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Toomas Hendrik Ilves: Taxation could be raised given current situation

Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Source: Kairit Leibold / ERR

In the present-day scenario where war is raging in Europe and Estonia's security needs to be bolstered, a hike in taxation ought to take place, former president of Estonian Toomas Hendrik Ilves says.

Speaking to investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress in a lengthy interview, Ilves said: "Hello!... we are the only country in Europe which lacks a car tax, yet now comes this clamor that, there is no end or limit in sight."

"But this is once again an example of retrenchment. Taxation and levels of taxation which have been comprehensible and justifiable for the last 20 years are no longer sufficient," he went on in the interview, suggesting the new taxation levels could be referred to as a "war tax" (Estonian: Sõjamaks).

"We need funds to defend the nation, we need funds to build a state which has an efficient infrastructure; we have a war going on on our doorstep," the former head of state, who also served as Estonia's foreign minister around the turn of the millennium, went on.

In practical terms, a 24-percent personal income tax rate would be the minimum requirement, he added.

"It's great that we have put 3 percent of our GDP towards national defense [spending]. However, more is required. During the Cold War, defense spend in the U.S. was running at up to 10 percent, while in [West] Germany in the 1980s, defense costs were at 4 percent of GDP. Why? Because there was a clear and present danger," Ilves said.

The issue also ties in, as Ilves sees it, with apparent signs of an introversion and burying one's head in the sand; an unwillingness to grasp what is happening in the world, on the part of many people in Estonia.

The original Eesti Ekspress piece (link in Estonian) is here.ta

Toomas Hendrik Ilves also appeared in a documentary broadcast by Kanal2 on Tuesday.

Born to Estonian parents who were displaced persons following the Soviet occupation of Estonia from 1944, Toomas Hendrik Ilves grew up in the U.S. He relinquished his U.S. citizenship in order to become Estonia's ambassador to Washington in 1993, and was President of Estonia over two consecutive terms, 2006-2016.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

Source: Eesti Ekspress

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