Crisis: Greece writes off 44 bln euros for tax cheats

04 March, 12:53

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, MARCH 4 - Under intense pressure from its international lenders, the Greek government said that after breaking repeated promises to do so, that this time it will chase tax cheats who owe 55.5 billion euros, although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said 80%, or about 44 billion, can't be collected because the debts are too old, companies have gone out of business, or for other reasons.

With tax revenues falling far short of expectations despite big tax hikes because austerity measures have made Greeks slow spending almost to a standstill – retail sales fell 32% in January, during an annual sales period offering discounts up to 80% – the government is desperate to find cash wherever it can and said it will finally start focusing on going after those who haven't paid, as GreekReporter website writes.

Expired debts are being placed into two groups, the daily Kathimerini reported, those that can be repaid and those that cannot, so that the monitoring mechanism can focus on cases that will bring quicker results and bolster state revenues. This is included in a draft law prepared by the Finance Ministry concerning the capital market.

As an incentive for tax cheats to pay what they owe, their fines will be reduced 80%, the government said, while other Greeks who have been paying taxes but can't because of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions will still have to pay 100% of what they owe, including doubled property taxes put into electric bills under threat of having power turned off for non-payment. Income taxes have also been doubled for those who pay them. (ANSAmed).

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