ATHENS – Greece’s new coalition government, which vowed to go after tax cheats who owe 70 billion euros, is instead offering them a tax break.
The government said people who have undeclared incomes can escape prosecution – few are charged anyway – if they pay a one-off tax of 21 percent to avoid further penalties, fines or criminal action.
The deal applies to whether the money is in Greek banks or secreted abroad in foreign banks, a haven for rich Greeks who want to avoid paying taxes.
The offer came out of a meeting between Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and State Minister for Combating Corruption Panayiotis Nikoloudis who concluded that there should be a single rate for the legalization of incomes placed in Greece and abroad.
Originally the ministry had drafted a bill with a 15 percent tax for deposits abroad and a 30 percent tax for those in Greece, but Nikoloudis expressed strong opposition to such a discrepancy as it would penalize people who kept their money at home and give a break to those who took it out of the country.