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House focuses on unpaid tax clampdown

By Angelos Anastasiou

JUST 127 individuals and companies are responsible for over 30 per cent of unpaid taxes amounting to more than €165 million, lawmakers were told on Monday.

In a session of the House finance committee that discussed ways of boosting the efficiency of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Value-Added Tax (VAT) department, deputies voted to forward two amendments to current taxation legislation to Thursday’s plenum. The bills would expand the powers of tax-collection services to include seizing funds from bank accounts, seizing personal property and placing restrictions – or ‘memos’ – on the sale of immovable property.

DIKO deputy Angelos Votsis told the press after the session that seizing funds and personal property would only be allowed for amounts exceeding €200 and only with the attorney general’s approval, whereas amounts exceeding €1,000 would trigger the placing of a memo.

IRS senior officer Liana Charalambous told deputies that total uncollected taxes to year-end 2013 added up to €525 million.

According to Charalambous, 46,449 taxpayers – or 64.8 per cent of those who owe tax – owe amounts up to €1,000, for a total of €12.49 million. Her breakdown included the fact that 127 individuals or entities owe over €500,000 each, for a total of €165.01 million.

Charalambous said that 62 per cent of the total amount due relates to years 2013 and 2014, and for the rest court rulings have been issued for a memo to be placed on immovable property.

The data provided by Charalambous prompted the committee to consider whether tweaking the provisions of the bills would target bigger non-payers better.
“We should focus on the bigger dues, for better results,” Votsis said.

According to Votsis, once the bigger unpaid amounts have been settled, the law may then focus on smaller dues.

“We will deliberate until Thursday, and we might even reach a common amendment by then,” he said.



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