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Candidate uses novel way to focus attention on tax evasion

As part of his campaign to enter parliament from the Christian Democratic Movement, candidate Miroslav Vetrík organised a symbolic protest on the Main Square in Bratislava on March 3. The parliamentary candidate burned symbolic tax documents from the period of the Kingdom of Hungary during the reign of Maria Teresa to make the point that there was widespread tax evasion in the 18th century as well as today and that ordinary citizens are the ones who are usually forced to pay taxes.

As part of his campaign to enter parliament from the Christian Democratic Movement, candidate Miroslav Vetrík organised a symbolic protest on the Main Square in Bratislava on March 3. The parliamentary candidate burned symbolic tax documents from the period of the Kingdom of Hungary during the reign of Maria Teresa to make the point that there was widespread tax evasion in the 18th century as well as today and that ordinary citizens are the ones who are usually forced to pay taxes.

“Tax evasion is currently huge, with the state losing more than €1 billion annually only in evaded VAT payments,” Vetrík told the TASR newswire in describing why he chose this kind of protest to draw attention to the problem. In addition to burning the symbolic tax documents, Bratislavans were able to watch puppets that represented the Hungarian royalty and the crown’s imperial guards.

TASR provided some additional background history. In 1764 Empress Maria Teresa summoned the country’s parliament to meet because she intended to start taxing the nobility, as at that time it was only poorer residents who paid taxes. The empress authorised Adam František Kollár, a Slovak lower nobleman, to prepare a legal document for parliament’s consideration. His document entitled On the Origins and Perpetual Use of the Legislative Powers of the Apostolic Kings of Hungary in Matters Ecclesiastical had 61 points and among other things sharply criticised the non-taxable status of property owned by the nobility as well as churches. It aroused enormous public interest both pro and con.

The Hungarian parliament, however, swept Kollár’s document from its agenda after discussing it for a month, TASR wrote, and after parliament rejected the proposals the town executioner publicly shredded and burned the document in a Bratislava square.

TASR wrote that Maria Teresa became so furious that she dissolved the empire’s parliament and never again summoned it to meet during her reign, instead ruling only through decrees she issued. The Hungarian nobility, not surprisingly, detested Kollár and considered him a traitor to the kingdom for the rest of his life even though he continued to have influence with the empress.

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