Friday was the last chance for Greeks in tax arrears to pay up and escape the steep penalties which in some cases dwarf the initial sum by thousands of euros.
Although it is mostly small debtors taking advantage of the once-only offer, the Greek government still expects to raise some 150 million euros.
For example, if you paid 50% of your tax bill, 50% of the fines would be scrapped.
“They are thinking of collecting money, money from everywhere. If someone has money they will pay, otherwise you choose your kids. Me, I will give some, whatever I can, but my kids are more important above all, like in every Greek family… We used to earn a living then the first cuts came, to me and my wife, so we cannot cope and we’re sliding down,” said one taxpayer.
In total Greeks owe the Greek state nearly 80 billion euros, and it is desperate for cash right now.
“Time is up: not just for those who wanted to make use of the favorable scheme but for the government too. Cornered by empty coffers, it looks forward to these earnings to cover payment obligations at home and abroad in the coming weeks,” says euronews’ Symela Touchtidou.
It also seems many with very old debt, relatively small sums but with mountains of penalties for non-payment, are taking full advantage of the scheme.
“There are some case of repayment of debt from as far back as the 1970s. The final valuation will be done next week, Tuesday or Wednesday, when we will have the final data from the banks,” says
the Head of the Department of Electronic Governance, Sofia Sexperidou.
Tax evasion is seen abroad as something of a national pastime for Greeks, and while that is a stereotype insist some, avoidance is becoming more common.
“Greeks never had a non-payment culture They were not people that did not meet their obligations This is a fact. But the hardships of the past years have made people think over and over again if they must pay,” says tax consultant Antonis Mouzakis.
With liquidity becoming a problem the government is casting around for money from somewhere, anywhere, before time is, indeed, up.
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