Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

Taliban extracts crippling taxes through violence and detention, WSJ reports

According to a report by Wall Street Journal, the Taliban has been able to collect more taxes from people and businesses in Afghanistan than the previous government, even as the economy has collapsed and most in the country are struggling to afford food.

“We are creating a culture of tax paying, in spite of all our problems,” Nooruddin Azizi, the Taliban commerce minister told WSJ. “It takes effort and hardship to move the country towards self-sufficiency. Some will even sustain losses, but the person or shopkeeper who makes a loss now will enjoy a lot of benefits in future years.”

However, the new tax regime has been hard on businesses, which are already struggling to survive in the country’s crumbling economy.

“This is a catastrophic life,” said the owner of a grocery store in Kabul. “I’m using my savings so my family eats. If we don’t pay the taxes, I’m afraid of a beating or being put in jail.”

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The Taliban has denied that anyone is being jailed or beaten for not paying taxes, but the owner of the grocery store told WJS he knows of several people who have been threatened with violence.

“They come to our shops and demand money,” he said. “If we don’t pay, they say they will beat us or put us in jail.”

The Taliban says that it is committed to creating a fair and just tax system, but the new regime has been met with widespread criticism from businesses and ordinary Afghans, the American newspaper reports.

“The Taliban is just another corrupt government,” said a shopkeeper in Kabul. “They are only interested in lining their own pockets.”