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

Kiska will appoint new government on Thursday

The president reportedly asked for the dismissal of current Police Corps president; the interior minister nominee is ready to act.

Peter Pellegrini (l) and President Andrej Kiska (r)

Pellegrini – Smer’s crown prince or Fico’s puppet?

Peter Pellegrini will be appointed prime minister. These are the 10 notable moments in his political career.

Peter Pellegrini

Blog: The promise we must make

While covering this month’s protests in Bratislava, I had a feeling of déjà vu. They reminded me of last year’s protests in Romania.

Dozens of thousands people attended the protest rally in Bratislava on March 9.

People will protest in streets again on March 23

The organisers of the gatherings met with the president, stressing the need to have an independent interior minister.

Andrej Kiska met with the representatives of the For a Decent Slovakia initiative.