ATHENS – Amidst taxpayer fury over astronomical property tax bills the government has admitted are wrong – but have to paid anyway for now – Greece is planning gradual reductions in the assessments.
The bills are incorporated into the new unified ENFIA that includes the hated “Haratsi” tax imposed by current PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos when he was finance minister in a previous administration. He is now Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras.
But there’s a condition in the reduction plan. Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said it can happen only as long as Greece’s property tax base widens although tax cheats are still largely escaping prosecution.
He also said the idea of giving discounts on properties that are empty and without electricity wouldn’t be discussed until sometime later. Owners of the properties said they need reductions because they aren’t drawing any income from them.
At the same time, the minister made clear that the matter of ENFIA discounts on properties not connected to the country’s power grid – one of many issues that have surrounded the new tax this summer – would be examined at a latter date.
Hardouvelis said the aim was for all revenues to be collected from the new tax, which replaces the so-called FAP tax and a levy paid via electricity bills, to be passed on to local governments.
The ENFIA, whose implementation is being delayed, has been changed a number of times in an attempt to make it fairer with taxpayers howling in anger.
The revisions, expected to be submitted to Parliament on Aug. 28 with the objective of having the new tax up and running by mid-September, include six, instead of five, monthly installments, beginning in late September. Also, earthquake victims in Cephalonia will be exempted for a year.
There was no word whether Greece’s international lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) would go along with the plan as they want Greece to meet fiscal targets to bring in more money.