After the loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquakes that occurred on February 6, 2023 and affected 10 provinces of Turkey, earthquake taxes and where these taxes go are on the agenda of social media. First of all, there is no direct tax called earthquake tax in Turkey. Taxes, known as earthquake tax in the public, refer to the taxes brought by the law enacted after the earthquakes of 17 August and 12 November 1999.
What is the “Earthquake Tax”?
“Law on the Establishment of Certain Obligations and the Amendment of Some Tax Laws in order to Recover the Economic Losses Caused by the Earthquake That Occurred in and Around the Marmara Region on 17.8.1999 and 12.11.1999 on 17.8.1999 and 12.11. Some new taxes were introduced. These new taxes were as follows:
- Additional Income Tax,
- Additional Corporate Tax,
- Additional Property Tax,
- Additional Motor Vehicles Tax,
- Special communication tax,
- Special Transaction Tax
Due to the name of the law and the reason for its enactment, these taxes began to be called “earthquake tax” among the society. Among the taxes we have counted, only the “Special Communication Tax” has a permanent nature, and the tax item in question has survived to the present day. For this reason, “earthquake tax” and “special communication tax” are used almost synonymously.
The special communication tax is collected under the “other budget revenues” item. In addition, although the special communication tax was enacted to reduce economic losses after the 1999 earthquake, the taxes are not used for certain expenses. Tax expert Dr. Ozan Bingöl explains the situation as follows:
“Although the Special Communications Tax was created after the Marmara Earthquake and for the purpose of healing the wounds of the earthquake, it is within the scope of other budget tax revenues. It is regulated in the Expense Taxes Law. Both in Turkey and in the modern world, taxes are not specific to certain expenses. They are collected in the budget to meet public expenditures and spent for public needs. On the other hand, the money collected in the form of funds is allocated for works that are suitable for the purpose of the fund. It is used within the scope stipulated in the fund legislation for the realization of that purpose. Special Communication Tax is a kind of indirect tax. It is received through the communication service used. The collected taxes are added to the general budget revenues and used for general budget expenditures. This usage includes the expenses made for the earthquake as well as the construction of roads, bridges, hospitals, and the payment of the wages of the employees.
In other words, although the Special Communications Tax was introduced in 1999 under the name of “The Law on the Establishment of Certain Obligations and Amendments to Some Tax Laws in order to Recover the Economic Losses Caused by the Earthquake in and Around the Marmara Region”, it is not actually spent only on earthquake-related issues. As Ozan Bingöl stated, it is not possible to allocate certain tax revenues to certain expenses in accordance with the budget law. Tax revenues are collected in a pool and spent from the pool for expenses. For this reason, Bingöl stated that in times of crisis, it is a democratic approach to pursue all tax revenues, not specific taxes.
On January 30, 2021, with the Presidential Decision No. 31380, Special Communications Tax rates were increased by 33%, and Special Communications Tax Rates from 7.5% were increased to 10%. At the end of 2022, the Special Communications Tax increased by a record 122.93%.
How Much Is the “Special Communication Tax” Collected Since 2000?
The Special Communications Tax was introduced in November 1999. It is seen that the total amount of special communication tax collected between 2000-2022 is 88 billion 298 million TL. When the calculation is made with the average dollar exchange rate received from the CBRT of the relevant years, the amount of Special Communications Tax collected in 22 years corresponds to 38.4 billion dollars.
|YEAR||Special Communication Tax (Billion TL)|
Data on Special Communications Tax collection amounts for the years 2004-2005 were taken from the Revenue Administration, 2000-2003 and 2006-2020 data were obtained from the Budget Sizes and Budget Realizations page of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, and 2021-2022 tax amounts were obtained from the December 2022 bulletin of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance..