Bills in the works on tax evasion, EU funds, welfare

The government’s economic policy agenda for the coming months and ahead of a general election includes a major drive against tax evasion and corruption, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday after a briefing with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. According to a bill already approved by the Cabinet, taxpayers will receive a 40 percent tax break for receipts from car repair shops, electricians and plumbers, and be granted a three-year tax immunity if they report cases of corruption involving tax officials which can be proven. The Finance Ministry is reportedly convinced that six out of 10 car repair shops are engaged in tax evasion. The bill also introduces stiffer penalties for tax officials who accept bribes from companies, with a lowering of the respective sums which make the offence a felony. There will also be stiffer penalties for non-payment of value-added tax, including the blocking of 50 percent of bank deposits if the sums involved are over -150,000. The bill also provides for the closure of enterprises for up to one month for serious tax violations such as non-issuance of receipts, refusal to comply with tax inspectors’ instructions and the systematic concealment of taxable income. Alogoskoufis said the government’s agenda includes two more bills, one of which is on the National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-2013, relating to the management of European Union investment subsidies, which will be presented in the coming weeks. A third bill provides for the setting up of the National Social Cohesion Fund, which will fund measures in support of those below the poverty line. «It is a great reform for the welfare state,» said Alogoskoufis.

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