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European Union Hungary Tried to Tax Internet-Prime Minister Attacked

Hungary Scraps its Internet Tax After Protesters Attack Prime Minister for Curbing Fundamental Rights

  • Draft bill would have forced service providers to pay 40p tax per GB of data
  • Prime minister said 'people have questioned the rationality' of the measure
  • Critics say move would curb democratic freedoms and hit the poor hardest
  • Protesters took to capital's streets chanting: 'Free Hungary! Free internet!'
Daily Mail UK, 31 October 2014


Hungary today scrapped a planned tax on internet data transfers after protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators over the last week.

A draft tax bill sparked anger across the country after including a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of 150 forints (40 pence) per gigabyte of data traffic.
Critics said the law would not only increase the tax burden but also curb fundamental democratic rights and freedoms.
But Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been widely accused of adopting anti-democratic policies, today shelved the proposals because 'people have questioned the rationality' of the measure.

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Thousands of Hungarians lift their mobile phones in protest at plans to impose a tax on internet data transfers




Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, which has been widely accused of adopting anti-democratic policies, first unveiled plans for the new tax last week in the draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament


He said the government will hold a national consultation from mid-January about regulating and taxing the Internet and reconsider the matter next year.
Mr Orban also said Hungary would stick to its plan to offer broadband Internet access to every household by 2020.

The volte-face came after tens of thousands of Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest over the last week in protest at the new law.
Mr Orban's government first unveiled plans for the new tax last week in the draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament, though it would allow companies to offset corporate income tax against the new levy.
One rally on Sunday was organised by a Facebook group which has over 210,000 supporters.





The draft tax bill contains a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of 150 forints (40 pence) per gigabyte of data traffic, though it would also let companies offset corporate income tax against the new levy




The protesters, which some local websites estimated as numbering over 10,000, gathered in front of the Economy Ministry chanting: 'Free Hungary! Free internet!'



The protesters, which some local websites estimated as numbering over 10,000, gathered in front of the Economy Ministry chanting: 'Free Hungary! Free internet!'
The organisers of '100,000 against the Internettax' said in a press release: 'The move... follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe.

'The measure would impede equal access to the internet, deepening the digital divide between Hungary's lower economic groups, and limiting internet access for cash-poor schools and universities,' they added.
At one point, protesters held up their mobile phones, lighting up the square in front of the ministry.
Then they walked to the city's historic Heroes Square.
Some of them also went to the nearby headquarters of the ruling Fidesz party and threw outdated computer parts at the building, breaking some windows, local Internet website Index.hu reported.





Campaigners say the new tax would curb fundamental democratic rights and freedoms in Hungary





Some protesters went to the nearby headquarters of the ruling Fidesz party and threw outdated computer parts at the building, breaking some windows



The organisers gave the government 48 hours to withdraw the tax legislation and said there would be a fresh protest on Tuesday if this does not happen.
Fidesz said in a statement on Sunday that on Monday it would submit an amendment to the legislation in parliament, which would set a maximum level on the tax payable by individuals.
It said monthly payments would be capped at 700 forints and internet providers would pay the tax.

But some protesters said the new tax was an epitome of the government's mistaken economic policies.
'This would be a double tax on us, as I have already paid a sky-high VAT when I bought the gadgets, computer and router,' said Attila Sos, 43, who came to the protest with his family.





Protesters say the new tax was an epitome of the government's mistaken economic policies





A woman sits in protest in front of a line of riot police outside the headquarters of the FIDESZ party governor




The rally on Sunday was organised by a Facebook group, which has over 210,000 supporters



'This is a good occasion for a lot of people to come here to show that they are discontent with the government's tax and economic policies. This was only the icing on the cake.'
'The Internet connects people and it should not be limited,' said Krisztina Nagy, 21, who wants to be a Web programmer, and fears that companies would push the costs of the new tax onto customers.

Orban's government has in recent years imposed special taxes on the banking, retail and energy sectors as well as on telecommunications providers to keep the budget deficit in check, jeopardising profits in some sectors of the economy and unnerving international investors.

At the same time, it has cut personal income taxes.


Thousands of Hungarians Protest Against Internet Tax

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