Selling Tortillas on the Streets

Buying tortillas on the street

The informal economy is the basis for making a living for most Guatemalans. That is why you have shoe-shining boys, orchids sellers, furniture sellers, textiles sellers, handicrafts sellers, vehicle watchers, ice cream handcarts sellers, market merchants and a very long et-cetera. As matter of fact, Guatemala’s SAT, IRS equivalent, has a tough time collecting the minimum tax required which is 12% of the Gross National Product. By the way, 12% is Guatemala’s sale tax and most people that do pay taxes are under a 5% income tax. The biggest problem with a poor tax collection system is that there are little social security benefits for the majority of the population. Things like health care, retirement plans, unemployment insurance, accident and death insurance are nonexistent or cover so little that the for the effect is the same. I know this is touchy subject for most people up-north, especially Canada and Europe, but believe it, paying taxes is what makes the difference.

For the next few days, please pull out your sunglasses because Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo will have an avalanche of rich and saturated colors for you. Come back to see a continuation of Guatemala’s Color Palette.

© 2007 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Rudy, what kind of tortillas are the selling?
    I’ll wait impatiently for your colorful photos! Here days are really grey…

  • Dsole, these are just plain maize tortillas like you can see here.

  • I love taxes. In fact I’d pay more if I knew they were going to go toward things like the public library and welfare and education. I am not in favor of funding this stupid war in the Middle East. No sirree. Taxes are not a sore spot because of the war.

    I work in the social services here in Rhode Island and we are feeling the effects of the financial cuts badly. My clients (homeless families) are now in a tougher situation than a few months ago. It’s bad.

    Not to get us all down and depressed. I really like this photo. My friend just returned from Guatemala last week and she misses is terribly.

  • greg

    “..but believe it, paying taxes is what makes the difference.”

    and who are you suggesting pay those those taxes? the working class?

  • P.S. I made a typo…It should say, “Taxes are NOW a sore spot because of the war.”

  • Jane, I agree with you 150% about using taxes to fund wars is plain stupid, especially elsewhere. We should only battle against, hunger, ignorance, disease among other social troubles. Tell your friend, she can come to Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo for her daily fix on Guatemala.

    Greg, I don’t  understand your question, is it rhetorical? I thought it was plain obvious that taxes are always paid by the working class. For example, GE (we bring good things to life), the transnational corporation paid less than US$1 in the 1980s. The whole world would be much better if the wealthy and the corporations paid their fair share of taxes. The tax load would be much lighter on everybody else.

  • Ham

    Another classic, I’ll come back for the colour-fest

  • ioanna

    Lovely ladys, lovely colors!

  • I remember hearing on NPR radio about a country (I forget which one) that had a majority of their economy as “cash.” The implications of that were slow to dawn on me — but as they became apparent, I was floored by the implications. You have stated a somewhat similar situation so well here. As much as I hate — and I do mean hate — paying taxes, I really appreciate the services that the taxes provide. Thanks for reminding us to not so much wail against taxes, but rather to work to ensure that the funds are used wisely and not wasted. A better use of our time!

  • LD

    Nice photo, nice commentary, Rudy.

    As you’ve noticed, the tax system really doesn’t work in Guatemala. People just find a way around it, because on top of everything else, they’re not seeing the benefits from taxes. And I have to confess, I was a part of it, too: when taxi drivers told me it would cost more to give me an official receipt, I happily went for the unofficial “recibo” rather than a “factura.”

    It would be interesting to see them try and fix the problems. Of course, the people they should be taxing more are the ones the government doesn’t have the nerve to touch. Hmmm… the Guatemalan rich, perhaps? Maybe those big multi-nationals and mining companies?

    What I love about all these small businesses is that you don’t have to go far to get what you need. I found that’s definitely not the case when I stayed with my brother in the suburbs in the US. A 20 minute drive just to get a carton of milk?

  • I also can’t understand what the “alergy” to taxes is all about. It is only a percentage of what you earn, after all. In fact, a “healthy” tax bill is really a sign that you are doing OK and, like you say Rudy, you can’t provide benefits without a source to fund them.

  • Ham: Thanks for stopping by and your comment. I did not know you travel this far.

    Ioanna: Thanks for the visit. How’s Ioanna, your lovely Greek city?

    Lessie: Well said. I could not put it better even though I did try!

    LD: Welcome back. I thought you forgot about this little old town since you are having all kinds Guatemalan things happening in your life. I’m very happy to read about your Guatemalan Cuisine dinner and the good friends that showed up.

    Pamela: Well, taxes are not the only thing, but they are a very good start.

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