Hungary Mulls Unprecedented Internet Tax

World » EU | October 24, 2014, Friday // 16:28
Bulgaria: Hungary Mulls Unprecedented Internet Tax Charging the Internet is the latest proposal after a number of taxes sparking controversy among some Hungarians, but also in the EU, were introduced in the past years. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Hungary could become the world's first country to levy usage of the Internet after its Economy Minister Mih?ly Varga proposed the move on Wednesday.

A fee of HUF 150 (EUR 0.48) will be imposed on providers for each 1GB of Internet data if the plans are approved.

The measure is not envisaged to affect the consumer, but could possibly push providers to announce bill hikes.

EU officials promptly responded, with EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes warning against a negative impact on the country's digital economy and increasing prices for consumers.

Vargas however explained that the tax was similar to that paid for phone calls and text messages that entered into force after a government decision in 2011, according to German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Another official later added telecom services had not become more expensive after Budapest opted to charged them in 2012.

Reacting to negative comments on social media, Fidesz, the governing party of Prime Minister Viktor Orb?n, announced a cap would be imposed on household taxes for Internet amounting to HUF 700 (EUR 2.27) on a monthly basis.

Authorities hope to collect at least HUF 20 B (EUR 65 M) in revenues in 2015 if the tax is introduced.

The opposition however believes levying the Internet would make Hungarians return to the 1990s in terms of Internet accessibility.

A number of controversial fees and taxes have been passed by Hungary's Fidesz-dominated Parliament, purportedly aimed at boosting public finances and eradicating poverty.

Taxes on banks, but also on media advertisement (the latter mostly affecting foreign-owned RTL Klub) have recently provoked a public outcry.

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Tags: Viktor Orban, Hungary, Internet, tax, Fidesz, RTL Klub, Neelie Kroes, Mih?ly Varga

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