'No taxation without representation.' It might be a bit of a stretch, but the rallying cry of Washington DC would be equally applicable to Hong Kong. With Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen advocating a wider tax base to stabilise government revenue, it is becoming increasingly clear that he supports the idea of a sales tax. What a pity! One of the characteristics of Hong Kong that I've always been proud of - and eager to brag about to my American friends - is its simple income taxation system, unhampered by sales duties. Hong Kong is, by far, one the most capitalistic communities in the world. It is unfortunate that with economic freedom and efficiency come the inevitable social inequity and the lack of a 'safety net' to cushion those on the lowest rung of the ladder of prosperity. Low taxes attract investment, boost tourism and spur entrepreneurship. Innovation is only financially rewarding when your income is not taxed at 40 per cent. Economics students inevitably learn about the so-called 'invisible hand'. Resources are most efficiently allocated when everyone is working to achieve their own goals. You heard me correctly: it pays to be selfish. But I digress. I am sure that there are sound economic arguments behind the financial secretary's interest in the implementation of a sales tax. But I would like to argue against it on a different level. Who should pay the sales tax? Depending on how firms choose to allocate this extra cost, the burden should be shouldered by both citizens and local companies. What precisely do these stakeholders receive in return for these tax dollars? The government may say that taxes pay for basic services and projects that benefit the public. There are times to get something in return for something and this occasion is perfect. Let me propose a simple exchange: the citizens of Hong Kong will cough up extra money for the purchases we make if the government will allow us to vote for the chief executive. It's not fair to change the status quo with regards to taxes without some form of reciprocation. If the government is not prepared to give sufficient representation, it should think twice before increasing taxes on the population.