The finalists for the 2018 Europe Liberty Award are Lipa, Croatian Taxpayers Association (Croatia), for its successful campaign against the introduction of property taxes; Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad (Fundalib, Spain), for its Regional Tax Competitiveness Index; and Ukrainian Economics Freedom Foundation (UEFF, Ukraine), for its tax reform project.
Lipa, Croatian Taxpayers Association (Croatia)
Lipa’s campaign against the introduction of property taxes in Croatia worked against the country's tax burden, which is among the highest in the EU. The project launched a petition in April 2017 that gathered signatures and emails to foster further interaction with its supporters. The petition was mentioned by many national major media outlets, and over 140,000 signatures were gathered online with 6,000 gathered offline, making it the second most successful online initiative in the history of Croatian democracy.
After the peak of the campaign in August 2017, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković removed his support from the property tax law and a decision to abandon the new tax was made in January 2018.
"Stopping the real estate tax in Croatia was a huge success for civil society; it was the first time ever that citizens prevented the government from raising the tax overall burden in the country,” said Davor Huić, president of Lipa. “But perhaps even more importantly, we have created a popular climate in which it is politically very difficult, if not outright impossible, to increase the level of taxation in Croatia."
Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad (Fundalib, Spain)
In November of last year, Fundalib published its Regional Tax Competitiveness Index (IACF) ranking all of the Spain’s seventeen regions’ tax competitiveness. The index was completed with the help of Spain’s Taxpayers Union (Unión de Contribuyentes) and picked up coverage in over 70 news outlets, encouraging individuals and businesses to push for better taxation policies within their regions.
“For the first time in Spain, our Regional Tax Competitiveness Index showed in 2017 that tax competition among the country's regions does exist,” said Roxana Nicula, president of Fundalib. “The Index is a useful tool to push for less taxes and a higher tax competitiveness in each of the seventeen regions. It has been very much spoken about by politicians in several regional parliaments. In the case of Guipuzcoa – one of the three Basque provinces with a devolved tax authority – the Index had an impact in having the Tax Shield re-introduced onto the Wealth Tax, to the benefit of a total population of about seven hundred thousand.”
The IACF compares the rates of 6 types of taxes collected throughout Spain’s various regions including property taxes, income taxes, wealth taxes, inheritance taxes, gas taxes, and region-specific taxes. The scores each region receives indicates its level of attractiveness to individuals and businesses. The index shows how tax competition helps to reduce taxation and that regions with devolved taxation perform the best.
“It is now crucial for us to secure the continued publishing of this Index and to make sure that the second edition will be released in the last quarter of 2018,” Nicula continued. “This will for the first time allow [us to track] each region's progress in terms of tax competitiveness and keep up the pressure on politicians to keep their regional taxes comparatively low, or decrease them.”
Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation (UEFF, Ukraine)
UEFF gathered proposals from several professional associations and composed a comprehensive tax reform proposal for the Ukrainian tax code. All of the propositions were supported by the Ukrainian Parliament and were included in the annual budget bill. This guaranteed their approval, and thus reform was implemented.
"We managed to implement 11 significant changes to Ukrainian Tax Code that will save taxpayers at least $125 million annually and eliminate corruption worth at least $20 million,” said Maryan Zablotskyy, director of UEFF. “Capital flows such as dividends and syndicated loans are now taxed less, it has become much easier to pay local taxes and we ensured more fair competition in excise duties products. That would not have been possible without Atlas Network – who sponsored part of the project, for which we are very grateful."
Atlas Network selects winners for the Regional Liberty Awards from each of the following world regions: Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East & North Africa. The 2018 Europe Liberty Award will be awarded during the 2018 Europe Liberty Forum on May 28-29, 2018, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The winner will receive USD$3,000 and each runner-up will receive USD$1,000.