Fear of Magic Halts Tax Law

September 13, 2010 Taxation in Romania

The Fortune TellerThe fear of reprimands from witches and fortune tellers has reportedly halted the passing of new tax rules in Romania.

Last week the Romanian Senate rejected a proposal to instate a new tax on witches and fortune tellers, as politicians apparently feared a backlash of curses. Under the initial proposal, individuals who identify themselves as witches and fortune tellers would be required to keep accurate receipts of all services provided and incomes made, whereupon they would be levied with the country’s typical income tax rates. Additionally, the law would require practitioners to hold some liability for their predictions and provided services. The legislation was originally drafted by Alin Popoviciu and Cristi Dugulescu of the country’s ruling Democratic Liberal Party, in an effort to raise extra revenues for the country’s suffering economy.

Romania’s political and social landscape has had a longstanding undertone of reverence and belief in the potential powers of witches. In January Mircea Geoana, presidential candidate for the national elections, asserted that a “negative energy attack” was responsible for his narrow re-election loss. Witchcraft was officially legalized in Romania in 2006, when precedent was set by a woman registering a company specifically dealing with “astrology and contacts with the spiritual world.”

Since the tax’s rejection Alin Popoviciu has come out to claim that politicians were frightened of potential backlash from the country’s witches and supernatural practitioners. However Maria Campina, a well-known self-identified witch in Romania, has offered a more practical reason, saying that “it would be difficult to tax the thousands of fortune tellers and witches in the country. They made erratic sums of money, and receipts would be difficult to keep,” leading to administrative and enforcement difficulties. Local political analysts now expect Alin Popoviciu and Cristi Dugulescu to redraft the legislation in a second attempt to raise tax revenues.

The failed “witch tax” was proposed in order to lessen the severity of Romania’s current economic woes. In 2009 the national GDP contracted by 7.1 percent, and the Government was forced to negotiate a EUR 20 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund in order to cover state wages and pension payments. In 2010 all public salaries were slashed by an extraordinary 25 percent, and the value-added tax rate was hiked by 5 percent, to a new rate of 24 percent.

Photo by aussiegall