Severe Legislative Crime in Slovakia

RoyKabanlit || Creative Commons

The Slovak Ministry of Finance sent the entrepreneurs a special package this week. It contains as many as seven (!) new tax law amendments. These deal with income taxes, indirect taxes, tax management, administrative fees, the indirect tax on tobacco products, a special levy for chosen financial institutions and a special levy for entrepreneurs operating in regulated sectors.

The extraordinary content of the tax package is the reason for red alert among entrepreneurs. This attitude is the result of previous negative experiences. In the past, tax amendments often contained hidden “mines”, which started to explode after some time. Time is, also, required for these mines in the tax amendments, to be found. However, the ministry did not grant entrepreneurs the time needed. It proclaimed time constraints, so in order to state concerns for the four tax amendments, the Ministry gave the entrepreneurs only one working day and for the two other amendments two working days. This approach could be considered as a severe legislative crime and regarding the circumstances it is not an exaggerated claim.

The current government, in the same fashion as the previous ones, has promised to improve the quality of the amendments. This takes for granted an improved process of negotiations with affected parties. Because of this, recently, the rules of enacting legislation were appended with a new part, a so-called preliminary consultation proceeding. Before the interdepartmental consultation proceedings, the submitters should consult the amendments in these preliminary proceedings. In the main proceeding, only the consulted amendments should be submitted. The goal itself is an admirable one. However, for it to work the government would have to abstain from torpedoing its own interests with its everyday actions, which are in the strongest and exemplary contrast with them. To give the entrepreneurs one or two days to state their concerns to the seven tax law amendments, is the kind of torpedo, which made the preliminary proceeding a farce.

What was the cause for this behaviour from the Ministry of Finance? It presented a number of unconvincing reasons: the date of parliamentary elections, the approval of the government programme or the negotiations of the tripartite. And the most absurd one: the presidency of Slovak Republic in the EU council! That surely came as a sudden and unforeseeable event for our Ministry of Finance. However, a more important question arises: How can the government ask its companies and citizens to obey the enacted bills, if it doesn’t even obey its own rules?

Translated by Filip Bolčo

Jan Oravec