Unilateral ban on repossessions

Unilateral ban on repossessions

The state will cease repossessions of properties with a taxable, or “objective,” value up to 300,000 euros on the condition that they are the debtors’ main residences, Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis claimed on Thursday, although the country’s creditors are certain to oppose the plan, while the ministry has issued guidelines to tax authorities regarding how to safeguard the state’s interests by collecting expired debts.

Alexiadis told SYRIZA-owned radio station Sto Kokkino that a regulation currently being prepared will protect the residences of state debtors unless the objective value of the property is above 300,000 euros. However, up until yesterday the creditors had received no information from the government as to its intentions regarding repossessions for debts to the state.

If the clause Alexiadis referred to is tabled in Parliament before the representatives of the creditors arrive in Athens next week, the government will have to retract it, as it would constitute a unilateral move.

In fact, just a handful of auctions of main residences have taken place recently. In the last couple of years only eight property auctions for arrears to the state that concern the debtors’ main residences have been conducted. Six out of the eight debtors owed more than 730,000 euros each to the state. The other two owed 55,000 euros and 110,000 euros, but had asked the state to repossess their properties as they would otherwise be unable to pay their dues.

Meanwhile a circular sent by the general secretary for public revenue, Giorgos Pitsilis, tightens the noose around the necks of state debtors who have not had their arrears arranged in some way: It states that for a period of 10 years, taxpayers whose debts are deemed impossible to collect after thorough inspection will be unable to obtain tax clearance or to collect any money from the state (e.g. pensions or allowances), and any asset that comes into their ownership will be confiscated.

Notably, for the tax authorities to establish whether a debt is indeed impossible to collect, they will have to search for all possible assets owned by the debtor, including opening safe deposit boxes, the circular says.

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