Circular clarifies property tax queries [Update]

The Finance Ministry on Friday issued a much-awaited circular clarifying which social groups will be eligible for special terms for a controversial new property tax.

According to the circular, those who are more than 80 percent disabled will be taxed at a lower rate. Also, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) will not cut the power supply of property owners who do not pay the levy in cases where the taxpayers have serious health problems. The same will apply to those who do not have any form of income or other asset apart from the property in question.

Commenting on the changes, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos stressed that «there will be no power cuts to those who are genuinely unable to pay the tax» but he added that those who have the means to pay the levy but simply refuse to do so «will not be permitted to shirk their responsibilities within the broader national effort.”

The circular also foresees the creation of tripartite committees ? comprising one tax official, one social worker and one police officer ? which will check which cases fulfill the terms for the above concessions.

The document also determined what property-owners should do in the event of receiving excessively large levies, which have been calculated on the basis of erroneous data about the size and location of their homes. Applications for corrections to property tax bills should be submitted to the corresponding municipal authorities by January 20. Any difference will be deducted from next year?s property tax bill.

Meanwhile the Council of State, the country?s highest administrative court, was to consider the legality of the government?s decision to impose a tax via electricity bills. The court is considering the matter following countless appeals against the tax and is expected to issue a verdict within the next two months.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos broached the issue of the tax in Parliament on Friday, responding to a question by Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga.

Papademos said the levy could not be revoked if the government is to meet its deficit reduction targets but noted that special terms would apply for large families on low incomes, the disabled and the long-term unemployed. ?The revised law aims to correct mistakes and ensure social justice,? the premier said.

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