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In Spain, sticking it to the value added tax -- with a carrot

Credit: Karin Bellemare

Anti-tax fervor has found a novel, new expression in Spain. To duck a value added tax that was increased to 21 percent Sept. 1, a municipal theater in a Catalan village has taken to selling carrots in lieu of tickets. The carrot serves as your admission ticket.

The carrots are no bargain. Patrons have to pay 13 to 15 euros each — $17 to $19 — to see a play. But because carrots are considered a staple food, they’re exempt from the increase that pumped the VAT up from 18 percent. So rather than raising ticket prices to cover the tax increase, or eating the difference himself, the director of the Bescano theater decided to let them eat carrots.

New Yorkers’ are feeling burdened by taxes these days too, so any hint of tax hikes has become political kryptonite. But our economic woes pale compared to the pain in Spain.

Joblessness there is at 24.6 percent compared to 8.1 percent here. The Spanish government recently announced four new rounds of austerity measures, there have been general strikes in some regions of the country and thousands of protestors clashed with police Tuesday in demonstrations outside parliament in Madrid.

In Catalonia, one of 17 regions in the country, the regional government has set elections for November that according to news accounts, many see as a referendum on Catalan independence.

With all that roiling Spain as it wallows in recession, carrots for theater seats may be small potatoes. But the symbolism is delicious.


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