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Thousands of lawyers protest in Cairo against new tax procedure

Thousands of lawyers have protested at the headquarters of the Lawyers Syndicate in Cairo [Getty]
Thousands of lawyers have protested at the headquarters of the Lawyers Syndicate in Cairo [Getty]

Thousands of lawyers have protested at the headquarters of the Lawyers Syndicate in Cairo, and its branches in the Delta and Upper Egypt governorates, against the implementation of the electronic invoice system, calling on the Ministry of Finance to cancel it.

In November, the Tax Authority required individual establishments, whether commercial, industrial, service or professional (such as doctors, lawyers, artists, chartered accountants, engineers and consultants) and all self-employed individuals to register for the electronic invoice system by 15 December.

In a scene that has been absent from the Egyptian trade unions for years, the trade union branches organised protests in front of their headquarters and several courts across governorates nationwide. Lawyers chanted slogans calling for the new system's abolition, claiming it violates the law.

A large group in the legal field rejects the government's policy in dealing with lawyers for several reasons. Lawyer Khaled Ali explained: "Lawyers are subject to income tax, value-added tax, stamps and fees collected on lawsuits, declarations and applications. Now, even reviewing rulings or submitting documents have fees imposed on them, some of which go to the state treasury and some to various funds in various parties. This is at a time when the lawyer and their association are committed to professional development and its costs without support or support from any party."

Ali warned against the government's insistence that lawyers join the electronic invoice system, saying: "Levying is an approach that ignores the effects of imposing all these fees on the future of the profession and its members."

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Lawyers stated that the response of colleagues to the call exceeded expectations, in Cairo, Giza and the rest of the governorates of the republic, despite the security presence. The headquarters were crowded with large numbers of lawyers keen to participate in the demonstrations.

One of the lawyers who participated in the protest in front of their union's headquarters described the matter as a "shakedown" and a violation of the law. Mustafa Abu Al-Hassan, a member of the Bar Association, shared: "The government deals with lawyers as if they are merchants, which is not true, and the new decision unjustly places additional financial burdens on the legal profession because it is deducted from their fees, along with what they pay in terms of taxes, fees, stamps, etc."

Abu Al-Hassan believes: "The deteriorating economic conditions of the state prompted the government to turn into a collection state to save money, but this will negatively affect litigation between people and harm the course of justice, in light of all parties suffering from the costs of unfair fees. Therefore, we affirm our right to reject and cancel them."

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