The tax board collected declarations from 294,467 people last year with a sum total of 11.57 billion kroons ($8 million), up by 2.2 billion kroons from 1996. The number of people declaring their incomes is about 26 percent of the Estonian population, up 3 percent from 1996
"This might be caused by the additional exemptions from taxes like expenses on studies," said Tax Board Director General Kalev Jarvelill.
Income tax reports also show that the wealth of the Estonian people has grown noticably. The number of millionaires, for example, has grown from 48 people to 162. During the last four years of research people with incomes of more than 3 million kroons a year have been recorded. A total of 13 Estonians declared an income of more than 3 million kroons in 1997 and their collective income reached 92 million kroons.
"These people represent very different fields of activity and a number of them are not known as successful businessmen," said Jarvelill. According to Estonian laws, the incomes of the taxpayers can only be published by their consent.
About 22,000 people who earned 100,000 to 500,000 kroons declared 31 percent of the total revenue. Nearly 135,000 people who earned 10,000 to 50,000 kroons declared the same amount from the total revenue. The income of the people who earned 50,000 to100,000 kroons made about 30 percent of the total revenue.
The share of the incomes of millionaires and people with total income under 10,000 kroons was almost the same, about 2.7 per cent.
Estonia has a uniform 26 percent income tax rate and the state collected 2.3 billion kroons in income tax in 1997. Two months ago, the Center Party suggested progressive income tax with four tax rates. The plan to replace the present 26 percent rate with a graduated tax was dismissed; economic experts saw it as a step back in the country's development.
Under the bill, the tax-exempt monthly income would have risen to 1,200 kroons from the previous 500 kroons and annual income above 485,601 kroons would have been taxable at a rate of 33 percent.
According to Jarvelill, the accrued revenue from enterprises has been good as well. He points to the work of the tax board and the growth of the dividend takings to explain this. The number of debts has increased, he said, probably due to the crisis on the stock exchange.
Some companies owe a combined total of 1.16 billion kroons to the state. The biggest debtor is the fishery AS Ookean , which owes 75 million kroons. The second is the dairy Tartu Piim KPU with a debt of almost 16 million kroons. Most of the biggest debtors are bankrupt.
Taxes collected from enterprises are half those collected from individual income tax. The share of enterprise income tax from the state budget has decreased by almost three times during the last five years.
Excise tax gives almost as much revenue to the state budget as the taxes from the individual income. In 1990, the excise tax had been imposed only on fur products. Since 1991, exise taxes on spirits, wine, beer and tobacco have been imposed.
In addition, the motor vehicle excise tax since 1995 and the packaging excise tax since 1997 have been paid. In 1997, the excise tax payments formed 17.2 per cent of the state budget revenues.
The strategy of the tax board in 1997 was focused on VAT. The accrual of VAT formed the biggest share in the state revenues, about 48 percent.
The Estonian tax board is going to cooperate this year with the tax boards of other Baltic States in order to work more efficiently in the whole region.