deem 2011 property tax to be unconstitutional
7 February 2014
Just days after the Council of State ruled that the government was
wrong to cut the wages of army officers and policemen last year, the
coalition is facing another legal complication as Supreme Court judges
have ruled that the emergency property tax, introduced in 2011 and
levied through electricity bills, was unconstitutional.
The decision, which was taken by the courtís fourth section after three
judges voted for and two against, is not final. The Supreme Courtís
plenary will have to convene to pass final judgment. This could take
as long as three months.
The justices rejected an appeal by the Finance Ministry against a 2012
first instance court ruling that deemed the tax illegal.
The judges deemed that the tax contravened several articles of the
Constitution, particularly because its charges were based upon the
size of peopleís property and not on their income and ability to pay.
According to the justices, this damaged taxpayersí ability to have
a respectable standard of living.
In 2013, the emergency levy was incorporated into a wider property
tax, so the Supreme Courtís ruling challenges the first two years that
Should the courtís plenary session result in the fourth sectionís verdict
being upheld, this will lead to further legal developments. The Council
of State has already deemed the tax legal, although it ruled last year
that it was unconstitutional for taxpayers to have their electricity
cut off if they did not pay the tax. This means that a Supreme Special
Court would have to sit to adjudicate on the judgesí rulings and give
a final verdict.