OECD places Greece in unenviable first place among 34 members for tax increases between 2007-16

6 September 2018

The latest report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) more-or-less confirms what Greek taxpayers and business owners in the country continue to suffer in the second half of the year, namely, a “tax safari” unleashed in 2016 that has reached unprecedented proportions.

According to the OECD’s “Policy Reforms 2018” report, Greece is in unenviable first place among the organization’s 34 member-states in terms of tax rate increases.

The development comes amid a crescendo of criticism against the poll-trailing leftist-rightist coalition government in Athens that it is achieving creditor-mandated fiscal targets on the back of exorbitant direct and indirect taxes plaguing households with working people, businesses of all sizes and self-employed professionals, from craftsmen to physicians. Over-taxation has been cited by various quarters, ranging from the IMF to Greek labor unions, as the primary factor dampening a recovering Greek economy’s growth prospects.

By contrast, the OECD notes that several countries over the past few years have enacted tax system reform in order to reduce burdens for businesses and individuals alike, part of an effort to boost investment and consumption.

In surveying the 2007-2016 period, OECD said taxation in Greece as a percentage of GDP increased by 7.4 percentage points, greater than any other developed economy in the world. The biggest increase, as expected, came at the end of the surveyed period. The punishing economic crisis in Greece erupted in late 2009, although some economists point to its start even a year earlier.

Over the 2015-2016 period, which witnessed the first two years of the hard left SYRIZA party in power, the figure increased by three percentage points, again the steepest such hike among all 34 OECD members.

In far-off second place comes the Netherlands, with 1.5 percentage points. Conversely, in Ireland the same figure for the 2007-2016 period witnessed a reduction of nearly 7 percentage points.

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