ECONOMY

Business gives some support to tax bill

The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) yesterday lent partial support to the government’s taxation bill, to the displeasure of opposition deputies. «The bill itself does not provide incentives for development and investment. However, its description as countering development is rather a political exaggeration. It would be good for the country to have lower tax rates, but we must also take into account what the economy can stand. The draft bill is a brick in a wall being built,» SEV’s chairman, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, told Parliament’s Standing Economic Affairs Committee debating the bill on reform of income and capital taxation. Kyriakopoulos called for an increase in the period allowed for the amortization of losses from three to five years. Dimitris Lentzos, representing the small traders (GSEVEE), said the document contained some positive elements for salary earners and pensioners but these were not substantial and the lower-income strata will continue shouldering most of the taxation burden. Lentzos called for an end to the practice of determining the taxable income of his colleagues by criteria other than the books of a business, and for the abolition of retroactive tax inspections for past fiscal years. He also said it was necessary to establish higher tax rates for high incomes, to bring about a significant change in the ratio of direct and indirect taxes, and to provide for the formation of tax-free reserves of small businesses. The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (EBEA) chairman, Drakoulis Fountoukakos, sent a message saying the measures envisaged for firms in the bill were in the direction of simplification rather than lessening the tax burden. EBEA officials noted that the bill lacked boldness, as it does not provide for the lowering of the highest rates for enterprises. One positive measure, they said, was the provision for the deductibility from gross income of amounts for bad debts confirmed by court rulings, but it was not enough to improve competitiveness substantially. They said tax breaks were limited for most salary earners (amounting to no more than 100-300 euros annually) but acknowledged that increasing the tax-free ceiling to 20,000 euros for families with three or more children was a significant step, mainly for boosting the country’s low birthrate.