ATHENS – Greece’s middle class – which the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA admitted deliberately over-taxing to benefit the more vulnerable – pays 51 percent of all the money collected by the state.
That was based on figures released by the Hellenic Federation of Employers (SEV), based on data from the national statistical authority ELSTAT said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, showing a pattern of deliberately going after the middle class to put the burden on them during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis.
Successive Greek governments, including a former New Democracy-PASOK coalition, pounded the middle class with an avalanche of tax hikes, as well as pay and pension cuts, as part of terms to get three bailouts of 326 billion euros ($352.53 billion.)
The middle class pays just over one of every two euros the state collects, compared toi 39.3 percent before the crisis began late in 2009 with governments shying away from taxing the country’s billionaire-class shipping tycoons.
Former premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras swore he would put a 75 percent tax on the rich, tax the shipping owners and “crush the oligarchy,” but – like other prime ministers before him, also backed down, putting the burden on workers, pensioners and the poor.
At the same time, the higher-income classes reportedly shrunk over the same period, both in terms of numbers and reported income, down to at 38.1 percent, down from 50 percent before the crisis.
According to the report, even higher tax rates were enacted in 2016, while tax-free ceiling left annual reported incomes below 10,000 euros ($10,814) untouched,d leading many self-employed and even professionals, such as doctors, saying they made less than that so they could avoid being taxed.
Many of Greece’s wealthy also hide their income in secret foreign bank accounts driving up the total due to state as high as 80 billion euros ($86.51 billion,) most of it deemed uncollectible and no government yet able to rein in tax cheats.