With some 255 million people and 17,000 islands, Indonesia is big in many ways except one: its tax base. Only 27 million citizens are registered taxpayers, and in 2014 less than a million of them paid what they owed. For Indonesia to live up to its potential, that number has to increase.
Indonesia has missed its revenue targets for several years running. Last year, with the plunge in oil prices, tax collections fell short by $17.2 billion. One fix, to be debated when parliament reconvenes next month, is a tax amnesty plan meant to raise more than $4 billion by persuading Indonesians to bring home money from overseas. Yet amnesties don't always work so well in countries like Indonesia, where taxpayers face little credible threat of punishment for not coming clean.