Newly appointed Greek Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis on Wednesday announced planned changes to the 100-installment payment schemes for overdue taxes but reassured listeners that no “tax hurricane” was imminent.
“There is no chance that we will create problems and no chance that the finance ministry will shoot itself in the foot,” Alexiadis said on the air, in an interview with the ANA-MPA radio station “Praktorio 104.9.”
A “dogmatic” approach that would increase overdue debts to the public sector would not help the Greek economy, he pointed out. “This measure was directed at a very large portion of the population…exceeding one million Tax Registration Numbers….We found that there were both mistakes and some exaggerations. We found, in other words, that people with the ability to pay had used the measure not to service their debts but to take advantage of the public sector,” he explained. The terms of the scheme would be “fine-tuned” to exclude those that had access to sufficient funds to pay their overdue debts to the state, he added.
Alexiadis said that tax-payers need not fear a “tax storm,” noting that the government “will continue to fight for the implementation of the constitution, in other words the just distribution of tax burdens,” within the framework of the agreement with the country’s lenders.
As a part of this effort, the ministry intended to redouble efforts to crack down on tax evasion and contraband trade in order to generate additional revenues, he said. “What many critics forget to mention is that the agreement includes a clause stipulating that VAT rates will be re-examined in 2016 if we are able to exceed targets for catching tax evasion,” he pointed out.
Finally, he promised that the ministry will be “realistic” in its approach to collecting tax from businesses: “If you have a business that is choking in debt to the tax office and banks, you will shut it down. In which case, you cannot collect even what is already owed. Even the hardest and most unfeeling economist cannot recommend this.”