Has the MRA gone quite bonkers?

By Dr David C. WEST

I am writing this article primarily for the Mauritius Times, in the hope of a larger readership, but since it is based on an article printed in today’s Independent (2 June 2011), they may heed it as

well, even if there are comparatively few pure English speakers in this frog-speak country.

The article concerns the MRA’s intention to IMPOSE (?) electronic payment of income tax on a variety of individuals, who include lawyers, dentists, and private doctors, having an annual turnover exceeding Rs 500,000. This passes for a joke, since, over many years, I have never met any of the above people who earn less, and who are happy about accepting a cheque, but insist on getting real solid cash. No doubt they employ skilled advisers to minimize the amount they pay as tax, or, at least some years back, they had “friends” at the tax office? The list of people concerned also includes individuals with an annual gross income exceeding Rs 100,000, and a few other types are also mentioned. If this really is an imposition, i.e. obligatory, it is reminiscent of the ex-Soviet mentality… This method should be utterly rejected by anybody in the Mauritian population who so wishes – as I do, and have done this year.

In connection with those included who earn an annual gross income of Rs 100,000, I trust this is a misprint (instead of Rs 1,000,000,) for which the Independent is famous. My own pension is slightly over the former figure, and I am not taxable.

Does the MRA mean to include old people like my wife, who does not even know how to switch on my computer? Or does it mean that people without a computer at their house will either have to buy one, or queue up at some Post Office to use the computer there? And will there be a qualified person to assist those who are not in the slightest used to a computer? Or, will there be special and expensive to maintain offices, with PCs and assistants to assist the non-computer-literate? And, can these possibilities be legally enforced?

The whole thing stinks, and is reminiscent of the situation in the CWA in 1972, when I first came to live here, and when the non-paying water loss was much as at now.

Why cannot people here THINK, and, above all, why can’t they TAKE SENSIBLE ACTION? i.e. DO THINGS?

As a near-final comment, public communications from the MRA, i.e. in newspapers, have either been abysmally few, or unclear. Hence the comment on those professionals concerned (the Rs 500,000+ group, I take it), having until 30.06.11 to complete and send in their tax payment for the first quarter of 2011 is totally opaque. I hope those concerned will agree.

All this leads to reinforcement of my belief that all income tax, payable as cash, for individuals should be totally abolished, and replaced by some other system to recover the same sum. This would, at a stroke, abolish the problem of doctors and other professionals not paying sufficient tax, since the present “tax equivalent” would only be levied when money MOVES, i.e. when it is SPENT. The poor would have to have exemption certificates to cover certain items.

* Published in print edition on 3 June 2011

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