NEWS

Tax breaks on the way

A range of tax adjustments are being lined up for low-income earners and pensioners from next year, government sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini, in a move that will have a knock-on effect for middle-income groups as well. The reforms are based on the decision by the ruling conservatives to raise the annual tax-free salary level to 13,000 euros by 2009. Currently, the first 11,000 euros earned by all workers are tax-free. This figure is set to be raised to 12,000 euros next year. Raising the tax-free figure to 13,000 euros means that 3.5 million low-paid workers and pensioners will not have to pay any tax at all, compared to 3.1 million people at the 11,000-euro limit, according to government figures. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis has also examined the possibility of introducing some breaks for people with higher wages. According to sources, he informed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis last week that public finances allow some room to maneuver. Alogoskoufis met with Karamanlis to discuss the reforms as the premier prepares to deliver his economic policy speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair in less than two weeks. Karamanlis is expected to unveil the changes during his address. People earning between 12,000 and 30,000 euros will pay 29 percent tax from next year. The tax rate for those who are paid 30,000-100,000 euros will be 39 percent. The government wants to reduce these rates to 25 and 35 percent respectively by 2009. If these changes are introduced, someone earning an annual salary of 25,000 euros will pay 2,750 euros a year in taxes – some 1,000 euros less than the current amount deducted, sources said. The Economy and Finance Ministry is set to make public in the next few days tables detailing the benefits to wage earners under the changing tax system.