By Prokopis Hatzinikolaou
The Finance Ministry issued on Tuesday its first online order for the confiscation of bank deposits due to debts to the state, a part of government efforts to combat tax evasion.
Sources said that the ministry issued the order for the confiscation of the deposits of a company active in the sectors of wholesale commerce and computer trading yesterday morning. The firm reportedly owes an estimated 100,000 euros to the tax authorities.
Although the official response is expected tomorrow from the banks, the ministryís agencies have already received informal information that there is no money in the debtorís accounts. It appears that the banks therefore acted swiftly as they wish to contribute to the effort to contain tax evasion. The decision provides for banks to respond to ministry demands within eight days. The banksí official responses will include an account statement concerning the transactions in the days just before the submission of the demand by the ministry.
And that was just the beginning. Kathimerini understands that dozens more confiscation orders will be forwarded to lenders regarding state debtors today and tomorrow. They will also concern debts that are considered uncollectable. After the banks respond, the debts will be officially deemed uncollectable and archived in a special record for 10 years before being written off. However, if in the meantime a debtor is found to have any assets, his case will be reopened and his debt deemed collectable again, according to a decision signed by the general secretary for Public Revenues, Haris Theoharis.
Those whose debts are officially deemed uncollectable will not be able to get tax clearance and their accounts will remain frozen, while whenever they try to sell an asset (that was not previously traced by authorities or which has been acquired through inheritance) it will be confiscated immediately.
Between 70 and 75 percent of all debts to the state are considered uncollectable, which means that out of the 62 billion euros owed to the authorities, they expect to collect no more than 15 to 18 billion of that.