A draft law on the introduction of a culture tax, signed by 84 MPs from several parties, including PSD, PNL, PDL, PP-DD and UDMR, has stirred passions among Romanian intellectuals and in the public opinion. The new tax will be applied to any cultural product in Romania, whether we are talking about books, theatre, films, exhibitions or concerts, and the sums obtained would go to “creators’ unions and organizations.” The culture tax would be applied to every book before it hits the bookstores, on the basis of the same system applied to cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. The Federation of Publishers in Romania (FER), the Association of Show Producers and Organizers (APOSR) and the Union of Phonogram Producers in Romania (UPFR) challenge this measure and have stated they are “fighting” against the “culture tax” which, according to them, will have a negative impact on economic and cultural development.
Draft law 583/2014 was tacitly approved by the Senate on 8 December 2014 and is approaching the final vote within the Lower Chamber, coming to the attention of the representatives of creative industries. FER, APOSR and UPFR, which represent economic agents active in various cultural domains, such as book publishers, music producers, concert and show organizers, have drawn attention to this draft law. According to them, this draft law aims to institute a veritable “tax on culture” for the benefit of some creators’ associations, a tax that will result in a hike in the price of cultural products.
“For the past several years Romania has faced a decline of the market for books and music and such a legislative measure would worsen a situation that currently is far from being at least normal. Introducing such a “tax on culture” would be directly reflected in the end price of the cultural product or service (book, CD, DVD or concert) which will inevitably alienate a large category of potential readers/listeners/spectators, against the backdrop in which the public’s access to culture in Romania is already among the lowest in the European Union,” the representatives of FER, APOSR and UPFR claim, Mediafax informs. According to them, such a supplementary tax exists in no European Union country, which means that only Romanian buyers would be overtaxed and would stand to suffer.
The representatives of the aforementioned bodies have asked for draft law 583/2014 to be cancelled, arguing that it was drafted without bearing in mind the commitments that Romania took at European Union level as part of the “An intelligent regulation” strategy, according to which member states are recommended that any new draft law should be accompanied by good arguments in favour of its timeliness, by an impact assessment that would evaluate its costs for economic operators.