ECONOMY

Stock market transactions tax to be replaced next year

The government said yesterday it was studying a plan to abolish the 0.15 percent tax on stock market transactions and replace it with a tax on capital gains from the sale of shares. «We intend to abolish all taxes on transactions. We recently announced the abolition of the 2.4 percent stamp duty on life insurance policies. We also intend to abolish the tax on stock market transactions, but it has to be replaced by a capital gains tax and we are studying how this can be done without causing further problems,» Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told reporters at the Foreign Press Association. A ministry official said the change will take place in 2009, and the tax will apply only to short-term placement so as not to discourage institutional investors. Further details, defining the duration of a short-term placement and how the tax will be applied, will be decided later. They will have to be accompanied by a reliable system that will preclude attempts at tax evasion. Alogoskoufis’s announcement only partially addresses the demand of stock market circles for an immediate abolition of the tax on transactions, as the daily turnover is dwindling and big investors now prefer ex-bourse transactions. But despite the pressure, the Economy Ministry is not in any hurry to abolish the transactions tax, from which it expects to collect 165 million euros this year. Alogoskoufis said that the government has no plans to cut other tax rates further. He said that «2008 will be a year of preparations rather than implementation of more privatizations,» as they will concern infrastructure and network companies. The government would be open to any proposal for a partnership with OTE telecom from another European telecoms group, he said. «We are not in any particular hurry. OTE can continue its growth drive on its own.» Liechtenstein link? In the next few days, the government will ask German authorities to share any data on Greek residents dodging taxes through Liechtenstein bank accounts, following recent revelations in Germany. «We have no indication that the list includes any Greeks but I have asked the deputy finance minister to seek information (from the German authorities),» he said. International pressure on Liechtenstein to lift the confidentiality on its bank accounts is growing. German agents bought a DVD from a former bank employee containing the data of about 1,400 tax dodgers from Germany, the UK and other countries, Alogoskoufis said.