Multi-bill goes to House

Draft fore­sees stricter penal­ties for tax eva­sion, higher taxes for prop­erty own­ers

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The gov­ern­ment yesterday sub­mit­ted to Par­lia­ment a multi-bill con­tain­ing a first set of prior ac­tions that Greece has pledged to cred­i­tors, in­clud­ing phas­ing out early re­tire­ment, in­tro­duc­ing stricter penal­ties for tax eva­sion and rais­ing taxes for Greeks who rent out their prop­er­ties.

The bill is to be put up for de­bate be­fore be­ing voted on, likely on Fri­day night when Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras is ex­pected to have re­turned to Athens from a Euro­pean Union lead­ers’ sum­mit on mi­gra­tion.

MPs of Tsipras’s left­ist party SYRIZA met yesterday to dis­cuss the bill, which is ex­pected to pro­voke ve­he­ment de­bate in Par­lia­ment but is al­most cer­tain to pass into law. Only one coali­tion MP, Nikos Nikolopou­los of the rightwing In­de­pen­dent Greeks, in­di­cated that he would break ranks with the gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment must leg­is­late the re­forms to un­lock the first 2-bil­lion-euro tranche of res­cue loans from Greece’s third bailout.

The bill fore­sees sev­eral changes that Greece has promised to cred­i­tors as re­gards civil ser­vants and pen­sions, in­clud­ing phas­ing out early re­tire­ments by 2022 so that all Greeks work un­til the age of 67. Those who qual­i­fied for a pen­sion be­fore Au­gust 18 of this year will be ex­empt from the changes. Mean­while, those who have al­ready re­tired but have yet to reach the age of 67 are to see their pen­sion pay­ments cut by 10 per­cent. A com­pre­hen­sive over­haul of Greece’s pen­sion sys­tem is ex­pected to be pre­sented by Greek author­i­ties to cred­i­tors next month.

The draft leg­is­la­tion to be de­bated by Greek MPs this week also raises the tax rate on rental in­come from 11 to 15 per­cent for an­nual in­comes be­low 12,000 eu­ros and from 33 to 35 per­cent for an­nual in­comes above 12,000 eu­ros. The new rates are to ap­ply retroac­tively from Jan­uary 1, 2015. Prop­erty own­ers will also be obliged to pay tax on rental in­come that they have not col­lected. The Hel­lenic Prop­erty Fed­er­a­tion re­acted an­grily to the pro­vi­sions, call­ing them “bru­tal mea­sures.”

Re­spond­ing to pres­sure from lenders to curb tax eva­sion, the bill out­lines tougher penal­ties for those not pay­ing their dues. Of­fend­ers face up to two years in jail.

The bill also fore­sees the dereg­u­la­tion of the gas mar­ket and tighter cri­te­ria for the pro­tec­tion of home­own­ers strug­gling with re­pay­ments.

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