Revenue raisers on the fiscal table

Ten days after Greece submitted its updated economic stability plan to the European Union, the Economy and Finance Ministry is weighing up a series of options to boost budget revenues that will help it meet its fiscal goals. Among the options being mulled is the introduction of an additional 1,000-euro tax on those with an income of more than 50,000 euros. A move which may then be followed by further broadening the tax base. But according to one source, the introduction of such a one-off tax to be paid by high income earners would only generate about an extra 100 million euros for the budget. Later on down the track, however, this could be extended also to include middle-income earners and this would make a difference to revenues, the source added. Last week, the European Commission said it started disciplinary steps against Greece for exceeding the bloc’s budget deficit limit. Brussels and Athens disagree on expected growth rates for this year, a figure which has a major role in shaping the country’s fiscal policy. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, sees Greece’s economy expanding by 0.2 percent this year but the Finance Ministry expects the figure to be much higher, at an annual rate of 1.1 percent. Other options being examined by the Finance Ministry include allowing homeowners to legalize illegal extensions made to their homes for a fee, in what would be a solid revenue raiser for the budget. Some 20 percent of apartments constructed after 1985 are estimated to have built parts of their balcony into the home’s living areas, without any declaration being made to authorities. Advisers have also recommended methods to Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou to catch tax cheats, such as directly hooking up tax offices with Greece’s interbank system to spot suspicious transactions.

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