Normally, compensations and extra allowances paid by the state are tax-free and cannot be seized if the beneficiary has debts to tax authorities or social security funds. This is what a man whose home was burned down in deadly wildfires of July also thought.
He was proven wrong.
From the 5,000 euro the state transferred to his bank account as compensation, the unemployed man was left with just 1,250 euros, the minimum on a bank account tax authorities cannot seize.
The moment the 5000 euro were booked on his account on August 6th, the automatic hand of the tax authorities grabbed the amount the Greek state has calculated it belonged to the Greek state.
The man’s debt was mounting 4,500 euros due to unpaid unified property tax ENFIA.
Thanos Kazakidis turned to media to seek for advise and showed also the relevant government legislation that forbids confiscation of the compensation, as published in the Official Gazette. He was trying to recover the money from the bank but it is the tax office that has to correct the error.
The man was living with his mother who has mobility problems.
“I packed my mother and the dog and we left,” he briefly said about how they escaped the deadly wildfire.
The family has been hosted by relatives since July 23rd.
Their home has been totally burned down as one sees behind the man on the video. Double checks by authorities have confirmed that they can no longer live there.
The 5,000 euro is just a temporary relief, a very short breath for those who lost everything on the fires and urgently need to cover basic needs.
Survivors who lost relatives in the fire receive a compensation of 10,000 euros.
Pensioners will receive extra two pensions.
So far, 3,830 residents of the fire-stricken areas have applied for the one-off compensation at the local authorities. Of them 1,322 have been submitted to Rafina-Pikermi, 1,500 to Marathonas (Mati, Neos Voutzas). 574 applications have been submitted in Megara Municipality due to West Attica wildfire also on 23. July, and 414 applications directly to Infrastructure Ministry.
Applications are reviewed in quick space. By Augst 13th, a total of 1,004 natural persons have received the 5,000 euros, while 43 business owners have received the 8,000 euros compensation.
In the latest series of measures to fire-stricken residents in east Attica, the government has allocated 132,000,000 euros to restore damages in houses and business places.
€1,000 per sq meter for houses that have to be demolished and size of up to 150 sq meters.
€500 per sq meter for houses that need just repair.
UPDATE: After the turmoil with many media to have criticized the confiscation as “shame” the issue was solved with decision by the General Secretary of Independent Authority for Public Revenues. GS Giorgos Pitsilis reportedly spoke with the Kazakidis and had the confiscation of the fire compensation revoked.
Pitsilis has advised tax offices to not seize money from accounts when they see the 5,000 fire compensation.
The tax office does not know if it is a no-seizable compensation or allowance, it only sees money in the bank accounts, Pitsilis said.