Portuguese Prime Minister’s Personal Tax Number Leaked by Anti-Austerity Group

Thousands of fake bills bearing Pedro Passos Coelho’s personal tax number are pouring into revenue offices — and could prompt an investigation of the Prime Minister's finances.

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© STRINGER Chile / Reuters / REUTERS

Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho

In protest over the country’s new tax law, a Portuguese political group called Revolução Branca has “hijacked” the prime minster’s personal tax number and is circulating it via email, text messages and social media, reported the Portuguese newspaper Publico.

Amid deepening economic malaise, Portuguese now face their biggest tax hike in recent memory as part of a new spate of tax laws, instituted after the government signed a €78 billion ($100 billion) deal in 2011 to avoid national bankruptcy. Under the new policy, Portuguese consumers must put down their national insurance number on all financial documents — all the way down to restaurant bills and shopping receipts. Those who don’t obey will fetch a fine up to $1,740.

(More: Why Portugal May Be the Next Greece)

According to The Independent, protestors regard the law as an invasion of privacy. They say it is “unreasonable and unworkable,” noted the Financial Times.

Under the law, people don’t need to present any ID to prove they’re the owners of the number given for financial transactions under€1,000 (about $1,300).And after the group leaked Prime MinisterAnd after the group leaked Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s personal tax number, protestors flooded tax offices with thousands of bills in Coelho’s name from restaurants, bars and shops. personal tax number, protestors flooded tax offices with thousands of bills in his name. When combined, those bills could add up to an amount higher than Coelho’s declared income — sparking a probe into the prime minister’s tax affairs.

(More: Antiausterity Protests Sweep the Euro Zone)

However, any investigation is likely to be short-lived, according to The Independent; any action against Coelho will likely be abandoned once it’s obvious he’s the victim of a hoax — for example, when different bills show him eating in several restaurants at the same time.

The Portuguese prime minister is not the only one whose personal tax number has been leaked. The national insurance numbers of Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar and the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Miguel Relvas have also been widely circulated, according to The Independent.

Coelho, for his part, has taken other anti-tax protests in stride. Last week he was interrupted during a speech to Parliament by activists in the public gallery who began singing “Grândola Vila Morena”, a song made famous during Portugal’s 1974 revolution.

A singing aficionado himself, Coelho commented that “of all the ways of interrupting proceedings, this was in the best taste,” noted the Financial Times.

(More: Four Hours in Lisbon)

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