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Hungary’s tax authority fines St. Nicholas

A St. Nicholas impersonator was fined by Hungary’s Tax and Customs Authority (NAV) for failing to present a receipt after paying a house call to a family, Hungarian online daily 444.hu reported yesterday.

The impersonator told Tények, a news show on Hungary’s second largest commercial channel TV2, that the authorityʼs officers disguised as parents told the impersonator to “surprise” the children, and he was also given information on how the children behaved during the year.

“We went in, we praised the children, we scolded them, pictures were taken, we were laughing and we were happy, until we got to the elevator and we were paid. At that moment they said there was something in the kitchen they wanted to show me, and it turned out to be their NAV ID cards,” the impersonator told the television channel.

This visit is traditional in Hungary on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) in Hungary, and parents often hire St. Nicholas impersonators to pay a call.

As the impersonator gave no receipt, his activity counts as tax evasion and he was fined accordingly. He said that because he does this job once a year only, he did not think he would have such concerns, 444.hu reported.

According to the online daily, his fine could be as much as HUF 200,000. Data by Eurostat suggest that the monthly minimum wage in Hungary in January was €332.76, approximately HUF 103,786. The fee of Santa impersonators which visit homes ranges from HUF 3,000-8,000 per occasion according to advertisements posted online.