ECONOMY

New bill to help businesses pay old taxes

A new draft bill tabled in Parliament late on Thursday aims to help some 500,000 Greek entrepreneurs to make good on outstanding tax debts.

The reform proposed by the Finance Ministry is essentially an extension of an initiative introduced last year ? known as ?peraiosi? ? which allows entrepreneurs to pay past debts in monthly installments as well as varying discount rates depending on how long the tax has remained unpaid.

Any businesses not included in the previous scheme will be able to benefit this time round, including those with property worth more than 400,000 euros, companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange and those with a turnover of between 20 and 40 million euros.

Another provision in the new bill offers a type of amnesty to taxpayers who either have not been submitting income tax declarations in recent years or have been submitting them inaccurately. These taxpayers will not face fines and incremental charges if they submit their declarations for 2010 correctly.

Another clause in the bill gives the green light for the involvement of private auditors and legal firms in the government?s efforts to collect outstanding taxes.

Inadequate tax collection and the failure of the Greek authorities to crack down effectively on widespread tax evasion has been one of the main gripes of Greece?s foreign creditors.