Government presses ahead with theatre tax rise, despite senate efforts

The government has decided to ignore a motion from the senate, or upper house of parliament, calling on it not to increase value added tax on theatre tickets from 6% to 19% on January 1.

However, if the increase leads to ‘unreasonable damage’ to the sector, the government will look again at the issue next year, the cabinet said.
The decision means the senate could now reject the cabinet’s entire 2011 tax plan during Tuesday’s debate.
However, commentators say this is very unlikely, as senators from the ruling VVD or CDA would be required to vote against the government.
Both VVD and CDA senators have now urged the cabinet to delay the increase until the start of the new theatre season in September.
They say it is unreasonable to expect theatres and other performing arts companies to cope with the tax rise when tickets have already been sold and budgets made.
CDA senator Peter Essers told the Telegraaf the tax increase appears to have such strong political symbolism that there is no room at all for manoeuvre.
In November, it emerged the VVD was prepared to look for alternative ways of raising €90m. However, the anti-Islam PVV, which wants to slash spending on culture, made the increase an essential part of its alliance with the minority government.
Meanwhile, the NRC reports the cabinet has agreed to adopt a motion from an independent senator, Henk ten Hoeve to change the wording on Dutch passports from Koninkrijk Holland in translation.
This is noteworthy, the paper says, because prime minister Mark Rutte had earlier rejected the change.
Ten Hoeve has declined to say which way he will vote on the tax issue, the paper says, but claims he was phoned personally by a government official to tell him his motion had been accepted.
According to the Telegraaf, the Lowlands music festival organisers are considering becoming a circus to avoid the tax rise. Circus and cinema are not covered by the tax increase. Sports events, including football, are also exempt.

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