ATHENS – More than 200,000 Greek taxpayers on July 14th submitted electronic tax returns to beat an extended deadline, but another 100,000 who didn’t make it may have to pay big fines and penalties.
Greek taxpayers can only file returns on the Internet and not by paper, making it difficult for those who don’t have computers or know how to use them. The system allows Greece to instantly determine how much of a tax is due the state or will be returned in refunds, although pensioners who file for benefits have to wait a year or longer to get paid.
The government said 5.67 million people filed on time although some late-rushers or procrastinators were shut out in the last few days leading up to the deadline because the system can only process 170,000-200,000 returns daily.
The first installment for those having to pay more tax is scheduled for the end of July although some businesses have to pay an estimated amount in advance as Greece is desperate to bring in cash to help offset a crushing economic crisis and because so many wealthy hide their money in secret foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes, putting the burden on workers, pensioners and the poor.
There wasn’t an announcement about how the late filers would be treated as it has been customary in Greece to keep extending the deadline until all returns are in, but this year the government said that wouldn’t happen again.
That means that those who didn’t file on time could have to pay fines as well as lose the benefit of getting a tax reduction by attaching receipts up to 25 percent of their income or a 2,100-euro exemption, as those would not be accepted, incurring an additional penalty.
Also, at the end of July, the Finance Ministry will start sending electronic notifications to taxpayers regarding the payment of the new Single Property Tax.
That will be payable either in a lump sum with a 1.5 percent discount, or in up to six installments, the first one being by end-July or more likely by end-August.
Many Greeks have been hard hit by big tax hikes that, along with pay cuts and slashed pensions, are part of harsh austerity measures imposed by the government to satisfy international lenders. The rich, politicians, and tax cheats have largely escaped sacrifice.