ATHENS – Desperate for every euro and pounding people with austerity, the Greek government still has in place some 700 tax exemptions costing the state 3.6 billion euros ($4.41 billion) a year.
With most Greeks lining up at tax offices to pay a bevy of big tax hikes – that go along with big pay cuts, slashed pensions and worker firings – the government is insisting to international lenders that it won’t end the tax breaks, many which favor corporations.
The losses have been cut from 8 billion euros annually by getting rid of 180 other exemptions, most of those benefiting low-and-middle-income earners who are bearing the brunt of a crushing economic crisis while politicians, the rich and tax cheats largely escape.
The government is resisting demands from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to get rid of the exemptions.
The government, however, is not accepting at this stage the creditors’ recommendations for the abolition of the remaining exemptions, with the exception of those concerning value-added tax (VAT) and the special status enjoyed by various economic sectors and geographical areas, provided there will be similar procedures started for all eurozone members.
The exemptions that still apply, Kathimerini reported, are: 117 for income tax, 98 are in corporate income tax, 81 are VAT exemptions, 32 concern ship tax exemptions, 22 regard the single property tax, 36 are for taxes on inheritance etc, 29 regard the property transfer tax, 15 concern the capital concentration tax, 70 are about the tax stamp and 42 refer to consumption taxes.
The cost of exemptions to the special consumption taxes amount to an estimated 1.046 billion euros, more than half of which (578.57 million euros) concerns the loss of state revenues from exemptions and discounts in energy commodities such as fuel products, natural gas and electricity. Tax discounts on the consumption of alcoholic drinks amount to 465.8 million euros.