Former top Reform members critical of PM's explanation for no tax debate

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Meelis Atonen.
Meelis Atonen. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Martin Kukk, former secretary general of elections winner the Reform Party, and Meelis Atonen, one of Reform's founding members, are critical of party leader Kaja Kallas' argument that the Constitution prohibits referendums on tax matters, which is why no tax debate was held prior to the 2023 elections.

"The point that we could not have a tax debate because the Constitution does not allow referendums on tax matters is thin. In addition to politicians, voters and the press should also be more demanding in terms of plans to cover expenditure," Kukk wrote on social media.

He suggested that perhaps it would have been honest to propose a national defense tax at elections. The Social Democratic Party (SDE) was the only one to do that prior to elections.

Kukk also commented on the planned VAT and income tax hikes of 2 percentage points each.

"Hiking VAT by 2 points is in no way sensible and will first and foremost impact less fortunate people," Kukk wrote.

"Income tax changes are sensible as they will restore a simple flat tax system where the total tax burden will not change much if we factor in returning to a universal basic exemption."

Martin Kukk is a former Reform Party secretary general and deputy whip. He left the Riigikogu for the private sector in 2016. Kukk remains a member of the Reform Party.

Reform's founding member Meelis Atonen was even more critical when he said that the Constitution does not obligate party leaders to lie to voters. "Please at least keep quiet. The Constitution did not force you to lie about the tax burden remaining the same in your program. Do not make fools of yourselves by lying again. The lies and prevarication is what bothers me the most," Atonen wrote on social media.

"Referring to the Constitution to try and cover your bases – it does not look good," Atonen added.

PM and Reform Party head Kaja Kallas told ERR in an interview that her October promise for taxes to remain unchanged concerned the previous Reform-Isamaa-SDE government and the 2023 state budget. Asked why the elections campaign made scant mention of taxes, Kallas suggested that the Estonian Constitution prohibits putting tax questions up for referendum on the "Vikerhommik" radio show.

The article was updated to add comments by Meelis Atonen.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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