ECONOMY

More taxpayers and firms owe money to the state

One in three taxpayers and two in three companies owe money to the Greek state, as according to Finance Ministry data released on Thursday, 2.5 million taxpayers owe a total of 20.4 billion euros and nearly 150,000 companies owe some 35.3 billion euros.

While these figures include taxpayers who have died or enterprises that have folded or are fake, the ministry data point to a monthly increase in the number of debtors due to their inability to pay and as they await a new tax payment plan.

However, the official figures show that tax authorities met their target for revenue collection in February. That was because the shortfalls registered by 70 tax offices was offset by the revenues of the other 70 that managed to beat their targets. However out of the 140 tax offices, only 17 achieved their set targets for value-added tax collection. This serves to illustrate that companies are refraining from paying their VAT dues and that the target for such revenues was too high, probably because the Finance Ministry failed to correctly assess the impact of the economic contraction.

Now the ministry is seeking to bolster the market by accelerating the tax returns procedure in relation to over 330,000 enterprises and taxpayers.

In an urgent circular issued on Thursday, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis asked tax offices to follow the express procedures providing for the return of VAT and income tax amounting to 3.2 billion euros.

According to ministry data, within April, some 255,000 taxpayers will collect income tax refunds adding up to 94.3 million euros, while 78,000 corporations will have tax totaling 1.33 billion euros returned within a period ranging from 10 days to three months, depending on the amount and whether there is a need for a possible inspection of documents. Another 11,700 companies stand to collect 1.7 billion euros in VAT returns.