Economy

Bayraktar tops taxpayer list, but why others choose anonymity?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar is listed as Türkiye’s top taxpayer for the last 3 years. However the number of taxpayers who chose not to be revealed publicly in the Treasury and Finance’s list has been growing. What are the reasons behind taxpayer’s reluctance to go public?

The Ministry of Treasury and Finance published Türkiye’s top taxpayers list after 3 years on January 3, revealing that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Türkiye’s drone manufacturer Baykar’s chairman, Selçuk Bayraktar, has been the top taxpayer for three years in a row: 2020, 2021, and 2022.

First of all, congratulations to Bayraktar. He became the top taxpayer in a time where there are those who earn and evade taxes and those who go to Mann Island to set up companies to avoid taxes.

Bayraktar is the top taxpayer

According to the list published by the Revenue Administration, Bayraktar paid 564 million, 124 thousand, and 316 liras of tax in 2022 from “income from movable capital activities in one’s own name.” In other words, it is from the income from Bayraktar’s Baykar shares from UAV and UCAV sales. His advisor informs that he does not earn from the financial markets.

The political backstage is buzzing, wondering whether the tax record holder status will strengthen the possibility of Bayraktar, President Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, becoming the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. We will soon find out.

What caught my attention was that 76 of the 100 highest tax payers hid their names, which was also a record. Why were there so many people who did not want their names to appear on the tax list?

Who is on the list and who is not?

For instance, Rahmi Koç is third, with Bayraktar in first place. We don’t know who is in second place; it is hidden.

Then 4, 5, 6, and 7 are hidden. 8th is Sinan Tara of ENKA Construction, thanks to “stocks and bonds.” 9th and 10th are İpek Kıraç and Ömer Koç, also from Koç Holding. The Koç’s did not hesitate to announce how much tax they paid.

In addition, Erman Ilıcak is in 12th place, Gönenç Gürkaynak is in 14th place, Aydın Doğan is in 27th place, Lucien Arkas is in 35th place, and Ömer Dinçkök is in 42nd place.

Gürkaynak paid his taxes from “legal consultancy and representation,” while other taxpayers paid their taxes from “stocks and bonds.” As they say, money attracts money; that’s the summary.

What is there to fear on the tax list?

One of the experts I consulted on the issue told me, “If we are looking for criminals here, we should look at the decaying business environment rather than the business people who hide their names.”

The effect of inflation on rules and ethical values came to mind with this answer.

But why did more and more names want to hide themselves every year, and from whom? It can’t be the state or the government; it is the Ministry of Treasury and Finance that keeps the records.

Then from whom and why?

Expert comments are as follows:

Some business owners do not want their employees (and, for example, their unions) to know their earnings and use them to negotiate wage increases in an environment where inflation is eroding wages.

State authorities know these figures, but political parties, associations, foundations, sects and communities, and criminal organisations, for example, do not have easy access to this information. Some business owners are worried that these groups will demand money from them.

There are also those who do not want their recent sudden enrichment through political or social connections to be in the public eye.

Institutions as well as individuals

We do not know which company paid the highest corporate tax; the corporate tax champion is hidden, as are the third and fifth.

Except for the hidden ones, all the companies in the top ten are banks: Garanti, Yapı Kredi, Akbank, İşbank, Halkbank, QNB, and Denizbank.

Banks and financial institutions lead the list of companies that did not hide their names; we can say that they wanted to but could not hide their names. In the corporate tax list, 38 companies did not want to disclose their names, the highest number ever.

But we are already in an environment where the tax lists, which have been announced for the first time in the last three years, are becoming less and less transparent, in parallel with the decline in control and accountability in the state administration. It is important that one of the determinants of this process is the still-unabated inflation.

Who is responsible for this situation—the one who hides or the one who hides?

Murat Yetkin

Journalist-Writer

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