Confusion with Emergency Property Tax via Electricity Bills – Again!

Posted by in Economy

For one more time confusion prevail over the emergency property tax to be paid through electricity bill issued by the Public Power Company (DEH). After an Athens court ruled that it was illegal to collect the property levy though these bills, Greek media reported that the management of DEH instructed its branches to leave it up to consumers whether they will pay the levy through DEH. That is, that the consumer should go to local DEH branches and pay the electricity bill without the levy.

The instruction were apparently given unofficially as it is up to Finance Ministry to decide and not up to DEH.

However, the government will appeal the court decision.

Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras told Real FM on Friday, that is is not possible for DEH to stop collecting the property levy, claiming that “otherwise new additional austerity measures should be taken”. Stournaras also dared to cast doubt on the court jurisdiction.

“We look around for … legal arsenal. A first indication I have by our legal advicers is that the decision concerns only the parties that filed the complaint, therefore DEH should not stop collecting the levy. We  will certainly make an appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

According to the State Council, the levy via electricity bills does not violate the constitution. We will exhaust all our legal means. ”

“We will continue to collected the levy because it affects the public interest. We believe that the court had no jurisdiction to rule such a decision. That’s what my legal advisers tell me. You must know, that any interruption in the levy collection will mean that the revenues will be set back, we will have a problem and that we will need to take other measures, very painful measures.”

 What Stournaras failed to say is that the Council of State had ruled that the property levy did not violate the Constitution as long it was ‘temporary’ thus for only two years. The emergency property tax has been implemented for 2011 and 2012 and there seems to be no sign to scrap it.

Of course, even if  the property levy was to be scrapped from DEH bills, this does not mean that property owners would escape the payment. It’s just that the Finance Ministry mechanism’s are unable to control and double check data even two and a half years after the first loan agreement and the bailout mechanism. Therefore, the blackmail “pay the emergency property tax to have electricity.”

All these changes and changes attempts and court rulings and circulars and new circulars and old circulars have cost the state and the citizens much more than the real benefits of collecting it. 350,000 property owners did not pay the property levy in 2011.