By Chrysostomos Tsoufis

Interest on a business loan is required to be paid by the taxpayer who wants to settle his debts to the tax office.

More specifically, taxpayers who entered in taxis to set up ENFIA, they found with “soul pain” that the interest rate for 12 installments is at 6.68% while for 24 or 48 installments at 8.18%! Suffice it to note that the average interest rate for a business loan of up to 250,000 euros has not exceeded 7.42% in the last 3 years.

In November 2022 the corresponding interest rates for debt settlement it was 4.37% for the 12 doses and 5.87% for the 24 or 48 doses. This means that on a debt of 2,000 euros that must be settled in 24 installments, the interest charge is 46 euros. It may seem small at first sight, but if the taxpayer had the necessary money, he would pay the tax on time and not want to settle.

Why is all this happening?

The interest rate charged by each arrangement is variable and is derived in accordance with the existing framework from the last published average annual interest rate of loans in euros without a fixed duration of mutual accounts granted by all Credit Institutions in Greece to non-financial companies, as published by the Bank Greece’s. To this is added 0.25 units if it is a 12 dose setting and 1.5 units if it is a 24 or 48 dose setting.

And of course like all interest rates it is affected by the ECB’s decisions on its key interest rates. Interest rates that were negative until June 2022 and now are at 4% and 4.5% for the main refinancing operations.

All this time of the successive increases made by the ECB, the Ministry of Finance did not take any measure to protect the taxpayers as a result of which the interest rates soared, causing the irritation, to say the least, of the taxpayers.

An attitude that raises questions because it was the actions of the Ministry of Finance that “pushed” the banks to freeze the interest rates of informed mortgage loans.

It is the finance ministers – first Christos Staikouras and now Kostis Hatzidakis – who are pressuring the banks to generally reduce lending rates.

Question marks are multiplying since the Ministry of Labor with 2 consecutive decisions from September 2022 has “solved” the issue, freezing interest rates at 5.5% until 2025 for EFKA debt arrangements. One of them has even been signed by the current Minister of Finance Kostis Hatzidakis!

Somehow, a situation of 2 meters and 2 stations appears, with the wronged of course being those who owe AADE.

But beyond the reasons of “appearance” and common rules everywhere, there is another reason that “cries out” for an initiative by the Ministry of Finance. The reason has to do with the new, presumptive way of taxing freelancers and the self-employed which, according to the Ministry of Finance’s announcements, will “cause” a tax increase 1,444 euros on average in 473,000 taxpayers many of whom may want to settle their debts.

However, to be “fair”, the Ministry of Finance, from November 2022, when the problem had started to take on dimensions, hastened to “freeze” the interest rate on unregulated debts at 8.75%, first by decision of Christos Staikouras and then by Kostis Hatzidakis.

Half the work is done, now the other half needs to be done