AFP: Traders in Tehran’s grand bazaar went on strike on Tuesday in protest at increased income taxes in a year of slow business, ISNA news agency reported.
TEHRAN, July 6, 2010 (AFP) – Traders in Tehran’s grand bazaar went on strike on Tuesday in protest at increased income taxes in a year of slow business, ISNA news agency reported.
“This morning most businesses including jewellery and fabric shops shut down to protest at a lack of agreement with the tax office” over taxes of the previous Iranian year, which ended March 21, ISNA said.
Such strikes are rare in Tehran’s traditional trade hub where bazaar merchants are a powerful business group.
In October 2008 they went on a week-long strike over a newly introduced value added tax and returned to work only after the government backed down.
“You cannot ignore recession when newspaper headlines say there are bounced cheques of four billion dollars,” complained Mohammad Tahan-pour, who heads the union of home appliance traders.
He said many shops were shutting down because traders could no longer afford the rent, yet “the tax office is using a language of force and pressuring business owners.”
He said in some cases the government was demanding 2.5 times more in annual income taxes in comparison with previous years.
Iran’s economy is heavily dependent on oil exports and the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who first came to power in 2005, enjoyed windfall revenues before the oil prices fell last year amid a global financial crisis.
The hardliner’s economic policy is the core of criticism against his government and opposition leaders continue to challenge his legitimacy, insisting his June 2009 re-election was massively rigged.