Kids learn all about taxes

  • 2001-10-18
  • Anna Pridanova
RIGA - Reinis, aged 11, did not quite know what lay in store when he and about 500 other school-aged kids attended the premier of a series of cartoons on the subject of taxes on Oct. 11.

"I think the cartoon will be about money," he said, settling into the cushions at the Riga movie theater for what officials hope will be a fun way to learn about a subject many Latvians have had trouble with since the collapse of the Soviet state.

"Where does my money go?" commissioned by the State Revenue Service from the Dauka cartoon studio and introduced by heroes from the "Emergency Brigade" cartoon seemed to go down well.

To drive home the importance of taxes Andrejs Sonciks, the revenue service's head, made sure the youngsters could spell the name of his institution before giving a short talk on value added tax - that stealthy revenue generator paid by young and old alike.

In 2000 the state lost 7.3 million lats ($11.87 million) in 2000 due to economic crime, the revenue service estimates.

This handful of cartoons, among more than 1,100 made recently on a range of issues faced by young people, dramatized tax-related situations using heroes and villains, such as a black market dealer who avoids taxes and the trusty tax official who skillfully ensures the money flows to where it is most needed.

The young audience waved postcards and stickers every time a photographer appeared to record their enthusiasm, which for the most part seemed sincere.

"We weren't told it would be about taxes," said an impressed teacher, Kristine Dziluma, accompanying pupils from Riga's Secondary School No. 2. Dita Klavina, press secretary at the State Revenue Service, said, "These cartoons aren't only for kids, but it is important for children to know about taxes, because they need to be prepared, their parents aren't always able to explain everything they need to know about tax policies."

After a couple of cartoons the kids seemed fully prepared to teach their parents a thing or two.

The video version of these lively cartoons, which can be purchased for around 3 lats will be distributed to all schools by the Ministry of Education and Science.

While old-fashioned smuggling is on the decline, tax evasion remains rampant, according to Aivars Purmalis, director of the revenue services' fraud police. "Businessmen often simply evade taxes or they unjustifiably claim refunds," Purmalis told the Baltic News Service.