JANUARY 24 — I didn't agree with the recent broad lowering of the income tax as I didn't see the point of it but now I see that it was really a preparation to impose more taxes on a broader segment

Why tax the rich more when you can just make everything more expensive for everyone? It's really an indication of how the majority of our politicians are not middle-class as they seem to be oblivious about their hardships.

Even The Star, a paper known for its constant striving for inoffensiveness, started off an article on the upcoming new taxes with “Come March, Malaysians will pay more for living their daily lives, and that includes weekends”.

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When a paper that has done its best to never sound critical of the government in any way whatsoever is giving up on softening its coverage, it says a lot.

While F&B, parking and telecommunications will be excluded, delivery services and even, for some strange reason, karaoke will likely see an 8 per cent tax.

Logistics services will soon see a 6 per cent tax and what hurts my wallet personally is the increase to 8 per cent for overseas-based digital services.

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As The Star pointed out, even just staying home to watch something on Netflix instead of going out will be a more expensive affair.

What I do find slightly puzzling is that traditional Chinese medicine along with other complementary treatments will also face an 8 per cent tax rate.

On paper if you really do the math, the average middle- to upper-middle income winner pays a higher ratio of tax to earnings than even the richest people in Malaysia, the latter of which know how to park their earnings in offshore investments. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
On paper if you really do the math, the average middle- to upper-middle income winner pays a higher ratio of tax to earnings than even the richest people in Malaysia, the latter of which know how to park their earnings in offshore investments. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

From my own perspective it feels as though the government is finding every reason to not levy more taxes on the highest income brackets but instead making everyone pay more tax because hey, more people paying is better than making one segment pay more (according to whichever genius decided on all these taxes).

It's this Puritan thinking that pervades so much of the upper classes and those in power that leisure should only be for the rich, because they earned it (supposedly).

Why should the non-rich be allowed to buy cheaper goods online? Tax them.

Why should they enjoy digital subscriptions (that are a necessity in some fields or are the only option because many software makers have switched to subscription models)? Tax them.

Frustrated with lower income and stress at work so they're singing at karaoke? Tax them.

Meanwhile, open up the Instagram app and you'll see the children of the rich and connected are holidaying in London, New York and Bali spending their money overseas.

On paper if you really do the math, the average middle- to upper-middle income winner pays a higher ratio of tax to earnings than even the richest people in Malaysia, the latter of which know how to park their earnings in offshore investments.

You could argue that all these extra charges are “normal” in other higher-income countries.

We are not a high-income country.

Yes, the “living” taxes are higher in Europe and East Asian countries such as Japan or South Korea.

At least all that money seems to have made some difference to their standard of living.

In Malaysia we have more skyscrapers but schoolchildren in Kota Marudu are still wading through mud to go to school.

With how much the ringgit has crashed, making our spending power even lesser, what's left for the middle-class then? How much more do they have to tighten their belts? Why are they penalised for even the smaller things that make life and living a little more bearable?

Malaysians who have the opportunity, should perhaps consider remote working for foreign companies as even if they pay peanuts, those peanuts are still going to be worth more than what the likes of someone in the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) would pay them.

At this point I really believe the M in Madani stands for miserable, because that is all I feel now reading the news and I work in the news.

If all we have waiting for us in the end is misery, what reason will our young or the middle-class have to vote in the next election when the political system is already rigged against them?

All I can say is that I can only hope there's still something worth hoping for because right now I just can't see it.

* This is the opinion of the columnist.