Opposition to new real estate tax broadens

The Athens Bar Association (ABA) is preparing to mount a legal challenge to the government?s plan for an emergency property tax, which has also met with opposition from some PASOK members.

The ABA claimed yesterday that the tax, which will see homeowners pay between 0.5 and 16 euros per square meter this year and next, was illegal and that the Council of State, Greece?s highest administrative court, would likely reach the same conclusion.

?Real estate is subject to tax when people own it, when they transfer its ownership and when they earn money from it,? ABA president Yiannis Adamopoulos told Kathimerini. ?A new property tax would create unbearable pressure, it would affect its value and damage the constitutional right of ownership.?

ABA said there are also questions over whether the Public Power Corporation could collect the property tax via electricity bills. The association encouraged homeowners to lodge complaints with administrative courts.

Some PASOK members have expressed their dissatisfaction with the tax, which the government is relying on to help clinch an 8-billion-euro loan tranche. Agricultural Development Minister Costas Skandalidis described the tax as ?unfair? and PASOK deputy Yiannis Amoiridis told Skai Radio that unemployed Greeks should be exempt from paying and that the Church of Greece should pay for some of its properties. He called for the Finance Ministry to make changes to the draft legislation before it is submitted to Parliament, possibly on Tuesday.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is likely to refer to the tax when he addresses the Thessaloniki International Fair today but his speech is set to focus on the conservatives? proposal for renegotiating the terms of Greece?s loan agreement with its lenders.

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