Keep expectations low

Re: "Dire need for elected Senate", (Opinion, Dec 6).

It would be contrary to reason to expect dictators or their laws, which are made to benefit the dictatorship, to respect values such as transparency, openness and respect for the nation's people. It would also be contrary to expect them to allow the people a voice to determine the form of their government and society.

You might as well expect the basic right of free speech, which poses a dire threat to traditional corruption by allowing a well-informed understanding of national affairs and leaves devoutly promoted falsehoods open to correction, to be respected.

Felix Qui

Responsible tax law

Re: "New tax law prompts suspicions of snooping", (BP, Dec 5).

It is refreshing to read a draft law, especially on taxation, that is simple and clear albeit far-reaching in covering tax loopholes. Against the law to protect the privacy of banks' customers, banks and similar financial institutions are required under the proposal to report to the Revenue Department names of those who have more than 3,000 transactions per year or 400 transactions with an average sum of 2 million baht per year. What is the catch?

The main aim is to catch all digital transactions that threaten traditional retail trade. Those transactions via e-commerce are difficult to trace for auditing tax obligations. The thresholds of having an average 250 bank transactions per month or 21 per day are unlikely to apply to most people unless they are tax-evading traders or other illegal operators.

The same can be said for the case of 20 items per month with an average sum of 2 million baht per item. The added beauty of this proposal is that it will catch those grey businesses, such as those who heavily transact in cash and participate in other illegal activities of a money-laundering nature.

Therefore, the criticisms from a few members of the National Legislative Assembly reported in your press are simply far-fetched and do not hold water. One criticism that could have been highlighted is that the move could violate the law preventing the disclosure of customers' names. Hence, this proposed law requires parliament to approve an override of that long-held rule.

A defence of the law is that it may create more fairness in imposing tax obligations, thereby reducing the number of citizens dodging their civic duty to pay fair taxes. However, in having this proposed law enacted, some could feel averse to having business transacted via banks and divert their funds into alternative currencies like bitcoins.

The Finance Ministry and the Revenue Department should be praised for adjusting their thinking to cope with the digital world instead of sticking to the still water of the past. In doing so, Thailand's tax net would be widened and society would become fairer just because of one factor alone -- the fear of names being disclosed and exposed to tax examination. No responsible citizen could argue against that.

Songdej Praditsmanont

Refund pushes debt

Perhaps someone can explain to me where the average middle-class Thai will see the benefit of spending 20,000 baht to gain 1,000 baht, as a value-added tax refund will be applied only if the money is spent using a debit card connected to a savings account. To start with, where will the 20,000 baht come from?

I would suggest that the money may come from a credit card. If this is the case, has the interest on the 20,000-baht loan been taken into account? The fact that the government has stipulated the rule that only a debit card can be used for any transactions leads me to believe that it doesn't want to be seen encouraging people to take on more credit card debt, but a simple transfer from a credit card to a savings account will easily overcome the debit card rule.

Relying on people to spend to stimulate the economy and at the same time put themselves in more debt is not the long-term answer to a growing problem.

Brian Corrigan

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