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Shopkeepers in Kabul protest against tax hike

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Hundreds of shopkeepers in the capital city staged shutter down protest against the recent hike in income tax rate on Monday.

The protesters gathered in front of Ministry of Finance (MoF) and chanted slogans in favor of their demands. Recently, the MoF has decided to increase income tax rate. The decision has resulted in price hike.

The shopkeepers said the government is hell-bent on closing down the small businesses while increasing tax rate. They said that they were unable to pay taxes on the meager earnings as well as work permit fee.

Rahim Bakhtyar, a protestor, said that last year the government approved Taxes on Revenue Law which put heavy burden on small enterprises. “We are even unable to pay work permit fee every year to the Kabul Municipality. Increase in income tax will create numerous challenges for us,” he said.

Nader, a shopkeeper, said that the new law was nothing but a way to “plunder the owners of small businesses,” legally.

“We have announced shutter down strike to oppose the ministry’s decision. We cannot pay taxes that would bring our business to halt and affect our dealings. We are against all types of injustice,” he said while warning the government of indefinite strike for failure to take back its decision. He pointed out that on Monday as many as 12,000 shops were closed.

Protesters claimed that there was no transparent mechanism for collection of income tax and significant amount was embezzled.

The protest had created too many problems for residents of the capital city as people were running to different areas to find a shop open so they could buy food.

After approval of Taxes on Revenue Law, the tax collection process started on May, 2014 by the revenue department of MoF and Kabul Municipality.

Afghanistan Times has tried its best to reach the MoF officials for comments but failed as the ministry officials were not ready to respond.

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