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Emergency Property Tax: The Total Confusion!

If I were a surgeon, I would have raised my hands towards the sky and I would have said to the patient’s relatives “We did all we could. Now the patient is in God’s hands”. A similar clueless … moment happened to me in the last twelve hours, last night and today, when i was trying to understand what’s up with the emergency property tax and the new-old-additional ruling after the Council of State ruled that ‘”cutting the electricity is against the constitution”.

So far, I watched three times the spokesman of Greek Power Company DEH on television and what I have understood after all this talk,  journalists’ questions and spokesman’s answers is that :

a) if you don’t pay the emergency property tax the state can confiscate even your property. Which is in no way a ‘fair’ trade between a debt of let’s say 1,000 euro and a flat worth 110,000 euro. This issue of confiscation should be worth another appeal at the Council of State IMHO.

b) DEH has difficulties to follow the Finance Ministry decisions and circulars.

3) DEH personnel has difficulties to follow the DEH management decisions. Deh tells consumers they cannot pay only the electricity, DEH personnel tells consumer sto pay only the electricity at ATMs

4) People stand long queues outside DEH offices to pay either only the electricity bill, or just the emergency property tax or both.

5) DEH would not cut electricity to those eligible to be exempted from the tax.

6) The decision of the Council of State will need several weeks/month (?) to come into effect. What will happen until then? Will DEH cut the electricity to those not paying the tax? Apparently YES, but practically NO!?

7) I want to move to a civilized country.

I’m sorry for the incovenience. IF DEH and the Finance Ministry do not know, how can I know?

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  1. Well, actually, that tax evasion has dire consequences IS typical for civilized states. You will land in prison, or at least be fined heavily, and if you still not pay of course your property will be confiscated. Everyhting else would be unfair to the honest citizens who pay their dues. Of course, before that happens to you, you will have the chance to protest unfair decisions or mistake tby the tax collection office, and eventually have your day at court.

    The difference in Greece seems to be rather that the whole procedure is totally screwed up. You have to pay in cash, and queue up at several different office counters, really? No simple bank transfer, not even checques allowed? That’s so 19th century!

    Then, instead of making the rules and the process transparent, the administration time and again manages to create totally unnecessary confusion, as you rightly point out. There seem to be exceptions from the property tax for those who are under economical hardship, but the people haven’t been informed that in time, and it still doesn’t seem to be clear who has to pay. The idea to communicate with the agency via cell phone texting may be a good one in other, organized nations, but in Greece it of course only resulted in yet anohter mess. And the whole concept of adding the property tax to the electricity bills certainly was born out of pure despair, in the understandable desire to get hold of those who routinely evaded being taxed so far. But since the administration doesn’t have good data on who owns what property and who pays the DEH bills this inevitably led to more chaos, unfairness, and inconveniences for the people.

    All in all, it’s very understandable that people have enough of that madness. But without tax incomes, there’s no chance the state will ever become self sufficient again. So, the tax collection laws and administration should be a top priority on the governments reform list. But where are the proposals?

    • keeptalkinggreece

      communicate via cell phone? where? here? here the common practice is one DEH man climbs on an electricity post and shouts the circulars to a DEH man in another village. Until the decicions reach lets say NE Greece from Athens, a lot of musunderstanding and delays have torn out people’s nerves. What is usual here, is that one bill is written hastily, and the holes are slowly filled when the society complains.

      • Hey, ktg, I’m a bit surprised this is news to you:
        “Those social groups exempted from the emergency property tax or those to pay reduced prices will have to send SMS to the Ministry and declare they belong to these groups. You have to send SMS to Mobile number The SMS must include: the letters ETA- space- private Taxation number- number of supply on DEH electricity bill (it is the second number next to the number of electricity counter, it reads ΑΡΙΘΜΟΣ ΠΑΡΟΧΗΣ and is a 12-digit number).”
        Lol. Nice to see that I’m not the only one here who occasionally has memory blackouts! 😀
        Btw, of course it turned out the phone number for the SMS wasn’t working. What else? That’s so Greek.

