[RTS] Citizens and businesses pay more than 2,000 different taxes and fee

In Serbia, there are more than 2,000 national and local taxes and fees paid by citizens and businesses. Dušan Vasiljević, Director of the Competitiveness and Investment Department at NALED, told RTS that not all of these non-tax charges are entirely justified, and often, you have to pay two fees for the same administrative action. Therefore, he emphasizes the need for reform and the introduction of a unified database of non-tax charges.

Vasiljević mentions that there are 1,200 non-tax charges at the national level alone, but there are also local and provincial taxes. These are regulated by 500 different laws and bylaws, creating a complex system that businesses must navigate just to comply with their tax obligations. Including local and provincial levels, the total number of taxes and fees likely exceeds 2,000.

He points out that not all taxes and fees are fully justified or accurately calculated to reflect the costs incurred by government services. Some are parafiscal charges, creating significant financial burdens, especially for businesses that pay the majority of these non-tax charges. Additionally, many of these fees are administratively burdensome even if they are financially insignificant.

For example, Vasiljević explains that businesses often have to pay two fees for a single administrative action—one for submitting a request and another for issuing a decision—which he deems unnecessary in most cases.

However, some charges are substantial and justified, such as fees for using highways or natural resources. He stresses that while not all taxes and fees should be eliminated, it's essential to distinguish which are legitimate and which need reform.

One of the most common complaints from businesses is the business signage tax (firmarina). Despite reforms, it remains a frequent issue, particularly for larger businesses and those operating in multiple local government units due to inconsistent implementation.

NALED has long advocated for the creation of a unified database of non-tax charges to enhance transparency and predictability for businesses and citizens. This would allow them to find all applicable taxes and fees in one place, which would be a significant improvement.

You can watch view the full interview here.

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