ECONOMY

Salaried staff, pensioners pay the most taxes

Salary earners and pensioners again bore the brunt of direct taxes in 2005 (for 2004 incomes), accounting for 68 percent of the total and eclipsing the contribution of self-employed professionals and enterprises, according to data released by the Finance Ministry yesterday. The data came as no surprise, actually following a permanent pattern which annually confirms the vast extent of tax evasion. Salary earners’ and pensioners’ incomes are subject to a top rate of 40 percent, while firms paid a 35 percent rate, effectively reduced to about half that when all tax exemptions are added in. The data published yesterday show that 43 percent of the total personal income tax was paid by 730,000 taxpayers who declared incomes of between 23,000 and 50,000 euros. Taxpayers earning 30,000 euros annually pay 6,100 euros in income tax and those making 50,000 euros pay 14,100. The government has said it will simplify the income tax scale as of 2007, which should lighten the burden on all incomes, particularly for those earning more than 23,000 euros. On the new scale, a 30,000-euro earner will pay 4,500 in tax, and those making 50,000 a year will be liable to 9,500 euros in tax. According to the personal income declarations for 2004, Greece had only 39 individuals who earned more than 880,400 euros each. Their combined tax contribution came to 21 million euros. The data show taxpayers earning between 13,000 and 23,000 euros paid 16.6 percent of total income tax, which was 75 billion euros, up 4.3 percent from 2004 (for 2003 incomes). The average tax was up 13.5 percent, while the number of taxpayers increased 5 percent. The average salary in 2004 was 15,700 euros a year, against 14,660 euros in 2003. The average tax they paid came to 1,318 euros from 1,080 euros the year before. Pensioners declared an average income of 12,200 euros, as compared to 11,369 euros in 2003. The average tax paid was up 29 percent. Self-employed professionals paid 10 percent more tax, while their incomes rose 5 percent. Merchants and industrialists paid on average a mere 1,940 euros in tax.