New taxes to boost revenue

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis met yesterday, against the background of government efforts to introduce measures that will boost revenues without having a negative impact on salaried employees and pensioners. «We must better tax those incomes which are on the whole not being taxed at all. We are not looking at income from salaries, but gains deriving from capital or those who simply evade taxation. The priority for the future will be the broadening of the tax base,» say Economy and Finance Ministry sources. Among the measures that will likely be included in the 2009 budget draft are the following: a) Taxing earnings from dividends, which are currently taxed at source at a 25 percent rate. b) Taxing capital gains from short-term stock transactions. c) Taxing stock options and bonuses that company officials receive and which are not taxed at present. d) Changes to the favorable tax status of various allowances and remuneration of civil servants and employees of state firms, payments to doctors and sportspeople, the special allowance to civil aviation pilots etc. e) Increasing efforts to combat tax evasion. «There is significant scope for increasing tax revenues relative to gross domestic product,» add ministry sources, as revenues from direct tax as a percentage of GDP is half that in the rest of the European Union. Proposals are therefore being put forward for the reintroduction of so-called «objective criteria» for determining minimum income and tax of self-employed persons who declare particularly low incomes. The inclusion of other measures in the budget will depend on the course of tax revenues and general developments in the economy. Regarding expenditures, the main focus of efforts will be on containing spending particularly in the public sector. At end-August the government will table a bill setting rules to tighten control of expenses and increase transparency in all public corporations such as hospitals, social security funds and local authorities.