The Lawyers Syndicate arranged a meeting, presided over by its head Sameh Ashour, on Saturday with its sub-unions to discuss the impact of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) Law on the syndicate members and filed lawsuit against the law to the State Council.
The meeting came following several protests arranged across the nation in rejection to the VAT. One of the largest protests was held in front of the Supreme Judicial Council. The protests included a number lawyers and syndicate council members.
During the meeting, the members agreed to postpone any escalatory measures taken against the law until 7 October, after finishing current negotiations held by Ashour with the Tax Authority and Finance Ministry to decide on the lawyers’ exclusion from the VAT Law.
The lawyers protested the VAT, saying that it did not consider the financial status of lawyers or the Egyptian people, as well as it being constitutionally unfair and carrying many flaws.
Lawyer Hamido Gamil explained to Daily News Egypt the unconstitutionality of VAT, saying that it will create a “double tax” situation, as lawyers are already paying taxes on their incomes. With the implementation of VAT, Gamil said they will be charged an extra tax, which will be unaffordable. He also said that protests against VAT are not only for lawyers, but for all the Egyptian people.
Gamil added that, if imposed, VAT would also have an adverse effect on the expenses of legal procedures in many cases, which includes filing appeals, lawsuits, and so forth.
Eissa Abu Eissa, a syndicate council member, said that their protest was peaceful. The lawyer said that the law was not deemed approvable by the syndicate, and all lawyers in attendance were against it, according to independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.
In case the negotiations failed, the syndicate has pledged to take escalatory measures, which was previously decided prior to scheduling of the 7 October deadline, according to a statement published on Ashour’s Facebook page.
The syndicate members also decided to hold continuous meetings to follow up on the latest developments in the issue. It also ordered that sub-unions arrange open seminars for civilians, farmers, and workers to make them aware about the risks and negative impact of VAT on their lives.
Parliament approved the VAT Law on 28 August, with a rate of 13% set for the fiscal year 2016/2017. This rate is expected to increase to 14% next year.
Following VAT’s approval in parliament, food, cigarettes, automobiles, and a number of other products are expected to witness price increases. A number of essential items, such as baby formula, will be excluded from the VAT.
Member of parliament Samir Ghataas previously told Daily News Egypt: ”The financial struggles we are currently facing are the result of international banking practices. Prices [have] already increased by 30% prior to the VAT’s approval, and now it is expected that prices will increase by an additional 30% with the tax’s application.”
The VAT’s approval was met with rejection and criticism by MPs of different political parties, and many Egyptians in general who believe that VAT will cause further poverty and social inequality, especially during the country’s current economic situation.