Tax culture

19 June 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Paying tax is not something that people like to do, generally. The State is usually seen as an anonymous agency that is out for your money only to spend it on things that you don’t want to contribute to. Paying tax, collecting tax, and enforcing tax laws interestingly differs per legal culture. Last weekend newspaper De Volkskrant had two large stories on tax culture. One on Greece, in which the main message was that ‘the Greek perceive it as a dishonour to follow the rules’ (citation of a prof), and that it is always a good thing to cheat on the state.

The other story was on the Netherlands. The tendency of tax law enforcement, partly due to budget cuts, is to ‘trust the companies’ in the figures they provide. In recent years the assignment from politics and from people up in the ministerial hierarchy is that ‘vertical’ controls and checks on companies should be reduced to the minimum, and that ‘horizontal’ controls should be encouraged. Insiders who are frustrated by the tax evasions they witness right under their nose, ring the bell because the state is wrong to ‘trust’ the companies. Simple legal-economical calculations of course would have predicted long ago that a lower level of law enforcement leads to an increase in the evasion of rules. This is something the Dutch state does not seem to realize.

About Wibo van Rossum

assistent professor at legal theory Utrecht University School of Law

Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Categories