Coalition mulls property tax changes

The single property tax (ENFIA) and the errors it contains are expected to top the agenda of a meeting between Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and New Democracy lawmakers on Friday, as the government prepares to make changes to the levy that should ease the burden on thousands of taxpayers.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s adviser Chrysanthos Lazaridis is expected to accompany Hardouvelis at Friday’s meeting. It is an indication of the importance that the coalition attaches to the tax in the wake of the errors that were uncovered earlier this month which led to many taxpayers being overcharged.

The mistakes prompted concern among New Democracy and PASOK deputies, who feared a backlash from disgruntled constituents. PASOK officials are expected to present Hardouvelis with the party’s recommendations for changes to ENFIA. These include altering the so-called objective values used by tax authorities to calculate how much a property is worth.

The junior coalition partner also wants Hardouvelis to decide on the number of installments taxpayers will have to pay the levy.

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) informed the government this week that it could extend the period it has to collect the tax. The government asked ELSTAT if it could allow more time for taxpayers to make their payments without it affecting the coalition’s drive to meet fiscal targets.

ELSTAT responded that any revenues collected by March next year would be recorded in this year’s budget. This means the government could allow taxpayers to pay in seven monthly installments rather than four.

So far, the government has only given taxpayers an extra month, until the end of September to pay their first installment, with the last having to be paid by the end of the year.

The coalition is aiming to collect 2.4 billion euros from ENFIA, down from the 2.65 billion initially calculated. However, the government is considering tweaks that include using two methods to calculate what each taxpayer has to pay and then opting for what produces the lowest amount in each case. This could lead to the total amount that could be collected declining by around 150 million euros.