ATHENS – It’s not what Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras wants to hear as he said he’s bringing the country to a recovery – but that it can’t pay its debt – but a survey said many Greeks think the tax system is unfair and too hard to keep up with.
Tsipras, reneging on promises to reverse austerity, has instead imposed an avalanche of taxes, with a corporate rate of 29 percent and the government has agreed to tax lower-and-moderate income families for the first time in either 2019 or 2020.
The findings by the Athens-based DiaNEOsis research and policy institute showed that 42 percent of respondents last year felt tax reform should be a top priority while 41 percent believed that “tax evasion is a necessary defense against excessive taxation,” as Tsipras has not reined in the cheats as he vowed.
Some 37 percent said tax dodging is so prevalent because people believe the tax system is unfair, with the wealthy escaping with near-impunity and hiding their income in secret foreign bank accounts.
Another 86 percent said lower tax rates would help attract the foreign investors that Tsipras said are critical to a recovery at the same time elements in his party don’t want them in Greece and are trying to block major developments.
The survey, done in conjunction with the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) think tank, reiterated repeated findings that the tax system is complicated, unfair and dysfunctional and subject to constant change, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said in a report.
It added that extraordinary direct taxes increased by 94 percent between 2008-16 while taxes on property went up 700 percent, leading to many people unable to pay and facing foreclosure by the state using electronic auctions.
Taxes on economic production in 2015 reached 16.1 percent of GDP, up from 12.7 percent, while Greece ranked third on a list of European Union countries for the highest social insurance contributions rates.