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These last couple of weeks have been very predictive for me. After waking up I sat down in front of my computer with a big cup of coffee and checked the daily news: It was all about taxes, old and new ones, the ones that needed to be introduced and the ones that just needed to be increased. Increase of VAT, “crises tax”, sugar tax, new tax on lottery tickets, real estate tax and so on and on. I started to think what other taxes can there possibly exist?

After a few mouse clicks, history was again my teacher. In old Egypt the pharaohs taxed the use of cooking oil. And when first controllers came to check whether families were using the same cooking oil more than once (what was prohibited), the tax inspection was born. The old Greeks were collecting the so called “war taxes”, which, if left, ought to be returned to those paying them after the wars ended (they never did). In the times of the Romans, Julius Cesar introduced the first sales tax and Cesar Augustus the first inheritance tax; they both wanted to collect taxes for pension security of soldiers.

The later history saw also other states, especially European ones, to become very innovative as to what could be taxed. In the 18th and 19th century England and France taxed the number of windows in the house which deeply influenced the architecture of those times. The Netherlands was quite unique in taxing the width of houses overlooking the canals and some of the world’s narrowest houses can still be seen in Amsterdam. History has also seen the taxation of playing cards, men’s hats and even a tax on cowardice; those who didn’t want to fight for the English king had to pay an extra tax. Does it still cross your mind that our Minister of Finance is innovative?

I firmly believe that better than increase taxes and introduce new ones in these times of crises, is to collect more of the existent ones. According to one report of the EU Commission from December 2012, Slovenia has more than 24% of its total GDP in the so called shadow economy. And we are in front of countries like Slovakia, Poland and the Check Republic on this infamous list and well above the average of the EU (being around 19%). So the right question is, what can be done to decrease this percentage and consequently increase revenues from the taxes already present in our legislation: VAT, personal and corporate income tax. Should we increase penalties and the probability of tax inspections? Introduce new administrative obstacles, like tax cash register (directly connected to the Tax Authorities)? Or just simply start to teach our youngsters that paying taxes is like fasting your seat belt in a car, if you don’t do it, it is very likely that you will have to face some consequences.

I believe we all understand that this country needs to collect revenues to be able to function. We might disagree on the influence the increase of taxation (and introduction of new ones) will have on the economic growth (most of the economists agree that the effects are always negative). However, we have to understand and be certain of one thing: If we are all going to pay taxes, we can all pay less of them.