BUSINESS

Finance Ministry tables ambitious multi-bill

PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

TAGS: Finance

The multi-bill that the Finance Ministry tabled at midnight on Monday is aimed at containing value-added tax evasion – which amounts to 6.5 billion euros per annum – through tax-related incentives for electronic transactions, and at making taxpayers reveal any hidden incomes.

The bill submitted in Parliament links the tax-free threshold with electronic transactions, although it is not clear what kind of expenditure will qualify toward the tax discount of 1,900-2,100 euros per year, besides all healthcare spending.

Salary workers, farmers and pensioners will have to reach a share of between 10 and 20 percent of annual income in payments by credit or debit card, or e-banking, to avoid paying a fine and be able to claim the tax-free threshold, whose amount depends on their family situation. There will be exceptions for older pensioners and Greeks living in remote parts of the country.

The bill reduces the maximum amount allowed for cash transactions from 1,500 to 500 euros, although there had been proposals for that limit to drop as low as 50 euros. Still, very few legitimate transactions over 500 euros are made anyway.

Another clause provides for the creation of a program for a public lottery to be based on transactions conducted electronically for the acquisition of goods. A total amount of 12 million euros will be up for grabs every year.

The Finance Ministry is targeting taxpayers whose names are on some of the lists of Greeks with undeclared deposits in bank accounts abroad with its clause for the voluntary revelation of hidden incomes. However, the tax they will have to pay starts from 42-43 percent of the income to be declared and reaches up to 60 percent, depending on the case and the time the income was hidden.

Both tax officers and accountants warn that this clause won’t fetch any notable revenues, as the high rates of taxation to be charged mean hardly anyone will reveal such incomes voluntarily unless they are already under investigation. Therefore, the clause concerns just a few taxpayers, accountants note, and those “who may be afraid.”

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