Shortly after the coronavirus crisis hit the continent, Hungary was among the first to introduce special economic measures aimed at protecting the country’s economy. Similarly, Hungary’s Prime Minister Orbán recognized early on that “[the epidemic] does not only put people’s health at risk, although that’s the most important, but it also threatens the economy.”
In line with the PM’s view of focusing on the protection of jobs, the government was quick to adopt a list of measures, including much-needed tax exemptions for the hardest-hit sectors of the economy and a moratorium on all loan repayments until the end of this year, a unique measure that affects 7.7 million loan contracts and has already saved Hungarians nearly HUF 3.6 trillion (EUR 10.3bn).
While the above programs received good publicity, media outlets have barely mentioned that at the start of the crisis, the government also explicitly instructed Hungary’s tax authority to exercise a fair degree of leniency in relation to applications made for tax discounts during the pandemic. As Norbert Izer, state secretary at the Ministry of Finance, revealed at a press conference on Sunday, these tax discounts have so far saved Hungarian families and businesses more than HUF 62 billion.
Izer said that between March 11 and June 19, the tax authority granted three out of every four requests, or 8,700 out of 11,700, applications, from those asking for an easing of their tax burden. He noted that under this measure, tax payments could be reduced by a maximum of HUF 5 million.
“Right now, the tax authority is working on 1,500 applications, with a total value of HUF 7.5 billion,” the state secretary said, adding that they expect an increase in the number of submissions over the next four weeks, as the application process is simple and free and results can be expected within 15 days.
To put this in perspective, even before the current tax discounts, Hungary had one of the most preferential tax discount regimes in the European Union. In most member states, not even families can apply for tax reductions, Izer explained. “In Hungary, this is not only an option for individuals, but also for businesses. The government has thus expanded its already existing spectrum of tax benefits in Hungary with this new, special and very simple measure that was put in place particularly due to the coronavirus epidemic,” the state secretary said.