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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsEconomyFor Greeks, The Property Tax Bill is in the Mail

For Greeks, The Property Tax Bill is in the Mail

The first batch dreaded new “emergency” property tax statements being put into electric bills under the threat of having power turned off – or even garnishing wages and seizing properties for non-payment – has been sent off to Greeks who will have 40 days to pay up, or else. The Public Power Corporation said some 400,000 electricity bills with the first installment – more are expected next year although the tax was supposed to be one-off – were issued on Oct. 21, and another 300,000 will be sent next week.
The bills will range between 50 euro cents to 20 euros, or 69 cents to $27 per square meter of property and will especially affect those with multiple properties as well as many Greek Americans and others in the Diaspora and foreigners who own homes or properties in Greece. Some have already said they will be forced to sell their homes and move back to the countries of their origin. The move prompted the Secretary of World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)  Olga Sarantopoulos to send a letter to Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos asking him to exempt Greeks residents abroad. She suggested several measures and alterations on the tax bill for Greeks abroad she said would favor them as well as Greeks. Sarantopoulos said that Greeks of the Diaspora support Greece and their obligations as property owners and have been benefactors to the country in many ways and are an asset.
Earlier this month, protested occupied the printing offices of the utility company in an effort to prevent the bills from being sent and several dozen hung banners reading, “We are not going to stop providing electricity to the poor people even if they put us in jail,” but the government has stepped up its enforcement efforts in an attempt to avoid tax evasion that is rampant in the country. Working class Greeks though said they will again bear the brunt of revenue-raising measures aimed at keeping the country from going bankrupt while the country’s rich will avoid it again by hiding property assets from collectors.
When the tax imposed unilaterally by Venizelos was first approved by the Parliament in September, it set off a firestorm of outrage and many people said they would refuse to pay it or couldn’t afford to do so. “I’m a pensioner, I get 500 euros a month. This is absurd,” said Costas Papaioannou, a 65-year-old retired teacher. “I don’t have the money to pay it,” he said. “Let them come to my house, put me in jail. We have already gone bankrupt anyway.”

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