By Roman Averianov
Last year, Belarusian salaries rose, as did tax payments into the budget. Experts expect the trend to continue, with the Ministry for Taxes and Duties explaining that, in 2010, citizens paid almost 3 percent more than in 2009. “We are gradually approaching the level of developed foreign states, where over half of all taxes are paid by citizens rather than enterprises,” notes candidate of economic sciences Vladimir Poplyko.
However, to reach a similar situation as that seen in the USA or Germany, Belarusians need to become property owners. As home owners (and share holders), foreign citizens pay extra taxes. The state currently owns most property and land in Belarus, so must gradually pass on some part of ownership to citizens. The process has begun, with restrictions on the circulation of shares lifted, privatisation expanded and conditions created to allow entrepreneurs to purchase buildings they currently rent from the state.
Mr. Poplyko believes the state must further simplify and ease taxation, encouraging citizens to declare all their earnings. By reducing taxation for landlords, more people will be encouraged to declare such earnings. The transition to a single 12 percent income tax rate has demonstrated the efficiency of this step: private individuals’ tax payments into the budget have risen almost 1.5-fold, while people no longer need to spend time collecting references and filling in declarations.
The Government warns that, in future, some part of the tax burden will shift from companies to individuals. If our income continues to grow, this seems quite reasonable. Moreover, we need to realise that our taxes are returned to us via free medicine, new schools and stadiums. The state provides for our social needs, with such spending rising by 40 percent this year (compared to 2010). Germany and Sweden are known for their high social standards, with citizens paying higher taxes (up to 55 percent in Sweden and slightly less in Germany). Naturally, they receive significant social support in return.