BUSINESS

Property tax surplus may lead to more installments or cuts

By Prokopis Hatzinikolaou

The government is considering an increase in the number of installments allowed for the payment of the new Single Property Ownership Tax (ENFIA) for 2014 and to reduce its size from 2015 if the amount taxpayers are asked to pay exceeds that provided for by the budget.

The Finance Ministry’s online tax portal (Taxisnet) on Friday issued the first ENFIA pay notices for home owners, stating that the tax is payable in five installments, with the first due by August 29. The government, however, is now examining the possibility of having the tax paid in up to seven installments, through end-February, in order to make sure that as many taxpayers as possible pay the levy, which replaces the previous Property Tax (FAP) and the tax imposed via electricity bills.

Some 1 million home owners will be asked to pay more property tax this year as they own properties that were illegal until 2013 and have now been legalized, or had properties where the power had been disconnected and therefore could not be charged via their electricity bills.

Sources also say that if the amount imposed exceeds 3.2 billion euros, the surplus amount will not be returned directly to taxpayers but will be examined in the general context of lightening the overall tax burden on Greeks.

The government and Greece’s creditors have agreed on a target of 82 percent payment of the tax imposed, so that state coffers receive 2.65 billion euros. Yet with expired debts increasing by 1 billion euros per month, it appears unlikely that eight in 10 property owners will pay up on time, especially at a time when income tax is also due. This is a major concern for the ministry, which is why it is not harboring any major expectations from the ENFIA takings.

For the time being the prime minister’s office is ruling out a reduction to the ENFIA tax for this year, even if collection beats the original target. If there is a surplus in takings it might be used to plug other holes, such as the one created by a court ruling against the pay cuts to the police and the armed forces.

What the PM’s office is considering is including the lightening of the ENFIA burden in the package of tax cuts planned for next year, provided Athens secures its creditors’ consent and there is no fiscal gap in next year’s budget.

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