Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Time honoured tax dodging

THIS postcard from 1947 captures the town of Zlaté Moravce in the Žitava river basin. On mild slopes, there are still vineyards in which the grapevines were fixed to a  štek, or a firm club. This way of fastening wine continued until 1970s when it was replaced by binding with long wires

(Source: Courtesy of B. Chovan)

Along with the Small-Carpathian region, the Požitavie is among the country’s traditional wine growing regions. Here, monasteries pursued wine-growing in Middle Ages; and all viticulturists had to pay taxes, a tithe of one-tenth the harvest. The person authorised to collect this tax was called a dežmár.

As tithe represented a considerable sum for the villagers, they tried to avoid paying it. In practice, this meant that they picked the grapes and processes them before the dežmár came.

Then, they hid barrels of wine in pits dug in fields or somewhere on their property. Of course, the lords knew about such evasions, and as early as 1500, the regional council issued a law that stipulated that instead of taxing wine, grapes should be counted and collected already during the harvest.

A bad blow for local viticulture were the Ottoman wars as enemy armies frequently made it to Požitavie. Vineyards were plundered and those that survived were taxed by the Ottomans.

After the Ottoman wars, a law became valid which stipulated that whoever planted vineyard, did not have to pay tax for several years. This is probably the only explanation for that fact that in 1715, big areas of brand new vineyards appeared above the village of Čifáre. Tax dodging is as old as viticulture itself.          

 

By Branislav Chovan

 

Topic: History talks


Top stories

Sagan rewrites history Video

Cyclist Peter Sagan becomes the first man to win three consecutive world championships.

When the state can’t keep a secret

A selective leak has tarnished President Kiska’s reputation. But he must continue to speak out about corruption.

President Andrej Kiska

Blog: Why did I come here?

A group of teachers and students from the Bratislava-based school gathered to support their friend, colleague, and fellow foreigner, as she had already tried four times just to get in the door of the foreign police.

Queue in front of the foreigners' police department in Bratislava.

Teachers and scientist support anti-corruption march

They praise the activities of students who may change the current state of corruption.

Organisers of the first student protest, Karolína Farská and Dávid Straka.