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Tax Authority scandal is going nowhere

November 29th, 2013

Left-wing commentators agree that it is unlikely that the public will ever get to the bottom ofthe alleged tax fraud case. While one commentary writes the alleged misconduct of the Tax Authority does not bother Fidesz voters, the other opposition commentator says the whistleblower botched his revelation and the issue will end in a Parliamentary catfight.

After a Tax Authority official went to the press with allegations that the Authority covers up large-scale VAT fraud schemes, and the Authority declared there was no misconduct, Jobbik and LMP called for a Parliamentary investigation. The Socialists, after some hesitation, backed up the plan but Fidesz did not show up at the committee meeting, and said the allegations are being investigated by the State Prosecutor’s Office, and the opposition intends to use them in Parliament for merely political purposes. A former official alleged that some of the greatest tax contributors (including large international retail chains)  also buy products from enterprises that use false invoices to detract VAT, and leniency on the part of the Authority started when a new management was appointed under the social-liberal government in 2007 (See BudaPost November 23)

Péter Pető in his sarcastic Népszabadság comment describes Fidesz as the party that is more willing to punish condo representatives that announce utility price savings in a typeface other than Arial (as Fidesz MP Szilárd Németh proposed in his bill, imposing an obligation on the representatives of condominia to notify all tenants and owners of utility price savings) than businesses that deprive the Hungarian state of billions of tax forints. He does not explicitly endorse the claims by the former tax authority official, but accuses the government of not taking tax fraud seriously, while it considers while utility bill formats “as matters of state”. He also writes that several Fidesz leaders (among them deputy prime minister János Lázár and floor leader Antal Rogán) “knew of the scheme” (The former said he had received an anonymous letter containing only general accusations without any concrete data, while the latter told the press that the information he had received was just as enigmatic as the version known to the public.)  Finally, Pető accuses Fidesz of shamelessly representing private interests and intends to keep voters in the dark.  (Deliberations in parliamentary committees are open to the press, unless the agenda covers state or private secrets – tax figures, for instance.)

In Népszava, Richárd Molnár, on the other hand, says whistleblower András Horváth miscalculated his revelations. Instead of collecting documents that substantiate his claims, he notified leading Fidesz politicians before turning to the press, and now says the documents are to be found in Tax Authority filing cabinets. It is understandable if an honest civil servant turns to his superiors, Molnár says, but Edward Snowden did not go to Obama with his findings first. The result: LMP and Jobbik have their echo-chamber to throw mud at Fidesz and MSZP in the committee but the case will be perceived as yet another catfight, rather than the immense tax fraud that should bring a government down.


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