ECONOMY

Over 21 bln euros in new tax debts since 2013

Over 3.4 million taxpayers have either failed to fulfill their tax obligations or have avoided paying their dues to the state in the last couple of years. Since 2013 they have run up debts of 21.6 billion euros to the tax authorities, most of which concern arrears of below 3,000 euros each, which they can now repay in up to 100 installments.

According to data compiled by the General Secretariat for Public Revenues, new debts of 1.765 billion euros were created in the first couple of months of the year, in line with the debt creation rate of previous years. Unpaid taxes reached 840 million euros in January, rising to 925 million in February.

As many as 231,712 taxpayers decided not to make their tax payments in the first two months of 2015 in anticipation of the new payment programs.

Still, data also suggest that state debtors do not intend to take up the state’s offer of a payment scheme with favorable terms. Some 37,300 taxpayers have abandoned the existing 12-tranche payment plan, leaving about 322 million euros unpaid. Forced collection measures, such as repossessions and auctions, have been activated for 2,749 of those taxpayers.

Finance Ministry officials are not expecting any significant revenues from the above categories of debtors through the express settlement measure which will remain in force up to the end of next week, as they have not yet amassed any notable penalties from the nonpayment of taxes in the last couple of years. The express repayment measure provides debtors with the opportunity to have all their penalties and fines written off if they pay their tax dues in a lump sum. If they pay 50 percent of their dues they will have 50 percent of their penalties written off, etc. This measure is aimed at those with older debts which have amassed higher penalties.

It also appears that taxpayers who owe the state relatively small amounts would prefer to wait for the 100-installment settlement scheme, which is seen providing for just 20 euros as a minimum installment amount. This measure is expected to clear Parliament today and be implemented after Easter (mid-April), once the ministerial decisions determining the terms and conditions for inclusion in the plan are issued. Debtors will have until May 26 to apply, but the minister will be able to extend the deadline by one month.

An amendment tabled yesterday in Parliament further provides for the inclusion in the 100-installment program of debts to local authorities. The latter concern nonpayment of council taxes, municipal water company bills and other charges such as those for the use of sidewalks by catering enterprises.