FINANCE

Identifying rental fraudsters

Authorities to look into cases where landlords suddenly hiked rents to increase state support

identifying-rental-fraudsters

The head of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, Giorgos Pitsilis, on Tuesday issued an order to all tax offices to begin checks on property owners to establish whether they rightly deserved the compensation the state has paid them after the reduction or even waiving of rents since March 2020. Therefore, by the end of the year, many property owners are expected to receive notifications to pay back the cash they collected.

Landlords have received a total of almost 1 billion euros and tax officials are now being asked to find out whether the sums paid out correspond to the “Covid” rent declarations owners have submitted, as well as any cases of law violation.

Tax offices will also inspect all cases where property owners increased rents amid the pandemic, and decide whether they did so with the intention of cheating the state and receiving higher compensation. In addition, they will look into cases where compensation was paid without landlords deserving it or where property owners neglected to submit their Covid rent declarations on the IAPR online platform. In those cases the law dictates the return of the amount.

Kathimerini understands the tax administration has identified cases where, despite the health crisis, rental levels were suddenly raised so that landlords would secure a higher benefit from the state. In such cases, instead of taking losses from the rental cut, they actually made extra gains.

For example, there is the case of a property owner who used to collect a monthly rent of €700, and suddenly hiked that to €1,400 per month. The tenant did not mind as they would not pay any rent anyway, according to the measures. Consequently, instead of collecting €560 per month from the state – i.e. the 80% the measures dictated – the landlord got €1,120. Readers are reminded that this compensation is tax exempt and protected from confiscation.

In cases where landlords are notified to return the sums collected and they do not do so within the deadline, they will also have to face the payment of interest.