A demonstration was organized on Tuesday morning in Budapest against the amendment to the law on the Itemized Tax for Small Businesses (“KATA” for short in Hungarian), which the government submitted to parliament on Monday. Thousands of people signed up for the Facebook event, with a few hundred arriving at the venue by the time the demonstration began. Opposition politicians also took part in the event, Index reports.
On behalf of the government, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén submitted a draft law on the new rules for small-scale taxation to Parliament on Monday, which has now been adopted by MPs. The new rules include amendments that could mean that a significant proportion of the 450,000 or so taxpayers currently paying KATA will have to look for another tax solution after September, as KATA will in the future only be available to full-time self-employed individuals providing services or selling products to individuals.
The planned changes sparked dissatisfaction, especially among those working in the film industry and the arts.
The demonstration under the slogan “Do not vote for it!,” on Budapest’s Kossuth Square officially started at 10 a.m., and Index posted a live video on Facebook:
Representatives from several affected sectors – creative industry professionals, hairdressers, film-makers – also turned up at Parliament to protest the change in the law, with food delivery workers, for example, standing together in a group. Opposition politicians also appeared at the square.
At around 11 a.m., at the suggestion of Ferenc Gelencsér, president of the liberal Momentum Movement, the demonstrators started chanting that Margaret Bridge should be closed, and party politicians led the crowd in blocking the bridge, stopping both motor traffic and public transport. The crowd gathered in the middle of the bridge by Margaret Island.
The Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK) was diverting traffic from both the Buda and Pest sides of the bridge.
Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony shared a Facebook post about the protest. He wrote:
I understand the anger of the protesters. The government, breaking all its promises, wants to transform the most popular form of taxation for small taxpayers in a day, in a statutory way, without any meaningful preparation time,”
the post reads.
The politician added: “The understandable and justified protests have caused traffic in Budapest to slow down considerably in recent hours. Our staff is doing their utmost to ensure that free political expression does not cause more disruption than is inevitable in the city. I ask for and thank the people of Budapest for their understanding and patience.”
Featured image via Ferenc Gelecsér’s Facebook page