Romanian Reactions to the Fiscal Revolution
In this article, we focus on the perceptions regarding the changes in the Fiscal Code, or the so-called "Fiscal Revolution". Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 500 respondents, with a plus or minus 4% margin of error. The survey was active between 14 and 15 of November 2017. Our findings are presented below. The findings have been written in collaboration with Tania Chilin, researcher at the Median Research Centre in Bucharest.
The Government Emergency Ordinance no. 79/2017, published in the Romanian Official Gazette no. 885/10.11.2017, brings major changes to the Romanian Fiscal Code. Some of the most controversial amendments include the transfer of social contributions from employers to employees (namely 35% which represent health and unemployment insurance) and the reduction of the income tax from 16% to 10%. The Ordinance will be in place starting 1st of January 2018.
The new fiscal stipulations were criticized both by employers and trade unions alike, but also by opposition parties and the President, mayors, journalists, and citizens. platform Almost 1.200 people protested in front of the Government the day the Government adopted the Ordinance.
In order for employees not to feel the transfer of social contributions (be them reduced from 39.25% to 35%), firstly their gross wages should increase by 22.75%. Also, there are some categories of employees who will experience a maximum impact on behalf of the transfer of social contributions. Simply because through the new amendments of the Fiscal Code, they will be exempted from the income tax, a 22.75% decrease in revenues will not be partially offset by the 16% to 10% income reduction. Most affected categories of employees include 400.000 freelancers (authorized individuals) and 2.1 million self-employed. They are the result of the labor force’s workforce flexibility adopted by the Government since 2011 and include: IT professionals, accountants, installers, electricians, taxi drivers, journalists and bloggers, designers, advertisers, actors, directors, stage designers etc.
More information regarding some of the implications that the changes in the Fiscal Code have can be found here.
Respondents awareness for the changes made by the Government regarding the Fiscal Code is very high: 90.0% said they heard about it, while only 10% said they didn’t.
Asked where did they hear about the changes regarding the Fiscal Code and other measures the Government will undertake from January 2018, most respondents watched TV, and to some degree got informed from the internet including news sites and blogs, as well as social networks. Only a few have heard about these changes from the radio and from work. This shows that perhaps people didn’t discuss the implications so much with their co-workers or bosses.
Regarding perceptions of transparency of Governmental policymaking, most respondents consider that the new stipulations haven’t been sufficiently well explained by those who advanced the bill. Thus, over 50% consider that the changes weren’t explained at all or were clarified to a very low degree by politicians and governors. On the other hand, people consider that journalists have made greater efforts to help the public understand what these measures consist of. In this sense, 58% of the respondents agree that journalists have explained to a great and very great extent the changes in the Fiscal Code.
However, despite the efforts made by journalists to clear up how the new provisions will impact the public, less than half of respondents (45%) believe they understood to a great and a very great degree the changes adopted by the Ordinance amending the Tax Code. Moreover, there were no significant differences in the perceived level of trust comprehension of these measures between employees in the public sector and those in the private sector. The findings indicate the need for further clarification of some aspects regarding the adopted measures of the Fiscal Code, so to better inform the public, a greater openness to social dialogue and an increase in the quality of public debates on this subject.
Differences regarding the perceived impact of the changes in the Fiscal Code on the societal and personal level are similar. However, respondents perceive that the changes on the societal level will be experienced to a great and very great degree (81%) in comparison to those at the personal level (65.4%). This shows that the level of concern between the respondents is high, particularly at the general level.
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