Tax cheats face jail
From August 1, a new law passed by the Greek Government empowering police to arrest anyone who owes more than 5,000 euro in back tax
From August 1, a new law passed by the Greek Government empowering police to arrest anyone who owes more than 5,000 euro in back tax. Those who cannot pay in full will be subject to a one-year prison sentence, or up to three years if they owe 150,000 euro or more. As reported in Athens News, the new legislation is part of the government's efforts to recover billions of euro owed to the Greek tax authorities. Some 900,000 individuals and businesses in Greece owe more than 41 billion euro in unpaid taxes and fines.
The major proportion - 37 billion euro - are owed by 6,500 people and 8,200 companies. Meanwhile, the Greek taxman is hard on the heels of some 100 luxury property owners who own real estate valued at more than 60 million euro and who failed to file appropriate property taxes between 1997 and 2007. Officials are also tracking down thousands of other property owners who failed to pay taxes during the same period.
Tax officials have reportedly mailed out notices to 8,666 large-property owners who did not file property taxes. So far, only 1,359 of them have appeared at their local tax office to settle up. Another new measure will grant tax officials access to the personal bank accounts of buyers and sellers of real estate valued in the millions of euro, in order to determine whether the sale price listed on the contract is correct or a fabrication. Other measures prescribed in the new tax law include: a new round of "closure" or peraiosi, as it's known in Greek.
This is a final assessment under which companies and self-employed people can pay a fee in order to settle taxes owed for the years 2000-2009.
The government expects to make some 850 million euro from this. The tax authorities cross-checking information in their databases to identify people who are not declaring all their sources of income, including interest collected on deposits at banks abroad and foreign pensions.
The Greek authorities will be working closely with tax authorities outside Greece to implement this. Tax offices being able to enlist the services of accountants and lawyers to help them with reluctant taxpayers and to make an inventory of undeclared assets, which the state may then seize to cover unpaid debts. The rent paid by the state to private property owners will be reduced by 20 percent and frozen until the end of 2013.
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