What to think of the immense tax fine that Dogan Media Group was hit with this week? At 3.7 billion Turkish Liras ($ 2.5 billion), it’s a shocking amount of money. Of course, the debate about whether Dogan Media Group has really been cheating on taxes or whether it’s just another step in the efforts by the AKP government to shut up opposition media is heating up again. Again? Yes, this is not the first fine, so not the first debate – read this short article I wrote about it previously.
When you think of it, the whole matter can only arouse such fierce debate because there is reason to doubt both the media group and the AKP government. The guys who run the media group are no saints, it’s practically impossible that they always played strictly by the rules. But 3.7 billion Liras, that’s just outrageous. Even more so because of course the Dogan Media Group is by no means the only big company that has its ways of paying less tax than they should. It’s exactly this selectiveness in fining one company and not bothering another that makes the fine more disputable. The best thing the AKP could do is to apply the rules strictly for every company, whether they are friends of the government or not. It would gain them respect, and of course some money too. And couldn’t that be used nicely for education, health care, and let’s say investing in making cities more flood-proof (and safer in case of an earth quake, because flooding is not the only risk)? Not only taxes have been ignored, but also people’s safety, as we clearly saw this week when 32 people died in the worst floods Istanbul has ever seen.