Life, love and levies: Taiwan seeks poet to wax lyrical on taxes


Taiwan wants people to find lyrical inspiration in a subject that’s also close to the heart: taxes. Photo: AFP

Love, laughter and lonely clouds have inspired poets the world over. But now Taiwan wants people to find lyrical inspiration in a subject that’s also close to the heart: taxes.

The finance ministry has launched a competition for the public to write verse about initiatives aimed at making it easier to file taxes. Topics include such gems as the uniform invoice redemption app, the Taxpayer Rights Protection Act, and tax refunds on energy-saving appliances and the replacement of used vehicles.

The competition has inspired budding bards - and humourists - to channel the likes of William Carlos Williams on Twitter.

To be sure, taxes have inspired plenty of lyrics in the past. "The tax man’s taken all my dough, and left me in my stately home,” the Kinks sang in Sunny Afternoon. And Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a fan, according to the hit musical Hamilton. "Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got frisky. Imagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whisky!”

And Britain’s former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy penned 22 Reasons For The Bedroom Tax back in 2013.

Epigrams not epics

Taiwan said the poems must be no more than 10 lines in length and must be submitted in both Chinese and English. Only Taiwanese citizens may enter, and the winner will be announced at the end of August, receiving NT$18,000 (US$600, RM2,639) in cash.

However, the taxman will be coming to take back some of that money - it must be declared as income when filing next year.

One reason for the competition may be Taiwan’s relatively flat tax revenues since 2018, even as the economy has boomed thanks to surging global demand for semiconductors. Tax revenue was equal to 12.1% of Taiwan’s gross domestic product in 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Finance.

That’s significantly lower than most other developed economies and less than the global average of 14.9%, according to data from the World Bank. - Bloomberg

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Poetry , Tax , Taiwan , Public , Literature


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