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New law not set in stone

Sep 12,2018 - Last updated at Sep 12,2018

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz unveiled, at last, bits and pieces of the new draft income tax law at a meeting with chief editors of daily newspapers on Tuesday. 

The much-awaited new income tax legislation, Razzaz said, "was developed without any dictation from any entity and will help achieve the desired fiscal reforms which, in turn, will contribute to lowering borrowing costs for the country”.

With these reassuring words, Razzaz expressed hope that the country will accept and endorse the new draft law after publishing it on the Legislation and Opinion Bureau's website for the duration of ten days, after which it will be sent to the Lower House of Parliament for consideration and hopefully adoption.

Obviously, any tax law, no matter how fair, would remain unpopular. Tax payers can, nevertheless, be expected to be fair-minded and comprehend the economic and fiscal reasons behind the new tax legislation. Suffice it to say that when adopted, the new income tax law is expected to generate JD280 million in additional revenues for the country, JD180 million of which would be generated by expanding tax payers' base and combating tax evasion. The prime minister admitted that "it is not easy to sell the law to the public in light of the current difficult economic conditions". He stressed, however, that the new law targets most of all the "well-to-do companies and individuals" and not the poor or the middle class.

Clearly, there is no perfect tax law no matter how much the government tries to make it one. The government of Prime Minister Razzaz can be credited for trying its best to be fair-minded when drafting the new draft law. No one likes to pay any amount of tax anyway, no matter how equitable it may appear. Yet, we all have to pay taxes because that is the only way the government can meet its obligations to citizens and defend its national and international interests.

Besides, the new law is not set in stone. It can always be amended as faults or omissions can be identified when the law is put to the test, in the next few years if not months. Let us give the new legislation the benefit of the doubt and have a close look at it when published for public comment.

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