Lumpur, let alone other cities. I say “model”. I am not optimistic enough to hope for a “system” that actually works. Dollah Badawi promised that money saved from fuel price increases a few years ago would be spent on public transport upgrades overseen by a committee chaired by himself. That was all we heard of it until some time last year (or was it this year?) when the committee finally met. And that was all we heard of it.

Best of all, however, is the Federal Territories Minister’s infantile attempt at double speak: having first said that RM3,000 is an acceptable income, he goes on to say that we need a high-income model “to enable the people to enjoy a good lifestyle.”

“To enjoy high income we need high productivity.”

Yes, of course we do. But the reverse is not also true. High productivity alone does not guarantee a high income (go ask the foreign workers if you don’t believe me). As long as real wages remain artificially depressed by exploitative employers (the real high-income earners), and as long as the Government refuses even to listen to Syed Shahrir’s argument for a minimum wage, all the Minister achieves with his idiotic statement is to say: “To have a high income you need to have a low wage”. That is not Orwellian double-speak. That is the gibberish of the village idiot.

And what is the Opposition doing about it? Bugger all. Why? It is too concerned about it’s own political standing that it confuses campaign rhetoric with policy initiatives. It is too concerned about the next general election to worry about the mandate it received for this Parliament. Does that sound familiar?

Saying “our hands are tied” or “it was done by the past Barisan Government” is NOT the reason you were elected, was it?

And all of you expect me to go out and vote in the next elections. For what? So you can insult me? Give me excuses for why you can’t do your bloody jobs?


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