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SUPPORT CIVIL SOLIDARITY AND EXEMPT TAXES ON ALL GOODS AND SERVICES UTILIZED FOR EMERGENCY SUPPORT OF EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
Dear Prime Minister,
We are sending you this open letter as we did not receive a response to the inquiry sent by SOLIDARNA Foundation and our partner, Regional Foundation for Local Development ZAMAH to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy and the Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights regarding the implementation of a policy of tax exemption status for donations of goods and services utilized for emergency support of earthquake victims in the area of Petrinja and Sisak-Moslavina County. We note that you did not express a clear position in your presentation during the Current Hour in the Croatian Parliament, either.
We are concerned that the Ministry of Finance, and therefore the Government, is avoiding the adoption of a protocol for the management of humanitarian aid, which would exempt all purchases of goods and services for emergency care of victims from taxes in a time of natural disaster.
As the recent Amendment to the Ordinance on the Implementation of the General Tax Law regarding donations for post-earthquake assistance in Petrinja and SMŽ refers exclusively to business entities that donate their own goods or services but not to all other donors, nor to the victims themselves, in practice this means that neither local governments nor non-profit organizations (foundations, associations) are exempt from paying taxes on goods (for example containers) or services (such as transport and installation) that must be undertaken so that people who are affected by the earthquake can be taken care of, as part of their crisis support programs based on citizen’s donations. In addition, victims of the earthquake themselves are not exempt from paying taxes. Many of them are spending their savings and taking out loans to secure a temporary container or mobile home for themselves, and thus relieving state in this demanding phase of mass emergency care.
Simple praises of citizen solidarity for this tragedy caused by the devastating earthquake in a poor region, in the middle of winter and amidst the pandemic, is not enough. Every container, house, pair of rubber boots, piece of construction material, or anything else that was necessary in providing first aid, financed by donations of citizens directly or through humanitarian organizations, religious communities, associations and foundations represent huge savings for the state, that are immediately visible in the budget of the Republic of Croatia and institutions, which are spared the obligations that would otherwise be required by their job description.
It is crucial that the state does not burden such earmarked spending by charging additional taxes to anyone in the solidarity chain – from buyers of goods and services assisting in times of crisis care – from the victims themselves, to all donors. It is inappropriate for the state, which should be entirely responsible for taking care of the victims, which has the obligation, to collect funds by collecting taxes from those who reacted urgently by helping themselves and those in need.
We therefore demand that an urgent decision be made regarding the exemption from taxes for all earthquake victims who are taking care of themselves, as well as for organizations that are performing humanitarian activities. This is a minimally reasonable decision. It is justified and necessary to exempt individuals or groups involved in humanitarian aid from paying taxes, with the attachment of the Statement of Purpose of Procurement of Goods or Services and the Statement of End User on acceptance.
By making such a decision, significantly more goods and services would reach the victims and thus provide significant aid in this tragic situation they found themselves in, due to the natural disaster whose consequences they suffer. Such a decisive and unambiguous statement of solidarity of the Government of the Republic of Croatia with donors and injured citizens would represent a significant contribution to the restoration of trust in government institutions.
SOLIDARNA – Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity
ZAMAH – Regional Foundation for Local development