EU to take Hungary to court over telecom tax
(PARIS) - The European Commission said Thursday it had decided to take Hungary before the EU's Court of Justice over a special crisis tax it introduced in 2010 on telecommunications operators.
"The Commission considers this tax to be illegal, because EU telecoms rules allow sector-specific charges only to cover the specific costs of regulating the sector, and not to generate additional revenue for the central budget," it said in a statement.
The tax, up to 6.5 percent of gross revenues (excluding value added tax), contributes over 200 million euros ($263 million) per year to the Hungarian budget, the Commission said.
The Commission also said Hungary failed to consult telecoms operators properly before imposing the so-called crisis tax, which also applied to energy and financial firms.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's centre-right government has said the tax "is a special financial contribution payable to improve the budget balance" during the economic crisis.
The government insisted the tax was in conformity with European Union rules and refused to change it after the Commission threatened to take Budapest to the the EU court.
The Hungarian economy ministry said Thursday it was disappointed with the Commission's decision and that the tax is in line with EU rules.
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