More children, less tax as Turkey seeks population growth

ZÜBEYDE YALÇIN
ANKARA
Published 14.06.2017 00:13

The government plans to boost tax discounts for families with three children as the country seeks to encourage population growth in the rapidly aging Turkey. Thus, if you have three children - as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan often recommends to newlywed couples in one of his most famous pieces of advice - you will get more tax cuts. A 5 percent discount in income tax is already in place for parents having their third child and the government now plans to raise it to 10 percent. The discount in taxes is expected to be included in an amended version on a draft bill on income tax that is currently before Parliament.

The same draft bill will also put disabled citizens in the "children" category even they exceed the legal limit of age of 18 to be eligible to pay income taxes. Parents with adolescent disabled children will be eligible for income tax discounts under the planned bill.

Recent statistics indicate a decline in the youth population, as Turkey is challenged by the phenomenon of an aging populace in the coming decades. Figures from the state-run Turkish Statistical Agency (TurkStat) show the proportion of the youth population was 28.7 percent, i.e., 22.8 million at the end of 2016. It is a concerning decline compared to 1935 when children in the fledgling Republic of Turkey constituted 45 percent of the total population. Statistics show that the youth population peaked at 48.5 percent in 1970 before starting its gradual decline in the following years. Turkey ranks 96th among 167 countries with the highest proportion of youth, TurkStat says.

The latest numbers corroborates authorities' concerns about the aging population. The country, which has a population of more than 78 million people, hopes to boost its population numbers by offering incentives to larger families such as longer paid leave and social benefits. Projections made earlier by TurkStat show that the elderly population will increase to 10.2 percent by 2023 and is expected to rise even further in the following decade. Experts link these projections to a decline in fertility and new treatments to increase longevity being available.

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