ECONOMY

Big fat untaxed Greek weddings

Weddings, parties and karate lessons would become tax deductible in Greece under a new law aimed at cracking down on rampant tax evasion and reducing the country’s fiscal deficit. Presenting the draft legislation, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday more personal expenses will be tax deductible to encourage Greeks to ask for more receipts. «Cracking down on tax evasion is a top priority: It is a phenomenon that results in social injustice and constitutes a very serious crime,» Alogoskoufis said. «Each time a citizen does not ask for a receipt, someone else will miss out on something. A school, a hospital, a social benefit,» he added. Greece has sought to improve tax collection as part of its plans to further cut its budget deficit, and to stamp out the unofficial «gray economy,» estimated at about 30 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Under the new law, taxpayers can deduct 40 percent of annual spending on family costs of as much as -8,000 a year. The costs include wedding and baptism receptions, restaurant and taverna bills, dance, martial arts and swimming lessons, as well as hairdressing and diet center fees, according to the draft law. «Those who abide by these rules will be rewarded,» Alogoskoufis said. «This extra revenue will be used to finance healthcare and education and to stamp out poverty.» He said businesses that voluntarily come clean on unreported revenues will also be rewarded by getting a discount on any fines or additional taxes resulting from potential investigations. The bill will be presented to Parliament next week. List of tax-deductible expenses 1. Expenses for receptions, weddings and baptisms. 2. Receipts from tavernas and restaurants (except fast-food outlets and those within hotels). 3. Expenses paid to realty brokers, conservatories, dance schools, martial arts schools, gyms, swimming pools, slimming and beauty centers, hairdressing salons, dieticians, nutritionists, homeopathic therapists, speech therapists and masseurs. 4. Expenses for repair of air-conditioning and ventilation units, and the services of plumbers, electricians, painters and other specialists providing house maintenance and repair work.