BUSINESS

Payment scheme nightmare

PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

TAGS: Economy

More than 1 million Greeks are now trapped in programs to pay off their tax and social security dues in installments, a situation likely to continue for years to come.

On Wednesday the Finance Ministry announced taxpayers can apply for a 12- or 24-installment payment scheme, which under certain circumstances can include non-expired dues, on the website of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue.

Citizens are resorting to various payment programs offered by the ministries of Finance and Labor because they would otherwise be unable to meet their obligations. In many cases taxpayers are forced to pay additional installments in order not to default on their plans.

The million-plus taxpayers and businesses that are trapped in the various schemes they have entered to pay off the tax authorities and the social security funds have no other choice but to keep paying, otherwise they will have their assets confiscated.

The payment schemes are the outcome of the growth in taxation and of social security contributions in recent years. Worse, as of this year, if anyone delays the payment of an installment by more than 24 hours, the debt will be classified as overdue and the process of the monitoring mechanism will be triggered for the state to safeguard its interests. Particularly in the case of the 100-payment program for dues to the tax authorities, missing a deadline means the entire amount due is classified as expired and becomes immediately payable along with fines and penalties.

The ongoing payment programs are:
* The settlement of dues to the tax authorities in 12-24 tranches
* The settlement of arrears to social security funds in up to 12 installments.
* The 100-payment plan for tax debts, that is no longer open to taxpayers.
* The 100-installment plan for social security debts, which is also closed to new debtors.
* Soon thousands of self-employed professionals and small enterprises with tax or social security debts up to 50,000 euros will enter the new 120-tranche plan.

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