Gov?t aims for 6.5 billion in taxes

The Finance Ministry is hoping to squeeze an unprecedented 6.5 billion euros out of taxpayers this year, according to data already collected from processed income tax statements, up from an original target of 5.1 billion euros.

So far some 3.3 million tax statements have been processed and the tax revenues for the state add up to 4 billion euros, although it is by no means certain that taxpayers will be able to foot the 6.5-billion-euro bill, given their shrinking incomes.

The processed data reveal that the average tax Greeks will need to pay this year amounts to a staggering 1,700 euros. In 2011 tax refunds added up to more than 1.5 billion euros, while this year they are not expected to exceed 500 million.

Last year the additional taxes paid by taxpayers had amounted to 2.7 billion euros, which is much smaller than the increase expected this year. The rise in tax demands is due to the drop in the tax-free threshold, the new factoring in of assets held to help determine incomes — affecting even those with an annual income of below 5,000 euros — as well as a drastic cut in tax exemptions.

The statement processing has shown that two in every three taxpayers are being asked to pay more taxes than last year, while last year it was just one in five. Some 4 million taxpayers out of 5.7 million who submit a statement will face an increase in their tax payments, while many will be paying for the first time ever despite the decline in the level of salaries and pensions.

Ministry officials say that the only way for that huge amount to be cashed in is to allow taxpayers to pay their income tax, solidarity levy and annual fee to practice a profession in installments. According to the ministry?s latest plan, this could be done in as many as 10 monthly installments, provided that taxpayers have submitted their statement in time, that is by July 31 as far as electronic submissions are concerned.

The ministry has already advised Greece?s creditors of its intentions to collect taxes in installments, and the relevant legal clause is expected to go through Parliament after the tax submission deadline.

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