Gov’t ponders abolition of solidarity tax

Stournaras: Decision will be made upon drafting the 2015 budget

The government is considering the abolition of the so-called solidarity levy next year, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday as he issued an indirect call on the General Secretariat for Public Revenues to focus on major tax evaders.

Speaking on Antenna TV, Stournaras stated that the extraordinary solidarity tax, which has applied since 2011, should be true to its name – “extraordinary” – and that the ministry will examine its possible abolition when the time comes to draft the budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

In a shot aimed at Haris Theoharis, the general secretary for public revenues, the minister said that “we are still chasing the small fish and not the medium and large-scale tax evaders who live lavishly at society’s expense. We have provided the general secretary with all the weapons and made all the necessary legislative regulations for him to make any changes he wishes and appoint the people he wants in order to combat large-scale tax evasion.”

This statement was interpreted as discontent with the secretariat’s results to date, which are failing to come up to expectations. Government officials, among others, including MPs, have expressed annoyance at decisions and statements made by Theoharis for which he appeared not to show any consideration for political timing. For instance, the publication of the secretariat’s action plan ahead of the local authority and European Parliament elections met with opposition as it provides for automatic procedures to confiscate debtors’ bank deposits.

Ministry officials counter that the discontent is not due to Theoharis’s conduct but the fact that there is no central control over the monitoring mechanism upon the insistence of the country’s creditors to that effect.

It took no less than two years and constant pressure by the creditors for the secretariat to be organized and manned appropriately.