Pakistan has a problem collecting taxes. The rich don't pay, and poor get screwed. But one neighborhood in Karachi has found a solution that works: send transgender tax collectors to the homes of the wealthy and shame them into paying.
It's tax season in Pakistan, which basically means nothing to the majority of the 170 million people who live there. Less than two percent of Pakistanis pay any income tax, and the wealthy are adept at hiding their money when they have to. And one law even states that the government is not allowed to investigate money transferred in from other countries. Oh, and the laws are written by some of the richest people in the country — politicians. How convenient! According to figures obtained by the Times' Sabrina Tavernise, last year the government pulled in the least amount of taxes in the country's history.
But the tax collection board in one of Karachi's wealthiest neighborhoods has hired transgender sex workers to knock on doors and shame the rich into paying. From the Times' At War blog:
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."
While the tactic works on many rich people, when it comes to government officials in Pakistan, status trumps all:
In a sign of the power of Pakistan's VIP culture, one collector told me that the TG team recently approached the house of an unknown defaulter. They quickly learned it was the home of the provincial minister of excise and taxation. The team promptly left without creating its usual spectacle to shame the delinquent taxpayer.
[At War; Image via Getty]