Balkan ‘invisible’ freelancers fight for fair taxation in the digital age
Freelancers in Bosnia and Herzegovina face a similar situation.
In December of last year, in Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia, the tax authorities invited those who do self-employment for foreign companies to declare their income, although unlike in Serbia, id n did not threaten to impose them retroactively.
In the other entity, the Federation, the tax authorities demanded in April 2018 that freelancers pay their tax debts, and the situation is still not resolved.
For the past two years, members of the Bosnian Freelance Association have been lobbying lawmakers to change labor laws and tax policy.
“The institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not yet officially recognized the potential of this category of workers,” said Association Vice-President Elena Babic-Djakovic.
“Representatives of parliamentary parties are not even familiar with the concept of freelance very often, which makes it difficult to determine the status of freelancers and slows down the Association’s work to improve their, or our, status.
New bills on income tax and the law on contributions have entered parliamentary procedure, through the Babic-Djakovic association, they are not satisfied.
Based on online platforms where freelance services are offered and sought after, there are around 15,000 freelancers in Bosnia. The real number is almost certainly higher.
Most of them work in the IT and creative industries, marketing, advertising and consulting. They include developers, online educators, designers, copywriters, journalists, translators, freelance photographers and videographers, editors, instructors …
“Most freelancers earn average salaries, enough to cover the cost of living in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Babic-Djakovic said.
“But there are also those who have a longer work experience, with a larger list of contacts or clients and a larger market who can earn a few dollars each month. Since there is still no freelance register or official statistics in Bosnia, it is impossible to determine the average monthly or annual salary, and while some freelancers earn very low incomes, there are also people. who receive large sums.
Babic-Djakovic said that despite the contribution of freelancers and the fact that they are not a burden on the state, his association has struggled to enter into dialogue with the Bosnian authorities.
“Apart from a few written responses from the Ministry of Finance, our initiatives to governments are completely ignored,” she told BIRN.
“All of our members are people living in Bosnia and Herzegovina and working for clients all over the world. They bring in money here. They pay the bills, the rent. They study. They educate and support their children. They are certainly raising a new generation of freelancers, more numerous, to whom we must give the right to live and work in their country, so as not to flee there.