CASE OF KEPECS v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 65499/11)
17 March 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Kepecs v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Robert Spano, judges,
and Abel Campos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 17 February 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 65499/11) against Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Hungarian national, Mr György Kepecs (“the applicant”), on 17 October 2011.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr G. Magyar, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Public Administration and Justice.
3. The applicant complained that the imposition of 98% tax on part of his severance payment was contrary to Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
4. On 6 June 2014 the application was communicated to the Government.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicant was born in 1947 and lives in Budapest.
6. From 1 October 2003 the applicant was employed with a State-owned gambling service provider.
7. On 28 June 2010 the applicant’s employment was terminated as of 27 October 2010. The employer paid the applicant severance payment, subject to payroll burdens, which consisted of payment for unused annual leave and an additional two months’ salary.
8. Under new legislation (see paragraph 9 below) the severance payment was subsequently taxed at a 98% rate in its part exceeding 3.5 million Hungarian forints (HUF); the income tax and social security contributions already paid (see paragraph 7 above) were deducted from the tax payable. Thus, the applicant paid an additional HUF 3,588,701 (approximately 11,300 euros (EUR)) in special tax on 17 May 2011.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
9. For relevant domestic law, see the judgments N.K.M. v. Hungary (no. 66529/11, §§ 8-19, 14 May 2013); Gáll v. Hungary (no. 49570/11, §§ 8-18, 25 June 2013) and R.Sz. v. Hungary (no. 41838/11, §§ 8-17, 2 July 2013).
ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1 OF THE CONVENTION
10. The applicant complained about the imposition of 98% tax on part of his remuneration due on termination of his employment. He relied on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
The Government contested that argument.
11. The Court notes that the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
12. The Court observes that virtually identical circumstances gave rise to a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in the case of R.Sz. v. Hungary (no. 41838/11, §§ 54-62, 2 July 2013) and is satisfied that there is no reason to hold otherwise in the present application.
It follows that there has been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
13. Relying on Article 41 of the Convention, the applicant claimed EUR 12,000 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage.
14. The Government contested these claims.
15. On the basis of equity, the Court awards the applicant EUR 11,100 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage combined.
16. The applicant also claimed EUR 2,400 plus VAT for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court.
17. The Government contested this claim.
18. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case-law, the Court considers it reasonable to award the applicant the full amount he claimed, that is EUR 2,400.
19. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, the following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State:
(i) EUR 11,100 (eleven thousand one hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage combined;
(ii) EUR 2,400 (two thousand four hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 17 March 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Abel Campos Helen Keller
Deputy Registrar President