HAVE RECEIPT, WILL DANCE THE HORO

by Stamen Manolov

One agency of the state that without any doubt has improved its functions under Boyko Borisov is Bulgaria's Inland Revenue service. Agents are now being sent, sometimes clandestinely, to make probes into anyone's financial activities – for years back.

At the time of writing, the Inland Revenue did not appear to be particularly perturbed by the purchases of luxury flats in Sofia by senior GERB functionaries. However, it sped up its investigations of Lozan Panov, the chairman of the Supreme Court of Cassation, who has often been critical of GERB and has repeatedly warned of the oncoming autocracy in Bulgaria.

Out of Sofia, the Inland Revenue is very active as well. In March, undercover taxmen and women were sent to Markovo, a village near Plovdiv. Pretending they were interested in folk dances, they joined a group of mainly elderly Bulgarians, and trotted the Horo for about two hours. After the performance, the coach asked for donations of 1.50 leva (about £0.65, $0.86) from each participant. The undercover agents paid up and were quick to require a receipt. When it emerged the coach had no cash terminal required by law to be connected to the Inland Revenue in real time, the agents unmasked themselves and threatened investigations and fines.

The Markovo incident was quick to be reported by the media. Vladislav Goranov, GERB's finance minister, responded that sometimes his agents were ordered to perform even exotic duties to ensure all taxes due were promptly collected. He quoted one example dating back to last summer when undercover taxmen were sent on a luxury cruise ship to make sure all fiscal transactions onboard were properly documented. They found themselves with their knickers down, literally, as it emerged the cruise was meant for naturists. Some media clarified that the cruise was in fact a "private gay party." The Inland Revenue has so far not responded to enquiries about the cost of the covert cruise operation.

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