IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME
June 20, 2011 10 Comments
I am going to change my name to Leonidas Haymanopolis and move to Greece.
I would like to get away from the austerity measures that have been imposed in every other European Union country and which the Greeks have decided doesn’t apply to them.
I would like to borrow money from those around me to support my living standards and never have to pay it back.
I wish to pay minimal taxes to my government for running the country and paying my salary and retirement benefits. I will do this by making sure that most of my transactions are in cash, even if I am in a professional role, and by only declaring about a quarter of my real income as a way of minimising my tax bill.
I want to be able to take 41 days paid leave per year (annual leave plus public holidays).
And… I want to be paid for 13 months of work even though there are only 12 months in my year.
After all, apart for kites, fireworks, eyeglasses and yo-yo’s Greece gave the world democracy and Greeks have overwhelmingly democratically voted to tell the rest of the world to bugger off.
“Thanks for the loans, but we have spent them all on ouzo, luxury boats and sandals, so we will not be paying you back”. Ah … democracy at work.
I guess that we should have realised that the expression “Beware Greeks bearing gifts” actually cut both ways and that we also had to “Beware Greeks asking for hand-outs”.
A number of studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, estimate that tax evasion is costing the Greek Government about € 30 billion per year.
In the wealthy northern suburbs of Athens only 324 residents ticked the box on their tax return admitting that they have a swimming pool. Tax officials using satellite photographs of the same area came up with 16,974.
The worst offenders are the self-employed, who form a major proportion of working people in a country of small businesses, and it’s not just the taxi-drivers, plumbers, electricians and restaurant owners. Tax authorities recently surveyed the returns of 150 doctors with practices in Kolonaki, a trendy neighbourhood in Athens that hosts the major global designer brands. More than 50% claimed incomes of less than € 40,000 and 25% claimed incomes of less than € 13,300 which exempted them from paying any income tax at all. These levels of income would not even cover them for paying rent on their premises in this area let alone being able to afford the luxury homes, cars, boats and jewellery that these people possess.
In a country of 11 million only a few thousand reported earnings in excess of € 132,000 per annum and an inordinately large number of people claim that they earn less that € 12,000 per year, which would not even cover them for heating their home or running their car.
If the Greeks just paid their taxes the way most of the western world has to, any part of € 30 billion extra annually would go a long way to alleviating the financial crisis that exists and that threatens to envelope the rest of Europe.
Instead, the Greeks have taken to the streets with an attitude that expects the rest of the world to pay for their lifestyles, and for the corruption and practice of “fakelaki” (Greek for little envelope) used for bribing everyone from Government officials to medical practitioners, which is so widespread that the rates for each one are common knowledge.
George Papandreou is struggling to form a unity Government, the EU Finance Ministers can’t agree on what to do next and under what conditions, Greece’s debt has been downgraded to junk status and it looks at as though Greece is heading towards default on its debt, which could herald another global financial meltdown.
As Leonidas Haymanopolis in Athens I will be significantly better off than if I stay in France and continue to pay all the French taxes, and I will be able to take to the streets and do battle with the authorities to protect my right to ask everyone else to fund my idleness.
Αντίο και Θεός σας ευλογήστε. (good bye and god bless you)