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Economy

Debtors Owe Greek State 105.6 Billion Euros, Much Seen Uncollectible

February 24, 2020

ATHENS – Generations of uncollected tax debts in Greece have driven up the amount due the state to a staggering 105.6 billion euros ($114.2 billion,) after the bills jumped another 1.3 billion euros ($1.41 billion) in 2019.

The total amount – most seen uncollectible as it goes back 30 years or and includes companies that went bust or aren’t around anymore – is some 57.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 185.21 billion euros ($200.3 billion.)

Even more than the total, however, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, is how much it went up just in 2019, a period of political tumult as New Democracy ousted the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA in July 7, 2019 snap elections.

No government, despite promises of getting tough and periodic crackdowns, has been able to rein in tax evasion, with many wealthy Greeks also hiding their income in secret foreign bank accounts and outside the reach of the law.

According to the independent authority for public assets, 84.1 billion euros ($90.95 billion) of the arrears is still on the books as being able to be collected while the rest – 21.5 billion euros ($23.25 billion) will never be collected.

It wasn’t explained how the government expects to get the rest as it can take a decade or longer to prosecute tax cheats although many debtors are taking advantage of a plan giving them up to 10 years to repay what they owe.

The figure includes arrears owed to the social insurance funds, also going back decades while the installment plans are covering arrears of only some 6.5 billion euros ($7.03 billion) with another 11 billion euros ($11.9 billion) owed state funds.

More than four million taxpayers registered in Greece have arrears to the tax bureau, ranging from a few euros to millions in debt, the paper also said.

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