30,000 Greek Households Lose Electricity Each Month
Since the Greek government enacted the remarkable law that property taxes will be enforced via the electricity providers in the beleaguered country, an incredible 30,000 households per month have seen their power supply cut off. Ekathimerini reports that some 700,000 customers have now had their debts restructured (with payment plans) as part of the billing process; but what is perhaps incredible is that while the State has specifically banned 'disconnection' for not paying the property charges, the utility's computer system is unable to distinguish if payment is for electricity or property tax. There are apparently workarounds involving deposits for tax debts but the situation is set to deteriorate further this year due to the increase in electricity rates and expected further reductions in household incomes.
About 1,000 electricity connections are cut every day in Greece as Public Power Corporation customers are increasingly unable to pay their power bills on time, while accumulated debts to the country’s electricity giant stood at more than 1.3 billion euros at the end of 2012. This is not only due to the economic crisis that has eaten into household incomes, but also to the special property tax paid via power bills.
PPC data show that some 700,000 customers had had their debts rearranged with new payment plans by the end of last year, up from 400,000 at the end of 2011. The situation is set to deteriorate this year due to the increase in PPC rates and expected further reductions in household incomes.
There is, however, a particular problem with the special property tax. While the Council of State has banned the disconnection of houses for not paying the property charge through the PPC bill, if customers do pay for their electricity, PPC’s software cannot distinguish between payment for the property tax and that for electricity. As a result, the corporation cannot tell whether consumers have paid toward their power bill or just a part of their property tax unless they have paid the full amount.
PPC says that this problem can be overcome by the taxpayers visiting the tax offices, where they can apply to have their property levy paid separately to the tax authority, which involves the payment of a 50-euro deposit. Afterward, any payment delay will only concern the customer and the tax office, and not PPC.
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