The top taxpayers in Turkey for the year 2015 have been determined. According to the list of the Revenue Administration on the top 100 taxpayers, the number one taxpayer of 2015 was the daughter of Vehbi Koç and member of the Koç Holding Executive Board Semahat Sevim Arsel, with 45,157,918 TL paid in taxes. While the Honorary President of Enka Holding Şarik Tara held the first place in 2014 with 37,5 million TL tax payments, he made it at third place this year, with 35,8 million TL. The institution with the highest payment of corporation tax this year was the Turkish Central Bank, with 2 billion 350 million 777 thousand TL paid as taxes.
Where are the Panamanians?
While 38 of the top 100 taxpayers were not disclosed in 2014, this number rose to 51 this year. And, this brings into mind the Turkish names that are included in the Panama Papers.
It caught attention that the Topbaş family, who had appeared in Panama Papers as having two off-shore firms, is not ‘seen’ at the top 100 list for this year. With a tax payment of 7,26 million TL, Mustafa Latif Topbaş had been placed as 16th in last year’s top 100 list. Furthermore, as the biggest shareholder of the retail chain BİM, Topbaş is ranked at the 22nd place in Forbes’ list of Top 100 Wealthiest Turks.
His firm has flown away, his name has vanished
Additionally, the Cengiz brothers Mehmet and Ekrem Cengiz were also ‘invisible’ in the 2015 list, although they were placed as 39th and 45th in 2014. Cengiz Enerji San, the firm of Mehmet Cengiz, who is a businessman known for his affinity towards AKP, was included in İstanbul Chamber of Industry’s top 500 list in 2015 as increasing its sales by 284% and reaching a volume of 621,308,369 TL. Therefore, why they were not listed in this year’s top 100 taxpayers list has become a matter of question.
Reza Zarrab is not on the list, either
Another undisclosed name that raised speculations is one of the most significant names of the 17-25 December corruption investigations, Reza Zarrab, who had actually claimed to have ‘closed Turkey’s current deficit’ and been given 46th place in taxpayers list of 2014. Zarrab is still in custody in New York, USA over the allegations of his breach of the economic sanctions on Iran.
The real tax champions are the workers
Professor of Gazi University’s Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Dr. Aziz Konukman has pointed out that being a taxpayer champion may not necessarily hold a positive connotation. Konukman said, “One of these days, there was a news story on a newspaper. It read that ‘a firm that had been established by a taxpayer champion turned out to be in fictitious export.’ On the other hand, a person can be a taxpayer champion but can also do money laundering abroad at the same time, just as it was shown in Panama Papers.”
Indicating that the actual taxpayer champions are the workers since they are the ones who are the subjects of indirect taxes and income taxes the most, Konukman continued to explain: “Because, the ratio of indirect taxes is around 70% and a great deal of this is paid by the workers. And, two thirds of the income taxes are paid as withholding tax. There is also no escape of these taxes. However, the listed taxpayer champions may have not disclosed the actual amount. It is important to highlight these controversies.”