Big reduction for tax cheats due to be withdrawn

An amendment that would have granted taxpayers an 80 percent discount on tax fines and interest charged on unpaid penalties is to be withdrawn Thursday after complaints that it would also let off the hook Greeks who face fines for not declaring money they transferred abroad, potentially including some of the depositors on the so-called Lagarde list.

The draft legislation, which has already been submitted to Parliament, foresees taxpayers who accept the results of financial probes into any earnings from 2008 and earlier being able to settle up with authorities by immediately paying 20 percent of the amount they owe in fines and interest. Current legislation grants cooperative taxpayers a 40 percent discount if they agree to pay in six installments.

Kathimerini understands that the amendment, which drew negative publicity in reports that tied it to the Lagarde list, met with the disapproval of the troika.

Those conducting a parliamentary inquiry into the list of some 2,000 Greeks who held accounts at the Geneva branch of HSBC were deciding Tuesday how to proceed after the four relatives of ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou who were allegedly removed from the list declined to appear before the committee.

The account holders, two of Papaconstantinou’s cousins and their spouses, said they had already explained that the money had been transferred abroad legally. The ex-minister’s relatives also claimed they did not have a close relationship with Papaconstantinou due to political differences and that if in theory he had wanted to secretly remove their names from the list, he would have done so to protect his own reputation, not theirs.

Sources said that MPs on the committee decided to wait for a report into the accounts held by Papaconstantinou’s relatives before deciding whether to force them to testify in person.

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