Greeks shiver at heating oil levy

With the government expected to announce in coming weeks just how consumers will be protected from a higher tax on heating oil, officials are releasing some details of the decision in order to allay fears that households will be paying considerably more to stay warm this winter. The government has announced that it will increase the tax on heating oil in an attempt to eradicate its illegal trade, which is costing Greece about 3 billion euros in lost tax revenues every year. Government officials have stressed that households and farmers will be protected from the higher levy, but those affected are not convinced. Tax on heating oil is expected to reach 245 euros per thousand liters from the current 21 euros per thousand liters. Given the current rally in international oil prices, some estimates see the price of heating oil more than doubling this winter. Government sources said yesterday the levy will be returned to taxpayers via their electricity bill. The refund will be based on the size of each house as measured in square meters – information that is on file with the Public Power Corporation. It is not clear whether there will be an amount refunded or whether the sum will be offset against each household’s electricity bill. Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday that the government will present a detailed plan by the end of the month. The plan also projects dividing the country into three zones based on each part’s climate.

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