Emergency tax set to become permanent

The emergency property tax, which the government said less than two weeks ago would be introduced for two years in order to fill a gap in Greece?s public finances, will instead become a permanent feature of the country?s tax code.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos tabled the tax legislation in Parliament and revealed that the tax will apply as an emergency measure this year and next and will then become part of the national taxation system, which means that it will apply annually.

Sources suggested that the emergency levy may replace an already existing property tax after 2012 but the government has not yet given any public indication that this might happen.

Venizelos announced a change to the law that would allow the long-term unemployed who have an annual income of less than 12,000 euros to be exempt from the tax. Families with three or more children and disabled people will pay the minimum rate of 0.50 euros per square meter.

Depending on the real estate valuations set by each tax office, homeowners will have to pay up to 16 euros per square meter for their properties each year.

However, the legislation is being challenged in court. Athens lawyer and former New Democracy candidate Angelos Tsigris Thursday submitted the first challenge with the Council of State, Greece?s highest administrative court. The Athens Bar Association is expected to ask the Supreme Court to review the property tax and the other austerity measures announced this week.

Parliament is due to vote on the real estate tax on Tuesday.

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