Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Pajak’, a column by I Wayan Januartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 21 March 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada
Two members of drinking club are debating. They are I Made Pait Makilit (I Made ‘Very Stingy’) and I Putu NPWP (I Putu ‘You Pay Tax You Get Rewards’).
“I can’t understand why we have to pay income tax? Why do the government take percentage of my income?” asks Made.
“I do the job myself. No one help me, nor the president. So why do they have to take some from me?”
Everyone gives applause to Made. It should be noted applause doesn’t always mean respect in reality. It is the same like when you give an applause to speech, or when you just stand watching a victim of an accident without trying to help, or when you make a joke when you see a ugly person, or when you enjoy seeing a fight, or when you ask for a donation to a candidate or official.
Made is getting more excited. He orders two jerry cans of palm toddy for his friends. He wants them keep supporting him. It’s like money politics.
“What about when you go to your office, drive passing a good road, or pass by a huge bridge, free medical treatment, school for your kids, public health centre. How do you think our government cover the cost? The money comes from the tax though,” comments Ketut.
Ketut works in tax department office. That’s probably why he talks about how important to pay tax.
“You have 5 cars but you are not willing to pay tax for road maintenance,” comments Putu about Made.
But this time nobody gives applause. They still wait for Putu’s commitment if he will treat them palm toddy. He himself just drinks plain tea.
“Pay motor bike and car taxes for road maintenance is something that I still can accept.”
But there is something I can’t accept, that is paying land tax. Why should I? Since when the government cares for my land,” asks Made.
Everyone thinks that Putu will have a problem in answering Made’s questions.
“Well, it has been indicated in our Constitution that land, water, and other natural resources belong to the state. It means you are only a ‘lessee’, and you have to pay your ‘land lease’.”
Everyone laughs as if they make joke to themselves and realize that they ‘have nothing’ being a citizen. They note that when the island was ruled by kings, they had to give something (upeti) to the kings, and when the country is ruled by a president, it is still the same. Different rulers, but still the same game.
I have no comment if it’s all about Constitution. But I still have another question. You work in tax office. You get paid. And your task is to collect taxes in which your salary is paid using the money from the taxes you collect, right? But why do you then get ‘fee’ from collecting taxes. Doesn’t it mean you get double salaries?
Ketut can’t say anything. Suddenly he takes some money out from his pocket to treat his friends some palm toddy. He thinks that by buying palm toddy, they will be quiet. They will forget their problems. Ketut gets drunks as the others. When everyone gets drunk, they will not ask tricky questions.