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New Tax Measures Still Not Clarified, Varoufakis Criticized

Yanis VaroufakisThe Greek government’s efforts to restructure the tax system have created confusion among taxpayers as various ministers make statements that contradict each other. At the same time, Athens is trying to attach a price to a package of measures to be presented at Monday’s Eurogroup.
On Monday, the finance ministry was busy with a long series of meetings led by Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis in order to put a price tag on proposed measures. Other than the list compiled to be presented to the Eurogroup by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, there will be another list of measures that will not be quantified.
Some members of the Greek cabinet have expressed frustration or disapproval over the ambiguous public statements made by the finance minister. Other government officials make personal statements and express opinions that leave taxpayers confused.
For instance, there is confusion over value added tax, exceptional levies and settlement of outstanding debts to the state.
The president of the Attica tax officers union and SYRIZA member Tryphon Alexiadis said on Mega television that exceptional levies proposed by Varoufakis is against government policy.
On the VAT subject, the increased taxation on tobacco, alcohol and games of chance was refuted by finance ministry officials. However Varoufakis expressed his view that the highest VAT rate of 23 percent should be reduced to 15-16 percent and low VAT (6.5 percent) on some products and services should go up.
If there is VAT restructuring, the tax reduction that now applies to the Aegean islands will probably be abolished. Hotel services, books, magazines, medicine that are now at 6.5 percent may go up.
Finally, on repayment of outstanding debts to the state, the secretariat of state revenues is counting on the incentive to write off part of the debt if debtors pay 50 percent of their dues. Meanwhile, Varoufakis told the Associated Press that debt capital will not be reduced, thereby generating confusion on the issue.

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