Tax bill submitted; reactions vary

The government yesterday tabled in parliament a bill introducing changes to Greece’s tax system, including the taxing of dividends, as it gauged the fallout from the announcements made earlier this week. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday stock dividends and share capital gains will be taxed at a rate of 10 percent as of next year, while a tax-free threshold for the self-employed will be dropped. The industrialist group Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) described steps to up taxes on share dividends as ‘particularly unfortunate,’ adding that such moves harm the stability of the fiscal system and the country’s competitiveness. The government argues that the measures are necessary to stamp out tax evasion and bolster sliding budget revenues. The Athens Traders Association (ESA) said the changes are «dead-end measures» that oblige law-abiding taxpayers to pay for their cheating peers. In a similar vein, the General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Traders (GSEVEE) said the taxes unfairly target their members. There were however some positive reactions to the changes, with the government being applauded for not pushing the weight of the budget measures directly onto salary earners and pensioners, while others welcomed the opportunity offered to taxpayers to settle outstanding debts to the state on more favorable terms.