ECONOMY

Taxpayers’ and companies’ debts to the state keep piling up

Taxpayers are increasingly unable to pay their dues to the state, with new expired debts in the first couple of months of 2013 coming to 1.3 billion euros.

However, the reason many debtors have not paid their debts is not due to lack of cash, but rather because they are waiting for the Finance Ministry to come up with a payment plan.

It is clear that a ministry plan for the settlement of debts to tax offices is becoming urgent and will likely top the agenda of talks with the representatives of the country’s international creditors who are scheduled to return to Athens next week. According to sources, the government will ask for installments to increase from 36, as preferred by the creditors, to 48.

The mission from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known as the troika, will be presented with the latest ministry data along with a report from the State General Accounting Office to throw light on the extent of taxpayers’ and companies’ inability to pay their dues to the state. It will also receive a proposal including a detailed plan for the collection of the debts within three to four years.

The data released on Wednesday by the ministry showed that old and new tax debts stood at 56.6 billion euros at the end of February. A number of taxpayers and corporations rushed to tax offices to make special arrangements to pay their debts for fear of facing court action given that the grace period of four months had lapsed. This meant that state revenues from expired debts paid in the first two months of 2013 came to 488 million euros.

Out of the 56.6 billion euros, 9.01 billion concerns the old debts of bankrupt companies and taxpayers, while 3.67 billion are in the form of old expired debts owed by utility companies, local authorities etc.

In the year to end-February there were no more than 18 regular inspections at major enterprises and 85 provisional ones, which confirmed tax dues of 28.6 million euros. However, no more than 5.3 million of that was collected. The 58 inspections on very wealthy taxpayers fetched 1.5 million euros of the 3.1 million confirmed as tax dues in the same period.