ECONOMY

Venizelos forces a receipts rush

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Tuesday the latest changes to tax legislation, required as a result of the state?s inability to contain tax evasion.

He also revealed that Greece?s creditors asked for Prime Minister George Papandreou?s pledge that the measures agreed with Athens will be fully implemented as a condition for the return of the troika inspectors to Greece.

Three months before the end of the year, the minister decided that all taxpayers will need to collect more receipts for the current year, without having decided the precise level of receipts required. However, if taxpayers fail to collect the amount required, they will be forced to pay more in taxes.

Speaking at a press conference in Athens, Venizelos also announced that the tax-free ceiling will be reduced to just 5,000 euros for 2011 — the exceptions being pensioners aged over 65 and young people aged under 30, for whom the ceiling will be set at 9,500 euros. This drop signifies a major cut in tax exemptions, too.

?Given Greece?s situation, with its per capita income and its fiscal problem, its tax-free ceiling cannot possibly remain above the European average,? argued Venizelos.

The receipts measure is now dissociated from the tax-free ceiling, which until last year rose depending on the amount of receipts collected.

The minister announced that the measures, which are expected to be voted on in Parliament by the end of October or early November, will include an increase in the receipts per income ratio, which currently stands at 25 percent, using examples that signify a requirement for receipts of 1 euro for every 2 euros of income.

Since the time remaining until the end of the year is very short, this measure could include expenditure for rent or utility bills, otherwise it will be practically impossible for anyone to collect the amount of receipts required.

The penalty for taxpayers who do not collect the receipts needed is likely to come up to an additional 10 percent of tax for the percentage of the income that remains unaccounted for by receipts.