All of Estonia's main newspapers have published a single-page protest against the government coalition led by Kaja Kallas' decision to increase the value-added tax on press publications.
On a black background, an advertisement with the image of Reform Party leader and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas asks, "Kaja Kallas, are you really against facts, dialogue and democracy?"
Further down the protest blasts the VAT hike in four paragraphs.
It is unclear who initiated the decision to increase the VAT, which came as a surprise from coalition parties. This week, despite active lobbying by publications and coordinated vehement criticism, it was nevertheless approved by the legislature.
The government and Kallas herself have defended the increase in the press' value-added tax by citing the need to improve Estonia's security and fiscal balance across all sectors. This tax increase is projected to generate an additional three to four million euros for the government.
Lauri Hussar, the leader of Eesti 200, the president of the Estonian parliament and a former journalist, has recently commented on the increase of the value-added tax on journalism from 5 to 9 percent from the coalition side.
According to Hussar, Eesti 200 thought that the VAT for hotel stays should not increase to 22 percent, so a compromise was required to allow for a lower increase. Then it was time for the press' VAT increase.
According to Hussar, the press will cope with the hike.
"Five years ago, when I was chair of the board of the Estonian Newspaper Association (EALL) and editor-in-chief of Postimees, digital subscriptions were subject to a 20 percent VAT rate. Thus, this tax on media publications was substantially higher in the recent past. I therefore believe that this 9 percent will not impact Estonian journalism to the extent that it will be unable to adjust. I understand that every cent is important, but in this case, we reached a compromise after a great deal of deliberation," he said.
The tax increase could result in the layoff of up to 100 journalists, according to newspapers.
Editor: Kristina Kersa