Why Citizens Pay Taxes

This article aims to give the reader how tax money is being collected and suppose to be used. A very simplistic explaination looks like this:

  1. If you are working, you pay what is normally called income tax. This applies to all legal

  2. All vendors, businesses, shops, canteens, companies pay tax or duty to the state or to the municipality they operate in.

  3. All compounds pay land tax. All taxes that are collected are called tax revenue, road tax as well.

The institution that ovesees all taxes in the country is called Gambia Revenue Authorities (GRA). The tax revenue is an accumulation of a huge amount of money on behalf of the state and various municipalities.

The tax revenues that are collected are supposed to finance these areas:

FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICES and many other services

Now the question becomes whether citizens get VALUE for their tax money when the police is undermanned, underpaid, underfunded and with little or no resources. Corruption therefore becomes inevitable.

The same speaks for our hospitals and health centers which are bereft with medicines and life saving modern medical equipment and supplies. The poor working conditions, meagre resources, poor hospital evironment and bad leadership force our medical personnel to leave for the private sector. Their spirit of giving back to the public that educated and trained them is replaced by frustration, hopelessness and anger.

Our roads are in very bad condition resulting to frequent fatal accidents. Aren’t we paying road taxes for authorities to provide us with new roads?

State schools are in need of attention that is not forthcoming. Hence our children drop out of school with very poor results. Teachers and schools are not well funded. Yet we keep sounding the bell that education is the key to success for any nation.

Our health system does not provide the basic treament that some countries take for granted.
This list of tax money not being properly utilized accordingly is long – it basically involves all sectors of our civil society. We pay our taxes according to the law, but how many of us care or even ask how our tax monies are being spent?

It is our human and constitutional right to demand that our tax monies go to where they are meant for. Our tax monies must not go into the pockets of corrupt officials. What do we Africans do? Praise sing and glorify our thieves. In some parts of the world tax money is “HOLY.” Hence misappropriation of tax money in these countries is equal to prison committing murder.

Our tax problems are fixable. All we need to do is to put in place proper system, elect and appoint selfess leadership and officials. There has to be functionable checks and balances in place. Above all, our leadership must have excellent character. We want corrupt-free leaders who serve as role model to generations yet unborn. What choice do citizens of a nation whose leader openly manifest corruption have? Corruption becomes official. Then you have a failed state that breeds rotten system. A system that ultimately leads the creation of “BANANA REPUBLIC.”

As people with powers of oversight responsibility, National Assembly Members have the capacity to police the Executive, questioning how tax monies are spent.

By reading this piece, I think you have a sense of understanding why you, me and many others pay taxes to the state. It is a collective contribution for the betterness of ALL in a society or country. For that obvious reason, some are willing to pay even more tax if they can be assured there is value for the tax money. Let us remember that Taxation justifies Representation.

Alhagi Touray


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