Hungarians Protest Tax Overhaul Amid Incoming National Energy Emergency

For the second day in a row on Wednesday, demonstrators in Hungary’s capital blocked major thoroughfares in protest of tax reform that the country’s right-wing ruling party pushed through this week.

Independent business owners impacted by the new regulations, who were among the several thousand protesters, gathered at a major area next to Hungary’s parliament to voice their opposition to a bill that many believe would result in huge tax increases. 

The tax reform measure was enacted on Tuesday.

The nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban government’s proposal to raise the tax rate for hundreds of thousands of small enterprises was approved on Tuesday despite an hours-long bridge blockade in Budapest.

According to estimates, up to 500,000 workers use the KATA tax system in Hungary.

According to the government of Hungary, numerous businesses have abused the system by using contractors instead of employees, robbing the nation’s budget of between 250 and 300 billion Hungarian forints ($609 million to $732 million) in annual tax revenue.

The demonstration on Wednesday started outside the legislature before marching through the heart of Budapest and momentarily closing major intersections and a second bridge over the Danube. 

With inflation at a two-decade high, the forint at record lows, and European Union finances in limbo due to a dispute over democratic principles, Orban was facing his hardest struggle since winning re-election in April.

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