Portugal’s civil society has found a curious way to show its frustration with austerity measures. Citizens are giving the Prime Minister’s personal tax number when filling out legally mandatory business invoices, a protest against the law –passed in January– requiring Portuguese consumers to ask for official receipts and give their Fiscal Identification Number (NIF), similar to a tax ID, when making any transaction. The Correio da Manhã newspaper notes that “thousands of invoices have already entered in the electronic system with the name and the number of the Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho.”
The initiative comes from an anti-austerity movement called Revolução Branca, which argues that Portuguese society has been impoverished by Passos Coelho’s fiscal policies and defends this civil disobedience as “ironic”. They circulated the Prime Minster’s tax number via e-mail, text messages, Facebook and Twitter. Reports also say that the tax details of Finance Minister Vítor Gaspar and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Miguel Relvas have also been made public.
It’s a clever way to bring home the effects of austerity measures to Passos Coelho: Portugal’s tax agency is likely to audit his finance records, “as an alert is automatically triggered at the central tax bureau once a taxpayer is believed to have spent well in excess of his declared income” (according to The Portugal News). Portuguese consumers are obliged to give their tax identification number when paying a transaction. Merchants do not have jurisdiction to oversee the taxpayers ‘ entity and can’t confirm whether a consumer in providing its true information. Anti-austerity activist have seized the loophole.
All this is especially embarrassing as it comes ahead of Monday’s visit by the troika — the European Comission, ECB and the IMF — who will be making a periodical review of the country’s €78 billion bailout program.
Sounds like they might have some extra work to do.
CORRECTION: The photo that illustrated the original version of this post was incorrect; the error has now been rectified.