Greek Rent Subsidy Applications Show Widespread Tax Cheating

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis, FILE)

ATHENS – With the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA on a barrage of handouts in a bid to win favor during an election year, a program to provide rent subsidies has shown to be rife with applicants reportedly cheating on taxes.

The forms are still being processed online as part of more welfare measures being given by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has fallen far in polls after repeatedly reneging on anti-austerity promises since being elected in 2015.

The most common example of tax evasion deals with lease agreements that have not been electronically submitted to the tax bureau, as well as contracts without the exact monthly rent fee cited, or, the duration of the lease, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

The process has also seen landlords and tenants quarreling over some aspects over documents needed to back up the claims to get free rent money, and with reports said to be showing many owners demanding tenants pay a 100-euro ($113.54) fine imposed by the tax bureau for electronically filing a lease agreement after its date of activation.

The state-run e-Government Center for Social Security Service said up to the morning of March 17, more than 163,000 applications had been filed online but only 60,000 processed and some 75,000 put on hold, with the rest, 38,000, rejected.

Of the applications on “stand by,” about 34,000 required the approval (consent) of other adult tenants residing in the same residence for which the subsidy is requested. Approval, however, requires personal login and username codes with the tax bureau.

Another 30,000 applications still await corroborating documents proving that an applicant has resided in Greece for the previous five years.