TCU targeting wrong people - 27/10/2004

Letter in Maltatoday by Dr Stephen Fava

Link to letter

Link to article referred to in letter

I refer to your article entitled ‘TCU invites 373 doctors to discuss tax declarations’ published in MaltaToday on Sunday 16 October. In line with the high levels of journalistic ethics that your newspaper might notoriously aspire to, I would like you to correct the following incorrect facts, and statements which were stated or otherwise attributed to MAM General Secretary, Dr Martin Balzan.

First of all Dr Joe Cassar is a Nationalist Party MP, and not a Labour Party MP. You might recall that, unfortunately, equally respected labour MP, Dr Joe Cassar has passed away a few years ago.

The statement quoted in inverted commas and attributed to Dr Balzan, which was clarified at least 3 times, apparently to no avail to Mr Vella, requires the following correction. “The Tax Compliance Unit has called on a large number of doctors who do not even practise privately, and who have nothing to declare other than their monthly salaried earning. This includes my good self.” Unfortunately the wording of the article gives the impression, that there is some income which Dr Balzan would like to cover up, or that he was unwilling to discuss matters with the TCU. It should have been a rather obvious fact that doctors who do not practice privately do not have any income they can hide.

Following clarifications from many doctors, the TCU itself felt that there was no reason for further discussion with so many of our colleagues. This is contrary to what you seem to claim, namely that these doctors were unwilling to declare or discuss their income with the TCU. The fact that the TCU has had a negligible effect on the government’s revenue effectively proves that it has targeted the wrong people.

In conclusion, I repeat that it is unfair, and unproductive for the TCU to target just one profession out of a total of 25,000 self-employed persons and a myriad of small commercial enterprises. The Parliamentary Secretary’s explanation that in due course all self-employed persons will be targeted cannot hold serious credibility as, at the rate the TCU is going, it will take around 200 years to screen the whole population of non-salaried income earners! Surely it would have wiser and fairer to target those whose lifestyle does not tally with their declared income, irrespective of their profession or trade.

Dr Stephen Fava
The Medical Association of Malta President

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