Man creates republic to avoid paying tax

By Kirrily Schwarz

Vit Jedlicka is the president and founder of Liberland.
Vit Jedlicka is the president and founder of Liberland.

No-one likes paying tax, but Vit Jedlicka hates it more than most.

So much, in fact, that he found a bit of empty marshland, planted a flag, and declared a republic. His girlfriend and two of his mates held an impromptu vote, and elected him President.

In his mind, it's a libertarian utopia, with no taxes and no gun control. The yellow flag features a black stripe symbolising anarchy. Bitcoin is the official currency. He's appointed a cabinet, and printed diplomatic passports.

"There has been enormous support, and it's still rising. We've got almost half a million people that are registered on our website [as citizens], that would make us the most heavily overpopulated country on earth," he told Fox News in October.

There's just one catch: if he sets foot on the soggy soil, he'll be arrested.

Liberland is set on the banks of Europe's mighty Danube river, on the border of Serbia and Croatia - but a legal loophole means neither country has actually claimed it.

According to a BBC feature published this week, the 7sq km patch is a rare example of terra nullius.

Journalist Jolyon Jenkins wrote that while it was once a part of Serbia, it ended up with Croatia when the borders were redrawn at the end of the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990s. However, if Croatia formally accepted it, it would mean accepting the new borders, which actually gave it less territory than it had in the first place.

Liberland is a small little marsh with few laws. But you'll probably get arrested if you go there.
Liberland is a small little marsh with few laws. But you'll probably get arrested if you go there.

They might not want it, but they also don't want to be invaded by a horde of gun-toting opportunists, either. When the first group of settlers arrived shortly after, they were all promptly arrested and fined - including the Czech-born President himself.

"Croatia is a little bit hesitant, but I think they are friendly to us insofar as they are helping us to secure our borders, which is very positive for us," he told Fox News.

"There is a border guard and they are recognising this doesn't belong to them, so that helps to strengthen our claim on the territory."

Talk about putting an optimistic spin on things.

However, the 32-year-old isn't going down without a fight.

He's attending libertarian conferences, keeping the dream alive on social media, and he's even received at least one invitation to attend a regional economic conference as a "head of state". He believes a free-market haven could provide a much-needed boost to the Balkans.

Mr Jedlicka is also spruiking a pretty unusual tax system.

"We want to start from scratch, with a minimum amount of regulation and minimum taxes, and going even further, to introduce a voluntary tax system," he told Fox News.

"What we want to do is actually incentivise people to pay taxes, through basically giving them shares of the country they're living in, so we have come up with this merit system, where everybody who contributes to the country gets merits for it, and basically also becomes a shareholder."

Since he can't actually settle in the marsh, he's trying to create a temporary settlement of houseboats to serve as meeting places and diplomatic accommodation.
He may be exiled - but for now, the dream is well and truly alive.

- news.com.au

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