NCRI - Gold merchants and jewelry traders in city of Isfahan continued their protest for third consecutive day while in the northwestern cities of Tabriz and Orumiyeh a number of them are on hunger strike, according to reports by local media.

On Saturday the gold merchants in Tabriz closed their shop to protest high amount of taxes that has been demanded.

The protest in Isfahan that began on Tuesday includes all the gold merchants and jewelry traders.

Recently the regime increased Value Added Tax (VAT) has from 5 to 8 percent. The traders say such increase makes people less inclined to buy gold.

Also the authorities are requiring them to pay VAT form the past two years.

In late September through October of 2010, Iranian gold merchants and jewelers carried out a campaign to protest 3% Value Added Tax (VAT) increase. Hoever later they ended protest as government agreed to implement a working committee to try to reach a compromise.

The government refused to accede to demands that they end the tax entirely, however they made concessions in agreeing to reduce the rate, as well as not overly intruding into merchants’ accounts and record-keeping.

The tax increase are mainly due to the country’s economic state, and the government’s attempts to raise more money.

However, many merchants countered this argument by saying that raising taxes on the already-strapped bazaars only exacerbated a tense situation.

The Iranian merchant class makes up an important and influential sector of society. During the 1979 Iranian revolution and the overthrow of the Shah, bazaar merchants were instrumental in organizing strikes and boycotts to express their opposition to his regime, and are largely seen as one of the major factors influencing the fall of the Shah’s government.

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