Greek Debtors Rush to 10-Year State Installment Plan

FILE - People sit and walk on the steps of central Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament, in Athens, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Debtors in Greece who money for the state are jumping at the chance to take an offer to repay over as long as 10 years and have bank accounts unblocked to prevent confiscation of deposits and assets.

The plan approved by the new New Democracy government has lured more than 318,000 taxpayers, said Kathimerini, including companies who don’t want to tangle with authorities and prefer a longer repayment period.

The numbers are expected to top 500,000 by the Sept. 30 deadline to sign up. The program began on Sept. 5 via an online platform, seeing 17,000 sign up instantly. The amount owed is some 1.87 billion euros ($2.06 billion) plus another 604 million euros ($666.77 million.)

A Finance Ministry official who wasn’t named told the paper companies can pay as little as 230 euros ($253.90) monthly over the full term of the plan although those who cheat on taxes haven’t been caught in most cases or, when they are, aren’t fully prosecuted.

By the end of the year, the ministry expects to have collected more than 500 million euros ($551.96 million) from the debt repayment program. Besides the longer term to pay, users can also avoid freezing of their incomes, deposits and assets, a reduction in interest and penalties and even the possibility of including new debts with those from previous years.

The program also provides for the inclusion of all debts that became overdue up to Dec. 31, 2018, with a 10 percent discount on interest and on penalties. It allows for repayment for debts up to 1 million euros ($1.1 million) and in up to 36 installments for amounts over that.