Madrid, Spain-based Civismo was named one of eight finalists for this year’s prestigious Templeton Freedom Award for its campaign to lower taxes and promote economic freedom all throughout Spain. This campaign paved the way to significant tax reform. One component of the reform package is that the average income earner will save about 600 euros (US$777) per year.
Civismo President Julio Pomes said, “No politician in Spain could have remained indifferent to Civismo’s campaign. Our low taxes campaign was covered in media all around the country reaching a circulation of 28 million readers in a country of 47 million inhabitants. In fact, on August 1, the Council of Ministers approved the most important tax cut of the past four years.”
In 2010, the national government in Spain raised the VAT in response to the financial crisis and, in 2012, the government raised the VAT again and raised the income tax. Despite revenues beginning to decrease, there was little political will to lower taxes when the crisis was over.
To help citizens understand just how much they were paying in taxes, Civismo launched the Low Taxes Campaign for Spain. The campaign launched in May 2013 with a massive media effort and a personal tax calculator to show, by region, how much an individual or family contributes in taxes. It also shows the portion recent tax hikes represent.
In response to the media bonanza, political pressures mounted. Former prime minister and member of the current government’s People’s Party José María Aznar and the party’s Madrid leader, Esperanza Aguirre, publicly called on their party’s leader, and Spain’s current Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to lower taxes – a stunning move that demonstrated principle over party. By summer 2014, the national government approved fiscal reform that will cut income and corporate taxes starting January 2015. This reform means the average income earner will save about 600 euros (US$777) per year and pay almost the same in taxes in 2015 as he or she did in 2010, before the tax hikes.
The pressure mounted at the local level as well. Since the launch of the campaign, five of the 17 states have cut income taxes for average and low earners and four state capitals have reduced municipal taxes.
Awarded since 2004, the Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The award annually honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation and human fulfillment via free competition. The award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust and will be presented during Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner gala dinner ceremony Nov. 13, 2014 in New York City. The winning organization will receive a $100,000 prize and the runners-up will receive $5,000.
The 2014 Templeton Freedom Award Finalists are:
Acton Institute: Acton University
CEPOS (Center For Political Studies): Private Property Project
Civismo: Low Taxes Campaign for Spain Campaign
Foundation For Government Accountability: Initiative to Limit Medicaid Expansion
Goldwater Institute: Education Savings Accounts
Illinois Policy Institute: Stopping an Unfair Progressive Income Tax
IPEA: One Million Youth for Mexico Campaign
Lithuanian Free Market Institute: Municipal Performance Index
The 2013 Templeton Freedom Award winner and finalists can be found here.