An advocacy campaign aimed at enhancing citizen engagement in taxation
Taxes for a better future
August 16, 2022
The Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) in collaboration with UNDP Bhutan launched a tax advocacy campaign that seeks to enhance citizens’ engagement in taxation through an improved public awareness on the importance of tax revenue in nation building.
The tax advocacy campaign is a part of the ongoing ‘tax for nation building’ partnership between DRC and UNDP. The campaign is two-phased with the first phase being rolled out over the next one month and the second phase in the lead up to the next tax filing period.
At the campaign launch, two tax advocacy videos were launched. The first video on the theme ‘Taxes Matter: Bhutan’s development is your success’ was launched by the Finance Secretary Kesang Deki. The second video is about fiscal incentives and was launched by UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative Azusa Kubota. A live Question and Answer session on the theme ‘Taxes Matter’ was also held.
The overall goal is to bring about a shift in the way citizens view taxes, to see taxes as a civic and fundamental responsibility, not a burden through dialogues, advocacy, taxpayer education, transparency, and information dissemination. It is only when citizens understand taxes better that a sustainable taxpaying culture can be built and nurtured.
The campaign is also intended to draw attention to the untapped potential of taxes in boosting domestic resource mobilization in Bhutan at a time when the country is navigating a shrinking fiscal space.
In Fiscal Year 2021-2022, Bhutan collected Nu. 25843.052 million ( provisional net revenue) in taxes accounting for 66.19 percent of the national revenue. Tax revenue goes into building roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals, making significant contribution towards the country’s socio-economic growth and development. Taxes also fund pensions and social security. In recent times, it has enabled birth and growth of businesses. Without tax revenue, sustaining crucial public goods, services and systems would be a daunting challenge. The Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) is seeking to drive home this message through its tax advocacy campaign.
The Officiating Director General of DRC said, “The Department is dedicated and committed to working towards fulfilling the vision of our beloved King. And for that, DRC needs an advocacy programme that brings us together in one platform with a common understanding, to work towards a tax system that advocates for an economic development that also promotes happiness and wellbeing of all Bhutanese. Taxes are the lifeblood of the government, and every citizen should pay their due taxes responsibly.”
The tax advocacy program is expected to improve citizen-state Relations through ‘fiscal contracts’ wherein citizens pay taxes improving government revenue and, in turn, receive improved public services and enhanced transparency and accountability around the use of tax resources. The campaign will help enhance tax compliance and clarify the links between tax and expenditure.
“Tax revenue is also critical for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and this tax advocacy is happening during the last Decade of Action on SDGs,” said Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP Bhutan.
“The global SDG financing need has increased by 70% from $2.5 to $4.2 trillion. The tax to SDG rates in developing countries is far below the financing needs. The developing countries collect between 10% to 20% of GDP, whereas the average in high-income countries is double this, at 40% and 35% in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. Therefore, countries must tap into the large untapped potential of taxation to boost domestic resource mobilization.”