News about a ten percent increase in value added taxes (VAT) in Bahrain, has been received by the public with a range of negative and positive reactions. While many are concerned about standards of living and the effect of taxes on their daily lives, others see it as something which was expected and part of their responsibility as citizens towards their nation. Here’s a look at what a range of Bahrainis think of the proposed tax increases:

“Nobody likes taxes, but it’s a fact of life”

“It was predictable that the government would raise taxes. When taxation first started in Bahrain a couple of years ago, there was talk about the possibility of increasing taxes once every few years. Nobody likes taxes, but it’s a fact of life.” Khalid 32

“People seem too surprised about the issue of increased taxes. It is the new norm; we have to accept the idea of paying taxes and not being too dependent on the government for everything… The government has already cut spending several times, so it was obvious that taxes would also have to rise for the budget to balance. Better this than getting into unaffordable debt”. Maryam 38

“It is being said that the government will increase taxes to 10% in order to avoid a deduction of salaries. This is quite disappointing, considering that the salaries of Bahrainis are low and that citizens already struggle with inflation” Sarah 35

“The culture of taxation is new to us”

“Many of us can afford paying the 10% VAT and will look at this issue pragmatically. However, the government needs to understand that many other Bahraini families cannot afford this increase in taxes and what’s minimal to one segment of the society is quite a lot for another. A lot of families already struggle from one month to the next” Abdullah 38

“Progressive democracies tend to increase taxes. We are not at par with these democracies and the culture of taxation is new to us. Perhaps this is a sign that Bahrain has become one of the advanced nations! … However, the government should consider other options that are more suitable for the social, political and economic dynamics of the country” Manal 27

“The government has taken a lot of financial load due to the pandemic. Let’s not forget that Bahrain’s workforce was literally asked to stay home and was paid salaries in full for almost 18 months since the start of the pandemic. Nobody likes it, but we have to pay for this somehow.” Ahmed 40

“We are provided with free housing, healthcare and education”

“We are provided with free housing, healthcare and education. It is justifiable to pay minimum taxes when you’re provided with basic services for free. Many choose not to benefit from these services and that is definitely a matter of personal preference and not the government’s problem, hence one cannot say that I do not benefit from free services, so why should I pay taxes?” Fatima 37

“A proper system of taxation should be put in place. It doesn’t seem like we have a proper system and a level of transparency by the government that shows where the taxpayers money will go” Ali 34

“The new taxes are only minimal in comparison to other countries. It’s a proposed 10 increase in VAT. Many products are exempt from the tax increase. We have to be realistic and become responsible citizens rather than just complain.” Salman 30

Other projects that can be cancelled

“Perhaps the government should cut down its expenditure on several things that are deemed unnecessary rather than increase taxes. I am certain that there are several other projects or events that can be put on hold or cancelled if the government has limited budget and expenditure issues” Hassan 42

“The main problem with taxation is that if a government decides to incorporate it within the system, then it needs to incorporate many other aspects of democratic life. Bahrain is still considered a low-ranking nation in terms of democratic practices” Aisha 35

“We need to build awareness about the necessity for taxation and what the government debt and economic challenges are. It is always a problem of communications in Bahrain. If citizens are well aware of the impact of such taxes on the economy and their future, then they wouldn’t complain” Hamad 30

“If you study basic political theory, taxes and representative government go together. Leaders must listen to the public, because the state budget and public sector wages come from the people. If you think of it this way, taxes are a good thing because it is a sign that Bahrain is moving towards being more democratic and its government must become more accountable to the nation.” Noora 36

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