Budget soundbite: Our fair & unique tax system is designed on the principle of collective responsibility


In this excerpt of his Budget roundup speech on Mar 2, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong explained why a tax system where the bulk of the burden is borne by a small group of people at the top end is unsustainable and how it will hurt our social fabric.

“Let me explain. The bottom line is that we cannot sustain a tax system where the bulk or all of the burden is borne by a small group of people at the top end. It will not be possible to hold our society together if only a small group of people are required to pay more taxes all the time, while the rest simply get to piggy-back on their contributions to enjoy more benefits.

That is why having a broad-based tax like the GST is so vital. It makes a direct link between our demands as voters and our responsibilities as citizens. Break that link and we encourage irresponsible lobbying and playing to the gallery. Someone else will pay for the good things in life. Why not demand more?

That is how we have designed our system – on the principle of collective responsibility. Everyone contributes towards the cost of delivering services, and everyone benefits from these services, but to different degrees. Those with greater means bear a higher burden, and they draw less on Government support, but they still enjoy some benefits from the Government. Those with fewer means carry a lighter share, but they still contribute something, and in return they receive more benefits from the Government – more than they put in, and more than the better off. In this way we all do our part to help ourselves and one another, and we strengthen the trust that binds us together as a society. This is a fair and inclusive system.”