A week ago, I mentioned very briefly that small businesses in Greece are to be taxed based on estimated income. At the time, I thought it no more than another mad tax wonk trying to grab some tax back from evasive SMEs, he or she not having noticed that most of them have closed down. I thought it was probably there to tick a box for Troikanauts in turn desperate for something to show the lunatics in Brussels-am-Berlin. I thought, “there’s another flock of government employees about to chase ether and waste yet more Hellenic money”.
Well, I was wrong. What’s been emerging gradually over the last few days is that ‘estimation’ is the wrong word here: if the electricity company estimates your bill and by next April you’ve overpaid hugely, you can get a refund. The new idea from the department of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras isn’t going to work like that. It’s not an estimation, its an assertive assumption that transubstantiates – having been made flesh in the new tax law – as fact, and thus a sum you must pay. As you almost certainly don’t have the cash to pay it, well….er, you can see where this is going can’t you? I mean, you’re not on the streets are you?
Oh, and I was wrong about another little dimension of this law: it isn’t just for dead SMEs, it’s for live people too. To be precise, everyone.
The Greek Finance Ministry has calculated that every person living in Greece needs 250 euro per month to stay alive. The fact that they think this in the first place can be explained by the hermetically sealed nature of the bubble within which they exist; but for once, we should be grateful for that. As from now, millions of Greek taxpayers will be called upon to cough up even if they have no income, but they are alive and have a home to live in.
It’s the legalisation of asset seizure, pure and simple. It is the assumption that you are a tax evader, and therefore a suitable case for sequestration. It is, in a nutshell, the new test-method for stealing. We’ve had the depositor haircut. We’ve had the secret raids on pension and assurance funds direct from the suppliers. Now we have the creation of fantasy criminals who must of course be punished, and their assets taken in lieu.
On one level, we can marvel once again at the brass neck involved in leaving the Greek élite cheats immune from prosecution, while the now universally poor rest of the population continues to be financially buggered. If ever you wanted a fertiliser to render the soiled ideas of Socialism attractive once more, then this new law is it. And another word for fertiliser is, of course, sh*t.
I may be wrong in this, but I think this is probably the first time any First World tax law has dropped the thing about, you know, assuming innocence until guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. But I am certain about one thing: the Establishment’s slip is showing bigtime here.
What the Greek, Troika and EU authorities are doing with this law is declaring all citizens to be criminals – Enemies of the State who must pay in full for the joy of being tolerated by that State. This being the State that cheated Brussels, bad-debted the bondholders, embezzled huge amounts of its revenue, and then declared itself (thanks to the Parliamentary legal work of Evangelos Venizelos personally) immune from any and all forms of prosecution.
You may still think that global looting is a fantasy. I suggest you change your mind soon. The looting isn’t going to work, but it is going to be tried….and as Cyprus showed, two weeks after the biggest theft of citizen money since the Roman salt tax, nobody outside the Aegean or in the media GsAF. You too could wind up a hard-working Dubliner or Dane or former Squaddie who went back to the Cyprus of their youth for a quiet retirement, and discovered that the hidden price of doing so was obligatory poverty.
Face it: bankrupt governments and insolvent banks have run out of options. For the time being, we the citizenry are it: a desperate, last-chance for the losses to be recouped…..at someone else’s expense, naturally.
We are the straw to be grasped by the drowning men. And it is the last straw.