The Tax Man and his Aladdin’s Lamp / Gladys Linares
Posted on March 1, 2014
HAVANA, Cuba. — In 2010, Elvira was dismissed from her workplace. She
had no option other than to get a license and open a snack-bar in her
home in order to support her mother and son. She started selling coffee,
soft drinks and sandwiches. She remarks that working for herself was
more convenient, and she believed that she owed nothing to anyone
because every month she duly paid her taxes.
Nevertheless, when she heard talk for the first time about the sworn
statement about personal income as part of the “perfection” of the Cuban
economic model, she never imagined what would happen to her: one fine
day, they notified her that she owed nine thousand pesos national
currency in debt to the tax authorities, and 500 in fines for fraud in
her sworn statement, a total of 380 CUC [around $400 USD, close to two
year’s average income in Cuba], hard currency and unattainable.
On inquiring at the Office of National Tax Administration (ONAT), the
responses she received left her bewildered. According to the official,
in order to monitor the sworn statement, they consider the work hours,
quantity of products sold and their prices, as well as the place where
the snack-bar is located.
Elvira asked how they could know all that, and the worker replied that
the evaluation might be direct or indirect. ”You may know that we
observe you, but equally we have the option of evaluating you without
your knowing.” And she added that if she did not agree, she could
complain. Elvira, getting to her feet, told her: “I see now that you
all get information from Aladdin’s Lamp.” Today she is thinking of
turning in her license and working under the table, but first she must
devise a way to pay the debt.
A carrier who did not want to reveal his name said that he turned in his
license more than three months ago because “the streets are in a very
bad state, and I barely earned enough to buy tires and fix the car.” In
spite of that, a short while ago they notified him of a tax debt of 30
thousand pesos national currency, some 1,200 CUC.
One of the topics that lately has caused a commotion among the people is
the great quantity of money the self-employed have to pay by way of
taxes and fines.
Julio, an honest and enterprising neighbor, closed his private
restaurant and turned in his license some time ago. He says that when
the matter of the sworn statement about personal income began at the end
of the year, he did not understand why, if all those months he paid 10%
of his income, he had to pay again at year’s end.
“Marino Murillo said,” complains Julio, “that the payment to the tax
system is to diminish the inequalities among the citizens. And I say
what must be done for that is to take away privileges from the leaders,
officials and their families, who are the ones who live well in this
country, at the expense of Cubans.”
Cubanet, February 27, 2014, Gladys Linares
Translated by mlk.
Source: The Tax Man and his Aladdin’s Lamp / Gladys Linares |
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