ECONOMY

Revenue gap leads to rebate freeze

It appears that the Finance Ministry has ordered a halt to outgoing payments, freezing tax rebates. The aim of the move, according to tax office directors, is to plug the budget revenue gap, which posted a shortfall of 1.2 billion euros in the first 10 months of the year.

The head of one major tax office in Athens told Kathimerini that, on the orders of the ministry’s central agency, tax offices can currently only award tax rebates to those who owe the government money, by subtracting the figure from their debts. The reason given to tax office directors by the ministry’s central agency is that the offsetting process will have to be completed rapidly for the sake of those wishing to enter the new repayment plans for expired debts.

However, the same tax official said that the offsetting of debts with rebates accounts for no more than 20 percent of total tax rebates. The real goal, he said, is to ease pressure on the budget by not including any new rebates, which in the first 10 months of the year amounted to 2.84 billion euros.

Ministry sources spoke yesterday of a technical problem with the system that has led to the freezing of rebate payments. Once the problem is fixed, they said, the payment of rebates will resume, suggesting that this would be in the next few days.