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Athens Court Rules “Emergency Property Tax via Electricity Bills is illegal”

An Athens court ruled on Tuesday that the practice to collect the emergency property tax through the electricity bills is illegal. Several consumers’ associations and lawyers’ organizations had filed a complained about the Public Power Company (DEH) collecting the emergency property tax.

The several  hundred euros of E.P.T levy have been skyrocketing the PPC-bills with the effect, many consumers to be unable to pay their bills and be at risk to have power cuts. According to official data by DEH, 30,000 power cuts take place per month.

According to lawyers’ organizations, the judgment of the Court is provisionally enforceable. That mean, the PPC must stop collecting the levy through the electricity bills,  even if  it appeals against the decision. In that case it will have to wait for the new court ruling.

Of course, it is not solely a question of PPC but of the finance ministry that had taken such a decision.

Greece’s highest administrative court had ruled last winter that the ’emergency property tax’ is against the constitution if collected for more than two years. It had also ruled that it was against the constitution to cut power of property owners if they do not pay the levy.

However, as it is tied to the electricity bill, and the PPC refuses to collect only the electricity amount, power cuts to poor households are especially painful.

Meanwhile, tax authorities are readying to send some 350,000 ‘levy bills’ to those who failed to pay the emergency property tax in 2011. Property owners are threatened with drastic measures like seizure of salaries, pensions, bank deposits and other mobile or not-mobile assets.

Emergency property tax for 2011 came in two tranches of minimum 300 euro.

For 2012, the emergency tax bill comes in five disbursements, which make it affordable for consumers to pay.

Given the high administrative court decision, Greek government plans to scrap the emergency property tax as such and introduce a unified property tax, a combination of emergency and regular taxes on properties.

PS nothing more ‘permanent’ than an ’emergency tax’…

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