        • keeptalkinggreece

          – “Objection!” -“Sustained!” The SMS number was working, people had sent their requests, however some got the answer that the clearance from the tax office for 2011 was not ready yet. therefore, a number of those to be excempted got or pay reduced prices got the full bill. Further, there were mistakes in the calculations of the property tax and new circulars that excempted could be also those who can prove they are financially unable to pay this tax. Result: many of these people had to go to the tax office and ask for reduction or excemption. After 6 months of implementation of the property tax, confusion still prevails.

    • @Gray. Glad to see you finally understand. 😆

      • Thx, Antonis! 😀 Hey, I understand a lot, I’m not one of those guys who ignore very real problems just because they don’t fit nicely into their world view. Imho blind partisanship stands in the way of many solutions. For instance, afaics neither conservative nor liberal (in the US meaning of the word) values include corruption and inefficiency. So, why shouldn’t it be possible to find common ground for reforms? It’s only the Greek vs German and right vs. left polarisation that prevents improvements that every reasonable person should see as urgently necessary!

    • So the actual problem is that people are obliged to wait in lines, not that more than householders are being to forced to pay an unbearable tax, just in case they get those who used to tax evade for the last 100 years.

      Don’t worry, all the multinational enerprises like Siemens, the deeply rich greek shipowners, Yianna Aggelopoulou, George Papandreou, Loukas Papademos etc, will be getting richer and richer as we suffer.
      Tax incomes is important but don’t forget that many revolutions have started when goverments have reached the point of draining their people through taxes.

      When the day comes that a civilised European citizen has to pay more than 1000 euro for an electricity bill over a span of 4 months (without having any previous debts to the electricity company), then we shall see how important tax incomes are. When the day comes that your 90-year old grandma with Alzheimer’s who lives in a 50 square metres apartment has to pay a 600 hundred euros electricity bill over the span of 4 months, or else, then we shall see your reactions. When the day comes that your country decides to add a new tax to the equation every month, exceptions being hard to none, reducing your income by 30-50% (only by taxes, cutbacks cause further reduction) and on top of everything else you lose your job but are still forced to pay, then we shall see some reactions.

      I as a Greek am used to standing in lines. What I am not used to is draining the living heart out of me. The idea that we did not pay any taxes for the last 70 years and that we should continue paying even und ever more is absurd. In a country with 30% unemployment, 50% being only for people under 25 years old, 1/3 living with less that 3000 euros a year, thousands of people leaving abroad, immigrating to find a decent job, I really don’t need any more lectures from civilised European citizens that I should pay my taxes.

      If the whole of noble, northern Europe has paid its taxes and we dirty, lazy, tax-evading Greeks not, then how come its debt is even bigger than ours? Even before us receiving all the “bailouts”, countries like England and Belgium were traditionally debt-ridden receiving nonetheless AAA evaluations ,when we were financial garbage.

      How come the whole globe is in debt?? Is it Greece’s fault too? I really should get to my tax-paying before causing a tsunami in Thailand, a famine in Somalia or an earthquake in San Francisco.

      • keeptalkinggreece

        is that what you understood? that the only actual probelm is people waiting in lines?

        • The poll tax through the electricity bills in Greece is unfair and anti-humanistic and it is causing the greek citizens’ suppression with their properties attached by a state that is violating repeatedly their constitutional rights.

          This poll tax (it is called haratsi in Greece) has to be canceled.

          United we Stand.

  2. Hairspray, really, ktg? You’re female, or, uh, a guy who takes great pride in the perfect appearance of his hair?

  3. 7) I want to move to a civilized country.

    Let’s start a company that provides text and images and base that in another country? 💡

    [shoot: can’t add 6+8 it seems… must be some Greek austerity virus 👿 ]

  4. I think we should just leave it up the honest and integrity of the Greek citizen to do the right thing.

    Just leave a box outside each church and who ever wants to donate money to the Greek government can put money in it.

    Then the government can go and collect teh money weekly and use it to help pay the Troika loan.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      excellent idea!!! I think they had even set up a ‘help-the-state’ account. I don’t remember how much they collected but even the politicians did not help with generous donations lol