The tragedy of the pandemic in Brazil made visible serious pathologies in the State and in society that remained disguised by our historical inability to deal with problems responsibly and by the degradation of the little that existed of empathy. The state, vilified by systemic corruption and corporatism, is unable to exercise its minimal responsibilities. Public health, for example, in spite of the honorable efforts of those who militate in it, is inefficient and expensive. His administration is often subordinated to political allotment, which invariably flows into scandals.

In the public service elite, the constitutional rule of the remuneration ceiling was not even enforced. In the Judiciary, the artifices for granting bonuses disguised in indemnities to circumvent the ceiling are astonishing. It is unacceptable to grant housing assistance when millions of Brazilians have nowhere to live or live in unworthy conditions. In the Legislative, the superlative quotas for the exercise of parliamentary activity constitute a deplorable form of remuneration, against the poverty of the population.

The social and economic repercussions of the pandemic will be devastating. But how are we going to demand sacrifices from everyone, if the elite of the public service enjoys privileges, formerly unacceptable and now accusing? The example is an effective didactic.

Few times in our history has the institutional balance been so threatened. Sensibility is beaten daily for outrageous verbal incontinence. Social networks are dominated by hatred and extreme polarization. Vandalism, even in the current circumstances, is on the streets. Everything reminds me of what I said Ortega y Gasset (Meditations of the Quixote) in 1914: “The intimate home of the Spaniards was seized in time by hatred, which remains there, spreading war on the world”.

I strongly hope for a civilized outcome, but I fear that we will have serious problems.

The time is right to continue tackling the pandemic. The dilemma between health and employment is false. It would be foolish to prescribe social isolation if not as a strategy – not the only one – of health policy. Although it is obvious, let us not forget that the dead do not produce or pay taxes.

The confrontation cannot, however, prohibit reflections on what to do besides the health policy. It is attributed to Marquis of Alorna answer given to Dom José I, king of Portugal, who asked what to do after the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755: “Burying the dead and taking care of the living”.

Although we are not always burying the dead with the reverence dictated by ancestral traditions, it is necessary to recruit contributions for the future. I rush to offer more suggestions in the tax field.

It is advisable to immediately complete the tax exemption for the production and distribution of vaccines. Such an initiative dispenses with justifications and would be unfeasible if we were muzzled by the unfortunate thesis of the single rate and prohibition of incentives.

The tax administration should take care of the certification of credits and accumulated losses, which, added to the precatories, provide in the future a wide compensation with credits registered in active debt.

Taxes with maturity postponed in weak sectors will have to be paid in installments. Without fixed deadlines and amnesties, as has been usual, but linked to gross revenue, as in the original Refis (1999), allowing flexible coexistence with the crisis.

It is time to discipline the Tax Compliance Bonus (Law No. 10,637 of 2002), which reduces the taxation of taxpayers who do not have tax litigation, thus encouraging friendly conduct, in the wake of the premium sanctions recommended by Norberto Bobbio. More boldly, one could consider the adoption of new hypotheses for granting the bonus.

The future task of rebalancing the fiscal accounts will not be easy and will require a lot of determination and creativity. This, however, will be a universal, rather than a Brazilian, problem.


See too:

Coronavirus: Bolsonaro’s image in the international press