Raqqa merchants pay “Autonomous Administration” taxes from customers’ pockets

Shoppers on al-Quwatli Street - 23 August 2021 (Enab Baladi / Hussam al-Omar)

Shoppers on al-Quwatli Street - 23 August 2021 (Enab Baladi / Hussam al-Omar)


Enab Baladi – Hussam al-Omar

Asaad al-Shaheen, 50, a paint trader in the city of Raqqa, decided to raise the prices of goods he imports from the Kurdistan region of Iraq and sells them in several shops he owns in the city, according to what he told Enab Baladi.

Al-Shaheen explained that he was forced to raise the price of the goods by 5% of the original price of the commodity that he was receiving, not including his profit margin, after being forced to pay three million Syrian pounds for tax clearance from the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

Since March 2021, AANES has started applying the tax law and imposing it on merchants in Raqqa and other areas it controls in northeastern Syria.

Several merchants from Raqqa governorate, who were interviewed by Enab Baladi, said that they decided to raise the prices of goods in anticipation of being forced by AANES to pay taxes they called “outrageous” and inconsistent with the trade movement and economic situation in the region’s markets.

In mid-July, the employees of the Raqqa Civil Council’s Tax Directorate began requiring city merchants to pay fiscal taxes, which at the time provoked widespread criticism and resentment from merchants over the scale of the amounts charged.

The consumer is a victim of taxes

Ali al-Masoud, 40, the owner of a sanitary fittings store, is arguing with one of his customers about the prices of some of the cladding equipment that he sells in his shop on al-Quwatli Street in the center of Raqqa after the customer found that their price had increased despite the fact that they were priced in US dollars.

Al-Masoud is trying to explain to the customer that the percentage increase will not enter his pocket or increase the financial income of his shop, but rather it is compensation for the five million Syrian pounds tax that he will have to pay at the beginning of next October, that is, in just a few days.

Al-Masoud told Enab Baladi that the commercial movement in Raqqa is weak and affected by the poor living conditions of the residents and that the total daily sales barely meet the costs incurred by merchants, not to mention taxes and bills paid with little service.

A “sedative” of no avail

A member of the Raqqa Chamber of Commerce, a trade union of the city’s merchants and traders that serves as their link to AANES institutions, told Enab Baladi that the merchants held several meetings with AANES officials who promised them to reconsider the tax law, “but that was a sedative of no avail.”

A member of the Raqqa Chamber of Commerce (who declined to give their name for security reasons) indicated that Raqqa’s Tax Directorate gave time limits for merchants to pay bills that are not the same for all merchants, the last of which was at the beginning of next year, that is, in three months. Those who fail to pay will have their shops closed and will be barred from doing business.

On 19 July, North Press Agency quoted Raqqa’s Director of Taxation, Mohammad Abdul Rahman, as saying that those who object to the value of the tax imposed on their business or industrial establishment should review the city’s Tax Directorate to file an objection, after which the amount requested will be reviewed by the Appeals Committee.

The objector is entitled to lodge a second objection after a review of the amount by the Appeals Committee, which should include daily invoices and financial documents to be presented to a second committee with the same competence to review the amount requested.

According to the Director of Taxation, AANES judiciary and courts can be appealed to if the amounts approved by the committees are objected to after the first and second complaints and objections were submitted.


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