It has been clear for some time that Hungary is in breach of EU law by not allowing the refunding of VAT on bad debts. The fact that cases of Hungarian taxpayers have now been brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has forced Hungarian lawmakers to move on the issue. While the package of tax amendments submitted last week provides an opportunity to reclaim such VAT, in certain cases – due to the planned administrative restrictions – it will still only be possible to enjoy this right with reference to EU law.
“It’s such a good deal that it won’t last for long”, cried hundreds of business owners in response to the suggestions of setting up an ESOP. However, a bill recently adopted by the Parliament suggests that if a company uses this type of employee benefits scheme for its intended purpose, they should be able to count on it in the long term as well.
Our traditional survey again looks at how many types of taxes there are in Hungary. The number of Hungarian taxes has fallen by one again this year, so we’ve counted 58 this time. The decrease, however, is of a technical nature only, while at the same time we continue to live with taxes such as the seemingly ineradicable charge payable on household employees or the newly introduced poster tax.
New laws taking effect on 1 January next year will transform the tax audit procedure and the way tax lawsuits unfold. While some of the amendments are business-friendly, they also conceal a number of traps that are clearly detrimental to taxpayers’ interests. For example, the rights of taxpayers to defend themselves against the tax authority, and to make use of experts, will be compromised.
There is no use of winning a lawsuit against the tax authority if the enterprise goes bankrupt before the judgement is rendered. And such an outcome is by no means uncommon, as under the current laws the tax authority can initiate enforcement proceedings against a business while the suit is still in progress. What’s more, experience shows that the tax authority doesn’t shy away from enforcement even in the absence of the solid legal grounds for pursuing that route.
In our traditional beginning-of-year review, we again counted the number of taxes levied in Hungary today. This time we got 59. Although the number of taxes has decreased by one since last year, the scale and structure of the tax system has not changed. In terms of tax revenue generated, VAT continues to top the list, bringing in approximately HUF 3,300 billion in 2016.
Don’t worry! There aren’t any such taxes for the time being. But we do have taxes on tasteless buildings, boat tax, pony tax, telephone mast tax, tractor tax, and even arable land tax – just to mention a few of the municipal taxes that add spice to our everyday lives. We aren’t completely defenceless, however, if the local authorities do try and levy any of these taxes on us.
The law is constantly in flux. While many people may find this intimidating, for us it’s precisely what makes it so exciting. We’d like to share this attitude with businesspeople and managers, and with those who just have an interest in business law, in the form of a regularly updated blog that discusses the latest tax law and commercial law issues in an accessible style. Feel free to send your questions and suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover to firstname.lastname@example.org.