Posts Tagged ‘tax collection’

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Another Eritrean embassy engages in extortion

January 10, 2014

It happens in Kenya, Canada, Britain, and, according to a new report, in Israel as well.  Eritrean diplomats carry out the dirty work of the dictatorship back home by forcing Eritreans living abroad to pay an illegal tax.

That tax funds the dictatorship and the al-Shabaab terrorist organization it supports.

Not only is the use of ambassadors and consuls to collect such a tax a violation of international consular law, but this latest case represents a violation of an Israeli law that caps foreign remittances.

The Eritrean embassy instructed Eritreans in Israel to remit their tax payments to a bank in Frankfurt, Germany, for follow-on transfer to Eritrea.

It’s become clear that Eritrean embassies really don’t help ordinary Eritreans who have attempted to make better lives for themselves abroad.  The “diplomats” are regime henchmen, fomenting strife within and extortion against the communities which they are supposed to serve.  The ultimate beneficiary is the repressive regime in Eritrea and its al-Shabaab partner.

From the Jerusalem Post, with a tip of the hat to El Grillo:

Eritrean Embassy offering advice how to make illegal money transfers

By BEN HARTMAN

12/23/2013 02:44

Migrants make claims day after brawl involving dozens of Eritrean regime opponents and supporters at Kibbutz Kinneret.

The Eritrean Embassy in Israel is advising migrants in Israel how to transfer money back to Eritrea through a bank account in Germany, contrary to Israeli law, which forbids such transfers, a group of Eritrean migrants said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

The migrants called the press conference the morning after a brawl involving dozens of regime opponents and supporters at an event organized by the embassy at Kibbutz Kinneret on Saturday, in which over a dozen people were wounded and around 15 arrested. They said that the embassy gave instructions to migrants about how to transfer money and also advertised real estate in Eritrea, telling them that it was a good opportunity for them to build a house back in their home country.

A law passed earlier this year makes it illegal for African migrants to transfer money out of Israel to their home country, and assigns stiff penalties to people found breaking this law, or Israelis found helping Africans wire money home.

The law stipulates that the transfer must be less than the minimum wage in Israel divided by the number of months the person has been in the country.

There were several hundred migrants taking part in the press conference on Saturday, activists in Tel Aviv said Sunday. They said a group of around 60 regime opponents arrived and were accused of being “Ethiopian instigators” by ambassador Tesfemariam Tekeste, at which time the say they were attacked.

The regime supporters and the ambassador said they were peacefully holding the meeting when they were set upon by Eritrean men wielding sticks and throwing rocks, with some wielding knives and screwdrivers.

At the press conference in an events hall near the Tel Aviv central bus station, regime opponents showed a pamphlet they say was being handed out by regime supporters at the event the previous day, which showed details of a bank called “Commerzbank” in Frankfurt. The pamphlet included a Swift code and details for transferring money through the German bank to the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea, where they were told to specify that the money was meant for the “Urban Development Eritrea – Housing Project 2013.”

For unclear reasons, the pamphlets were in English, not Tigrinye.

The Eritrean government requires citizens in the diaspora to pay a monthly tax in order to retain their passport and that tax as well as money sent home by citizens outside the country are major sources of revenue for the Eritrean government…

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Jesus the tax reformer. Muhammad the tax collector.

December 24, 2009

This Christmas, Money Jihad examines the striking contrast between the attitudes of Jesus Christ and Muhammad toward taxation.  

The Christmas story begins in a manger in Bethlehem.  Why Bethlehem?  Because of the Roman census and taxes.  Joseph’s lineage traced to Bethlehem, so that is where his family was due to be counted in the census of Judea (Luke 2:4).  In antiquity, a primary purpose of a census was to establish the tax amount due to the state, in this case to Rome. 

Rome depended heavily on tribute—taxes paid by the subjects of conquered provinces—to fund its imperial growth.  The Romans could not collect all taxes personally, and outsourced the collection process to local publicani, or tax farmers, who would bid for the collection rights, pay the Romans upfront, and then collect enough from their own countrymen not only to cover their expenses but to line their bulging pockets. 

The tax farmers of the Roman provinces became stinking rich in the process.  They were subject to little regulation or control by any civil authority.  This was the context of tax collection at the time of Jesus. 

Matthew, also known as Levi and traditionally considered to be the author of the Gospel of Matthew, was a tax collector.  We do not know how personally corrupt Matthew was, but his reputation seemed to be no different from most tax farmers at that time.  That all changed one day when Jesus found Matthew, and Matthew found Jesus (Matthew 9:9).  Many depictions of Jesus summoning Matthew show the tax collector working at a desk, focused on his tax rolls with gold coins on the table: 

The Calling of St. Matthew

This painting by Hendrick ter Brugghen is especially helpful in showing the utter confusion of Matthew at being selected by Jesus.  His perplexed expression and head-scratching gesture say, “You mean, me?  A tax collector?”  It was a surprising choice in an era when tax collection was frequently equated with harlotry and sin. 

When the Pharisees asked why Jesus would eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners, he answered, “Those that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). 

In other words, Matthew was not selected because his profession was “righteous,” but to bring him to repentance and salvation.  Neither was Matthew selected for his abilities to collect revenues for a new Christian state, because Jesus would never impose any taxes. 

Later, when the Pharisees tried to ensnare Jesus by asking him if it were lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus answered, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”  (Mark 12:17).  Thus Jesus acknowledged the civil authority of the state.  At the same time, Jesus rejected profiting from the house of God, as when he famously drove the money-changers out of the temple in Jerusalem. 

Metzger & Coogan’s entry on the publicani in the Oxford Companion to the Bible says, “Most of the time we hear of the humble and despised publicans, whom Jesus made a point of treating, as he did other outcasts, like human beings who could be saved.”  If Jesus had any message for the tax collectors, it wasn’t “how much can you rake in?” it was “go and sin no more.” 

In addition to saving mankind, Jesus ushered in a new way of looking at taxes:  he acknowledged the power of the state to collect it, but he worked to reform individual tax collectors by abandoning their sins, and Jesus never profited from taxes himself. 

Muhammad, on the other hand… Read the rest of this entry ?