It has recently caught my attention, 2 consecutive letters to the press to which the government has scan answered I believe.
The first is by Mr Chin Kee Thou 'Double tax for water use not fair' (My paper,05Sept2011) in which he pertinently states: "The water-conservation tax is levied as a deterrent or penalty against excessive use and wastage of water, and is similar to a fine for traffic offences.
The conservation tax and traffic fine are neither goods nor services, and the latter is not subject to GST.
Why does one have to pay a double tax - the conservation tax and GST on it - just to get water from a tap?"
As well as the letter by Mr Tony Loke Yue Chong 'Is tax on tax equitable?'[TODAY, 10July2013]" The Water Conservation Tax is charged for the use of water. It is levied to reinforce the importance of conserving water..... the Goods and Services Tax is imposed ... effectively a tax on tax."
The 2 authors are both right to point out firstly- that inasmuch as water is a basic necessity no human can live without, the conservation of such a resource is also something no Singaporean can afford to forget about- indeed the survivability of every society is premised upon the availability of fresh water; and secondly, that seldom is anyone eager to pay tax, and certainly not a multi-layered tax.
In Tax - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :"According to Black's Law Dictionary, a tax is a 'pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government [...] a payment exacted by legislative authority'. "
Implicit in this definition is the understanding that the quality(morality) of government equates the quality (morality) of life and development in society.
As old as the hills, have issues of 'pecuniary burden' caused much strife and friction between governments and their charge.
So whilst there is scant doubt that a multi-layered pecuniary burden has indeed been imposed, so too must the necessity/ desirability (of such taxes) be determined (see tobacco duty/taxes for tax similarity).
So may I thus humbly suggest that henceforth from now that, 'Water Conservation Tax' be renamed 'Water Conservation Duty(National Survival)' so that besides being "technically legal" [TODAY, 10July2013] all who reside in Singapore will understand and smile, and rise with gusto to pay their 'Water Conservation Duty(National Survival)'- knowing that clean water is secure because society respects its value.
That 'Water Conservation Duty(National Survival)' is charged even before GST because it is a necessary, reasonable mandate by the government (like national service)- so essential for the nation's survival, that one cannot possibly opt out of paying- so that come what may, even without PAP enforced 'meritocracy', without GST, a plummeting GDP or whatever else PM 'Midas' Lee pronounces "special", clean water will always be plentiful. Because all Singaporeans respect the value of water well, they grew up paying 'Water Conservation Duty(National Survival)', even when all government explanation (defense for it) (AFAIK) failed.
PS: Whilst the value of 'Water Conservation Duty(National Survival)' could be GST zero rated (such as the value of investment precious metal), such would be mere mathematical acrobatics. (the effective first tier rate in the $515.80 bill annexed is 30% X 1.07 = 32.1% post GST; the same tax rate would be arrived if WCD(NS) was 32.1% and GST zero rated).
Wherever morality was built on sound foundation, society never failed.
Hope that U could smile reading this.
Feedback most welcome, tks.