Draft law dusts off old tax bills

The government yesterday presented for discussion a draft law that will make it easier for individuals and businesses to voluntarily pay outstanding tax obligations in a move that could boost the state coffers by 700 million euros. «We call on taxpayers and tax authorities to leave the past behind and to build a relationship of trust and consistency that will ensure the fulfillment of tax obligations for all citizens in the future,» the Finance Ministry said in a statement. The repayment of tax debt, for outstanding amounts owed up to the end of last year, will result in a legal, final and irrevocable settlement and will eliminate controls, court processes and coercive measures for tax recuperation, according to the statement. Proposals outlined in the draft law include the ability to pay past debts in monthly installments as well as varying discount rates depending on how long the tax has remained unpaid. Athens Chamber of Industry president Pavlos Ravanis welcomed the move yesterday, saying that it will help provide businesses with the chance to pay off old debts and improve relations with the government on tax-related issues. Data presented earlier this week showed that Greece’s budget gap shrank 32.3 percent in the first eight months of the year, beating a 26.5 percent target for the period. Cuts in state wages and pensions offset slower-than-forecast increases in revenue as the economy moves deeper into recession. The deficit, which doesn’t include spending by state-owned institutions and companies, contracted to 14.5 billion euros from 21.4 billion a year earlier, according to the Finance Ministry.

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