Iran is losing between $12-20 billion a year through tax avoidance and evasion, head of the State Tax Organization Ali Askari says.
The loses are equivalent to 20% to 25% of the country’s gross domestic product revenue, he said in comments published in the daily T’aadol.
The official says the country has to curb the tide through identifying the loopholes which are used to the detriment of the economy.
He hoped Iran’s revenues would substantially rise “with the implementation of a comprehensive tax system”, the paper reported.
Askari says the government used to meet about 50% of its spending through the tax take but it has raised this to 60% in the budget for the new fiscal year which begins on March 21.
The official says Iran has sizeable capacities to boost its revenues through tax collection and reduce heavy reliance on the oil income.
“Oil, as an external variable, is an untrustworthy source of revenue since its prices are dependent on outside factors. Hence, we must not count on oil prices any longer,” Askari said.
Tycoons on radar
On Wednesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called on the Iranians to help state officials implement new measures for boosting production and trade tax revenues.
Ayatollah Khamenei said paying tax is a “religious obligation”.
“Some of the major owners of capital who are avoiding tax are committing a felony since they are making the country dependent on the oil money more than ever and create further problems,” the Leader said.
Askari says tax dodgers are “either involved in activities in the gray sector of economy or in the underground market which they do not divulge. Other are engaged in smuggling and the black market”.
With Europe’s biggest bank mired in a tax avoidance scandal, Iranian nationals have been cited among the list.
The Persian website Tabnak claims that as many as 573 Iranian nationals appear among tax dodgers at the British banking giant HSBC, with their assets put to the tune of $1.5 billion.