As the holiday fast approaches, which is officially observed as All Saints’ Day in Hungary, the national tax and customs office (NAV) is ramping up checks on vendors selling holiday merchandise.
NAV inspectors are usually out in force ahead of most major holidays, which attract a large number of ad-hoc amateur vendors and sometimes even professionals who set up shop selling seasonal items, ranging from Christmas decorations to chocolate Easter bunnies.
In Hungary, Halloween doesn’t typically feature the costume parties, ghouls and goblins, and trick-or-treaters seen in the US and Great Britain. Instead, vendors typically sell candles and lamps to light at graves to remember loved ones but goods associated with Halloween, such as costumes, are also increasingly sold as well.
Tax authorities want to make sure all sales are properly documented and the relevant VAT dues are being paid to the state. However, the second reason is to run checks on the merchandise to ensure imported goods came through legal channels. Working in conjunction with consumer protection agents, authorities also check to see if goods comply with relevant safety standards.
These checks happen for a reason. For example, during this year’s Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix, authorities found some sort of irregularity at every third vendor.
As in many other parts of Europe, All Saints’ Day is an important Catholic event observed in more than a dozen European countries and seen as a time for reflection. People customarily visit and care for the graves of deceased friends and relatives and light candles in tribute
At the same time, Halloween has increasingly become a part of Hungary’s popular culture over the last few decades, including Halloween costumes, jack-o’-lanterns and the gorging on candy typically seen in the US.
Title image: Grave lamps in a Hungarian cemetery (source: Magyar Nemzet/Zoltán Havran)