Greek Business Leaders Say Overtaxing Bringing Them Down

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis, FILE)

ATHENS – Buried by tax hikes imposed by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition that promised to cut them, a group representing  small-and-medium sized business owners in Greece have put together a plan to reduce the burden.

Greece’s Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) presented figures showing the country, behind only Malta, leads the Eurozone in taxes assessed on businesses, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras let loose an avalanche of hikes on orders of international lenders.

That was based on taxes compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that has shrunk some 25 percent during a more than eight-year-long economic crisis that was worsened for many by brutal austerity measures that Tsipras said he would reverse but added more.

ESEE said that despite the high levels of taxation in the country, more revenues are not generated, either as a percentage of the state’s take or in absolute terms, compared to other countries with lower rates, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

The trade group said that in a recent survey of 250,000 SMEs in Greece, 80 percent reported losses or zero profits, and only one in 10 claimed they generated profits exceeding 60,000 euros on an annual basis.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos earlier had admitted deliberately overtaxing some sectors so that the government, lagging in polls after Tsipras broke promises to help workers, pensioners and the poor, could give handouts to lower-income pensioners whose benefits had been slashed, and to jobless youth.