Transgender Tax Collectors
Shaming Muslim deadbeats into paying by sending
transgender tax collectors to their front doors.
KARACHI, Pakistan — In one of Karachi’s most posh neighborhoods, only half of the 500,000 residents paid their property, maintenance and water taxes last year.
As a result, the Clifton Cantonment board, like Pakistan itself, is in serious financial trouble.
Fewer than a million out of 170 million Pakistanis voluntarily filed income tax returns last year. The rate is among the lowest in the world reports the New York Times.
In a bid for a solution — and some publicity — the Clifton board borrowed a creative idea that alleviated tax woes in neighboring India: It hired a team of transgendered tax collectors to go door to door to embarrass the rich until they pay.
Transgendered people, known as TGs in Pakistan, carry a social stigma in the country, and their presence rattles the rich. For many of the TGs hired by the Clifton board, tax collecting is their first salaried job, and two of them still work as sex workers.
“Neighbors will come out and say, ‘Oh, what’s happening?’ and the bad name the person will get, this will maybe convince them to pay taxes,” said Aziz Suharwardy, the board’s vice president. “And that’s exactly what happens.”
The TGs have collected $100,000 in about nine months, 10 times the cost of the program. Still, the TG’s collection barely puts a dent in the board’s $5 million tax revenue shortfall.
Thanks to Blazing Cat Fur for a heads up on this story.