A hailstorm of taxes

We had a deluge yesterday – unusual for this time of year, but extremely providential, as it helped control a huge forest fire. These are the bane of Greek summers, so the water, in spite of causing some damage, was appreciated.  At the same time – much less appreciated – we have a deluge of taxes pouring down on us: new taxes, as well as increases in old ones. More are expected (threatened?) in September.

There is a saying ‘Ουκ αν λάβοις παρά του μη έχοντος’ (you can’t take from him who does not have) – a little like ‘You cannot get blood from a stone’. It’s a mythological reference to Charon, who was the ferryman in Hades, carrying the souls of the deceased from one bank of the river Styx to the other. His fee was one obolus, and a coin was placed under the tongues of the dead, so that they would be able to pay him. But I digress. My point is that people are at the end of their tether – they have no more money.


image
Fact
: 20,000 businesses will close in the next six months – we are quite a small economy, and that is on top of the many thousands that have already closed since the crisis started. How come the eggheads in Brussels don’t understand that if they don’t restart the economy they’ll never get their money back? Our government doesn’t seem to get it, either.

Fact: A lot of taxpayers are getting advice from their accountants to close their books or else they’ll be forced to close up shop. This is especially true in the case of professionals and freelancers like physiotherapists, masseurs, dog trainers, hairdressers, small shop owners and the like. Many are being forced into the ‘black economy’.

Fact: the new laws that are meant to alleviate matters for the less well-off result in the following logistics:
Someone whose income is €30.000 but declares €10.000, receives child support and the right to send one child to daycare for free. His disposable income after tax is €26.657,9.
Someone whose income is €30.000 and declares €30.000, receives no child support and has to pay for daycare. His disposable income after tax is €13.543,4 i.e. half of the evader’s.

Fact: in spite of the increase in taxation, the total of taxes collected keeps decreasing. Does this have anything at all to do with the above?(duh…)

Those who, for reasons of honesty or because they can’t do otherwise, pay their taxes, end up also paying for the rest. At the same time, the state is happily robbing a good part of the population, by not paying what it owes them while refusing to offset what they owe with what they are owed.

Fact: A lot of Greeks cannot afford to go on holiday once again this year, as seen by hotel bookings. So it is left to foreign tourists to enjoy the island life…

PS. I made a cheerful drawing, since my subject matter is so depressing…

29 thoughts on “A hailstorm of taxes

  1. Little incentive to be honest and pay taxes properly, is there? And what are the consequences for those who are not declaring all their income? I fear the state is not doing a very good job of managing those situations, so it really becomes a very unfair distribution. (Of wealth and of taxes).

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  2. It is so interesting to read this, from the point of view of someone who actually has to endure all the cuts and increases in tax. Some things are so unfair. We still see lots of evidence of the black economy on the islands, where they do not give you a proper receipt for a taverna meal, or in a small shop when you pay cash. It is the ones who pay, who pay for the others, as you say.

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  3. Do they ever catch people cheating on their taxes? And if so, what are the penalties? It’s hard to blame those on low incomes for trying to claw back a little, because it may be the difference between just about doing OK and slowly starving, but for those who earn more and simply want to continue supporting an affluent lifestyle I feel a lot less sympathy, especially as they’re exactly the people who can afford professional help doing it. Your drawing is lovely, by the way, much more cheerful than your subject matter!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! Of course there are penalties, and of course people are caught and fined and even jailed, but it’s not possible to control everything. Without wanting to point the finger, I’ve lived in other countries, and people wanted to get paid in cash there as well… I think incentive works better than repression – you have to give in order to receive, and plan things better in the first place. People have to believe things are fair, and not leaning towards one segment of the population.

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  4. It is so interesting to read about what is going on. Here’s hoping plenty of tourists contribute where the dishonest are failing to do so.

    Love the art! It made me wish I could do the same.

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  5. As if Greece did not have it tough enough! And, as oft, those least able to pay in all ‘righteousness’, are asked for the most! Kate C, who like me comes from Australia, asks a very valid Q . . . here the Taxation Office is v likely to ask serious Qs and demand serious fines. Unfortunately the multi-nationals and others able to pay huge amounts for ‘crooked’ advice, seem to pay almost nought!! Yes, Down Under is also having to close many businesses for cheaper Asian options offshore . . . but not as badly as your homeland, especially in the aftermath of BREXIT . . .

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  6. Thank you for the information. It seems that the situation in Greece is most depressing.
    No good way out has yet to appear. We pray it gets better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey tax levels for freelancers/professionals are exactly the same here in Italy! way too high compared to people with stable employee contracts, if you factor in risk, uncertainty, months without work, unpaid illness/days off (holidays? haha), eons before/if you get paid etc. It’s because IVA (=VAT) can’t organize – whereas people with stable jobs keep demonstrating for more guarantees. If you freelance with large companies, you can’t go “black economy”. When I was in Business School, my most brilliant 🙂 paper was on the benefits of a low 20% flat tax rate for all, which got special A+ mention from a visiting UN professor. Gets almost everyone paying up without too much pain and country revenue shoots up. Politicians don’t seem to know their basics, and think hiking up taxes is the solution….It’s tough here in Italy for a lot of people, though not on the level of Greece. I do like your drawing!

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    1. My point exactly. Take a comfortable amount from everyone, instead of forcing them to go black, and getting less in the end. Anyway, hello, it’s been proven that lowering taxes gets more people paying, and boosts growth…

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      1. Totally insane they keep upping them, but it’s also to cover all the “acquired rights” of the union-backed stable employed. Here too, the numbers of small businesses closing down is enormous, yet it’s entrepreneurship and spirit of initiative that should be encouraged and boosted to create more jobs…

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    2. Accidentally ‘wandered’ back here at the end of a working day. Now I live in Australia where taxes are oft an arguable problem, but my birth country is that of Estonia – charges a flat 20 % tax and methinks about 21% coy tax: no one bothers to cheat, most do their taxes in 5/60 per annum on line and for many years it HAS worked. Not close enough to say ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ but the country supposedly is right at the very top of the OECD ones , , , , I do know it has the third-most lowest debt ratio in the world with a very high standard of living these days . . . it makes one think . . .

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      1. Glad to hear that, it sounds like basic common sense. And I don’t buy into higher taxes for the rich, precisely because that’s precisely what makes them run to tax havens. 20% was my hypothesis in my paper back in 1987 🙂

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  8. I know Greece has been going through a hard time recently. I saw a news report not so long ago about how local people were doing a lot to help refugees camped out in a park in Athens, even though they had almost no money themselves. It was hard not to be touched by their generosity.

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  9. Is this evading taxes a new fact? No insult implied in my question. I have often read and heard that Southern European countries – including Southern France opposed to the virtuous North – try to fraud the State as a kind of national sport. But I cannot believe it. The whole economic and financial situation is too hard upon the already fragile entreprises and individuals. How long can they endure?
    I marvel at the Greek generosity towards refugees and what it entails. And I think there comes a time when the State cannot do anything for the citizens and a parallel economy has to be created to give some breathe to people.
    What a mess we/they have made.of our continent!
    Water colourist, Marina? You are gifted! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Camille. I think people are inclined to evade taxes everywhere, the difference is in the degree. This has to do with national identity (two Brits will neatly form a line, ten Greeks will scramble to the counter all together), the institutions (if the rules are perceived to be fair and are upheld, people are more likely to obey) and the perceived returned on taxes (are you getting roads, hospitals etc? Or is the money going to line someone’s pockets – level of corruption in the government). But on top of everything the problem is that now people just don’t have the money…

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