Online workers in Serbia continue protest against unscrupulous taxation 

The Serbian tax administration has asked online workers who earn income from abroad to pay taxes and interest contributions for the past five years. A majority of these online workers are freelancers, including students and youth distressed by the COVID-19 crisis

February 15, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Online workers protest-Serbia
Protest of the Association of Internet Workers. (Photo: Marko Miletić / Mašina)

Online workers across Serbia continue their protest against the taxation imposed on their payments from abroad. On February 13, Saturday, the Association of Internet Workers (URI) started its country-wide ‘Path of Solidarity’ campaign in the city of Novi Sad, where online workers convened to discuss their concerns regarding the taxation. This was after the failure of last week’s talks between the government authorities and the URI. Meetings of online workers are also likely to take place in the cities of Zrenjanin, Kragujevac, Nis, Zajecar, Aleksinac and Belgrade in the coming days. 

The Serbian tax administration had in October last year demanded that online workers who earn income from abroad pay retroactive taxes and interest contributions for the past five years. Masina reported that the majority of online workers are freelancers, mainly students and young people, trying to finance their education and supplement their family incomes. 

In response to the demand from the tax authorities, online workers formed the URI and started mobilizing. On January 16, thousands of online workers held a protest in front of the National Assembly of Serbia. 

The URI maintains that they are not against paying taxes but oppose the proposals made by the government during the talks. They have demanded “a sustainable, transparent and precise tax-legal framework for workers on the Internet.”

In an online survey conducted by the URI on February 9, 2892 of the 2927 respondents said that they are not ready to accept the government’s proposal for taxation. The URI had earlier stated that “through the actions of the Tax Administration, the state endangered the existence and future of tens of thousands of families of workers on the Internet. In the middle of a pandemic, they want to take up to 80% of everything we have earned in the past 5 years. We are just one of many affected by the crisis and injustice.”

The Party of the Radical Left (PRL) in Serbia has expressed solidarity with the online workers and stated that “these kind of initiatives by the tax authorities are nothing but an attempt to transfer the burden of the economic and health crisis to the poorest layers of society, while capitalists will be allowed to enrich themselves even more.”