The devastating effect of harsh austerity measures has hit Greek property owners especially hard with statistics showing they are paying almost eight times more than they did in 2009 when the country’s crushing economic crisis began.
That was revealed in the government’s proposed 2014 budget which showed it aims to collect 3.93 billion euros ($5.28 billion) by squeezing home and land owners while letting tax cheats continue to escape.
The government brought in only 526 million euros ($712.72 million) in property taxes four years ago. In 2010, revenues were only 487 million euros ($659.89 million) because the Finance Ministry was unable to collect the FAP property tax which was supposed to be paid by the owners of properties worth 400,000 euros or more. Those with properties valued at under that amount did not have to pay.
In 2011, under pressure from international lenders, then-finance chief Evangelos Venizelos doubled property taxes and had them attached to utility bills under the threat of having power turned off for non-payment. Venizelos, the PASOK Socialist leader, is now Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader.
Under the Venizelos levy, property tax collections in 2011 jumped to 1.17 billion euros ($1.58 billion) and last year soared to 2.85 billion euros ($3.86 billion).
Direct taxes on properties for this year are expected to reach 2.78 billion euros ($3.76 billion) according to data presented Stratos Paradias, the president of the Panhellenic Federation of Property Owners (POMIDA).
The Draconian taxes coincided with property owners having to drastically lower rents because people buried by big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions couldn’t afford them, and with dramatic declines in the value of properties, magnifying the tax even more.