Cirebon, West Java. Indonesia’s biggest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, has threatened to issue a religious edict that would forbid its members to pay taxes until the government rids the tax system from corruption.
In his opening speech at an NU conference in Cirebon, West Java on Saturday, chairman Said Aqil Siradj said that the people’s obligation to pay taxes should be reviewed, and maybe even be halted until a remedy would be found.
“We should review it,” he said, after which the plan to issue a tax fatwa was discussed by the religious scholars attending the conference.
NU has around 40 million members across the country.
A series of tax scandals has hit the country, with the most recent indication of fraud being the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK)’s findings that poor tax compliance may have cost the state Rp 368.7 billion ($40 million) this fiscal year.
Previously, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested a number of tax officials and businesspeople caught making deals to avoid tax payment.
Earlier this year, public confidence in the tax office was dealt a blow when authorities discovered large amounts of rupiah, dollars and gold in bank accounts belonging to tax official Dhana Widyatmika.
The case was reminiscent of that of Gayus Tambunan, who was arrested after investigators found more than Rp 100 billion in his bank accounts.
Gayus is currently serving a 30-year sentence for accepting more than $7 million in bribes while working as a tax official.
In July, the antigraft agency caught another government official red-handed, when he was receiving a Rp 300 million suspected bribe from a businessman.
Ali Masykur Musa, chairman of NU’s scholar association, said the organization’s decision to discuss the tax issue should be a wake-up call for the government.
“We should see this as a warning to the government so that tax revenue can be managed better,” he told the conference.
Senior NU functionary Yenny Wahid said that the organization’s proposal should be taken seriously by the government.