ECONOMY

The undoing of the Greek professional

the-undoing-of-the-greek-professional

The decade-long crisis has decimated freelance and self-employed professionals in Greece. Their declared income has shrunk by 60 percent while their number has fallen 40 percent over that time.

The crisis has led many members of this professional category to terminate their activity, and others to curtail their work, while quite a few have decided to continue while hiding a significant share of their earnings.

Official statistics show that the approximately 1 million freelancers and self-employed in 2010 declared incomes of 24 billion euros, while seven years later the 610,000 professionals remaining in this category declared incomes that did not exceed 10 billion euros.

Greeks’ incomes dropped by some 27 billion euros in total over the years of the crisis, an amount that reflects the heavy taxation on earnings, the huge social security contributions people had to pay in the years up to 2017, as well as the reduction of salaries and pensions. The data show that the country’s taxpayers declared incomes of 100.3 billion euros to the tax authorities in 2010, while in 2017 they declared only 73.6 billion. At the same time salary workers lost 9 billion euros per annum, or 22.6 percent of their incomes.

Tax evasion certainly soared during the crisis period. Unable to monitor developments until it was reorganized, the monitoring mechanism allowed evasion to grow; therefore those who paid for the fiscal adjustment of the Greek state were the salary workers who were unable to conceal their revenues as other professional groups could: In 2010 the 2 million salary workers declared incomes of 39.7 billion euros, while by 2017 their takings had shrunk to 30.7 billion. Their average annual income fell from about 20,000 euros in 2010 to some 13,850 euros in 2017.

There was a more dramatic decline in the incomes of pensioners, even though they grew in numbers: In 2010, 1.6 million pensioners declared incomes of 26.8 billion, while in 2017 2.25 million pensioners declared 25.2 billion euros. Their average revenues dropped 34.3 percent, from 16,750 euros to just above 11,000 euros.