The government complains of clear lack of understanding about the philosophy of taxation and does not wish to prejudice the disbursement of wealth to support food, construction and other issues. Taxation has always been looked upon as rationalization and has an important moral and developmental aspect.
There is no country in the world that does not impose taxes, even the richest countries of the world for a simple reason these nations do not want their citizens to feel that they lack social, moral and national responsibility, especially in countries where income depends on natural resources such as oil or natural gas. This cannot continue for long enough if these countries want not only to continue to provide the necessary services but also to exist if it ‘refuses’ for one reason or another to collect taxes.
Taxes are necessary to pay the salaries of civil servants and military personnel and electricity services and the construction of roads, drainage, education, health and hygiene and external relations, etc, etc that cannot be met without collecting taxes.
As for spending on all these things from the sale of oil is not prudent and it is not done by countries whose governments respect their peoples. These peoples are doomed to become infected with the Dutch disease. Norway, for example, is saving all that comes from the sale of oil to ensure the future of coming generations, and oil revenues are not included in its budget.
The job of collecting taxes and redistributing them to different sectors falls within the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, after determining the budget of each party, saving the surplus or covering the shortfall in some way.
The laws state that the tax is an amount paid by those who meet the terms of payment. The company paying the tax, for example, cannot ask the government to build a bus station for its employees, and voices of taxpayers are higher than those with no taxes in accounting their governments and questioning on how the collected taxes were spent.
Some believe that in Kuwait we pay taxes, albeit indirectly, and this is true, but it is backward practice and does not perform its social and moral function. Taxation is a function other than spending on goods and services. It consists of the ability of the state to achieve economic, social and moral goals through its use in rationalizing social behavior towards achieving the public interest, paying attention to the environment, reducing waste and controlling the economic balance in times of crises, and others such as re-distribution of income, achieving social justice, increase or decrease of birth rate, increase the consumption of an item or limit other material and so on. The high customs tax imposed on cigarettes, for example, has a clear health, moral and material purpose.
The obligation to pay the tax shows the level of awareness and morality in any society. It is not strange, therefore, that the Scandinavians, for example, are the most tax-paying and at the same time the happiest among the peoples of the world contrary to the peoples of the backward countries, mostly Arab and Muslim countries which appear more committed to religion but in fact they are less committed to laws and duties, and more miserable and backward.
The subject of taxation is very big, and the conclusion is that we, as a people and a government, need a modern tax system that takes into account our economic and social conditions. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Appropriate tax systems are available and all we have to do is to choose one.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf