Bulgarian President Roumen Radev asked the Constitutional Court to strike down a set of amendments to the country’s Corporate Tax Act, arguing that they ran contrary to the country’s constitution and international treaties, the president’s office said on November 27.
One provision that Radev was challenging in court was the changes to the operation of the Customs Agency, where employees could be sacked with no prior notice by the agency’s head, without the option of a judicial appeal, which breached the constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights.
The changes would eliminate job stability and create the conditions for political dependencies, which breached the constitutional provision that state employees shall be politically neutral, Radev said.
Additionally, the provision that customs officials could be fired “at the discretion” of the agency head could make such employees subject to arbitrary termination of employment, which breached the principle of the rule of law.
The second provision challenged by Radev was the higher tax rate on properties in resort areas, arguing that it mixed up the income and property taxes in a way that was constitutionally unacceptable.
Furthermore, because the list of resort areas was in the purview of the Government, it would give the Cabinet a direct role in setting tax rates, whereas the constitution only allowed Parliament to set taxes, Radev said.
The Constitutional Court will now have to decide whether the challenge is admissible and, if so, appoint a rapporteur judge for the case. Given the usual length of Constitutional Court cases, a final ruling would be expected in the second half of next year.
Radev’s earlier veto covered two other changes to the law, passed as part of the 2019 Budget process, which he did not challenge at the Constitutional Court – a changed framework for calculating annual car taxes, which was expected to increase the tax on older, more polluting vehicles, as well as the postponement of a deadline for reforming the framework used to calculate the household rubbish tax.
This is the second constitutional court referral made by Radev in recent months, following a formal complaint against amendments to the country’s Administrative Procedure Code, lodged in September. He has also used his veto seven times so far this year, with Parliament overturning all but one.
(Roumen Radev photo: president.bg)