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Auditors protest against tax fines

04 February 2014 / 20:02:38  GRReporter
1834 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

As of 1 January 2014, hefty fines have been added to the tax avalanche that has overwhelmed the Greeks over the past few years. In an attempt to collect more money in the state funds, the experts at the Ministry of Finance have introduced high interest rates for every overdue obligation. It turns out that, through the same law, they have provided extremely high fines for all small- and medium-sized enterprises and, accordingly, for the auditors and tax consultants who handle their documentation.

The measure had provoked strong reactions among the auditors who held a protest rally in Syntagma Square, outside the Greek Parliament, on Tuesday. "If a firm deducts, by mistake, 4 euro from the monthly payment of the tax which it pays for an employee, it will be required to pay a fine amounting to 43,000 euro upon correcting this mistake. If it is a larger accounting firm the fine will amount to 108,000 euro," auditor Panagiotis Pantelis told GRReporter.

"The companies are unable to withstand these fines which will only increase the overdue obligations. Not to mention the fact that this will cause strife between the companies and their auditors," he added.

The protesting auditors were supported by the Association of SMEs, the chambers of commerce and the federation of tax employees. According to Pantelis, the government should withdraw the fines, which it will not be able to collect anyway.

The auditor stated that they would only worsen the business climate in Greece, which is already negative, and would act as a barrier to potential foreign investors. "We all know how inflated the tax rates are. Imagine the reaction of investors who want to start a business here when they find out that, over the next five years, they will pay tens or hundreds of thousands of euro even for an insignificant mistake."

"If the Ministry of Finance wants to impose fines, let it impose them on those who evade taxes instead of on the small and medium enterprises that have tens of employees. They are the companies that create jobs, which is why we fight for them. It is not possible for the Ministry to ignore this fact and, actually, to jeopardize their existence."

Pantelis said that high taxes impede investment in Greece. "I do not mean just the high tax rates but all additional regulations under which tax liabilities grow. The Ministry and the government should seriously undertake to reduce the taxes. Unfortunately, instead of doing so in order for Greece to have investments and economic growth, they are taking measures in the opposite direction."

He concluded that if the Greek government actually aims at reducing unemployment and creating economic growth it must withdraw the fines.

Tags: SocietyProtestAuditorsTax finesSmall- and medium-sized companies
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