They Tax Me, They Tax Me Not
It is nearing the end of the financial year. And those of you who do not make a living smuggling coke knows what that means. Tax forms. The annual tradition of bidding bye-bye to your hard earned cash. Some people think it is an unsystematic biased ad-hoc method of government sponsored mugging. Those people do not realize that it is actually a very systematic process.
To get clear understanding of the importance, necessity, and beauty of taxation and the benefits spun thereof, you would need to understand the history of this age old process. It is with a sense of duty and pride that I embark on this short discourse.
For countless centuries, governance was done almost exclusively through looting and plundering. If City A found itself short of funds or required territorial expansion, it would wage war on City B. The emperor and soldiers of City A would take money in the form of gold, diamonds, etc… from City B and celebrate their victory by drinking, dancing, and watching people kill each other for amusement, because, frankly, they did not get enough of it during the war. The drinking and dancing would continue till all the money gets over and the bartender throws them out of the tavern. They would then wait till they get sober again before proceeding to City C.
It was a tiring and monotonous process, and many of the waging armies tended to get lost along the way, forcing them to build new cities and losing touch with their past. Let it suffice to say that there were drawbacks to this method of governance. But there was no easy alternative; at least not until the stunning breakthrough in the 12th century B.C. when the Chinese emperor Pei Mo-Tahks discovered, quite by accident, that merely by sending large, armed soldiers directly to people’s homes, he could extract large quantities of money, in return for providing them with protection in the form of not having the large, armed soldiers chopping their heads off. This was an early form of taxation. This was further perfected by the Roman emperor Tax’em Notus, who discovered that he could save money by having the people come to him instead of the other way round.
Through the years, the system has evolved. People saw the emergence of different kinds of taxes, like Road Tax, Property Tax, Import Tax, Bankruptcy Tax, etc… The system has become more civilized. We see that the tax agents are no longer musclebound goons with swords against your throat. On the contrary, the modern IRS agent couldn’t lift a sword without spraining his third vertebrae. No, siree… They prefer other methods.
Today’s taxman believes in the old adage that “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Today, they realize that they can dissuade the average citizen from claiming deductions by hiding these provisions in complex sentences like “Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) in relation to any profits and gains derived by an assessee on or after the 1st day of April, 1970 there shall, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this section, be allowed complete exemption from tax in any form whatsoever.”
From a landmark research study conducted in 1973, it was shown that less than 2% of the people were able to stay awake through the entire article. This meant fewer people claimed deductions, resulting in much larger taxes.
Since we have a much larger population paying taxes these days as opposed to Pei Mo’s time, one could ask where all the money is going to… The government can’t spend ALL of it on getting the ministers and key decision makers drunk, can they? Granted, they had to be pretty drunk to increase reservations in colleges and major educational institutions, but all that booze only accounts for a very small part of your tax money. The bulk of it is used to make YOUR life better.
Don’t look here and there; I’m talking about YOU… Yeah, you. That’s right. And you thought nobody cared, huh? Well, that’s not true. Majority of the money gathered from taxes go to help you… directly in some ways, indirectly in others…
So where DOES your tax money go? To Europe, America, Beijing, Hawaii, the World Bank, and the Cayman Islands… assuming that the politicians traveling to these places on YOUR behalf take some of your tax money with them. These kind of expenses are going to help you indirectly. Your elected officials would ensure that you are represented in all important activities; including Trade Negotiations, Territory Disputes, Finance Discussions, and the Lambada, all of which they would execute diligently with ONLY YOU in mind.
Then there are matters where you are directly benefited. The Government of Karnataka, for example, spent somewhere between 12 and 60 crores of your Tax money on renaming all the street boards, maps, travel schedules, etc, from “Bangalore” to “Bengalooru” so that YOU could be benefited. It was important for YOU to remember the city’s innate association with boiled beans. “Bengaluru” is derived from “Benda-Kalu-Uru” which means “The city of boiled beans”, and that, you would agree, represents the true image of India’s Technology Center.
This year the city would further strengthen this association by making boiled beans a mandatory part your breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. You might be wondering whether the proponents of this change has boiled beans (benda-kalu) for brains, but I assure you this would also be a carefully planned amendment.
You see, there would be taxes on the beans as well.