Ministry tries to clear up property tax flap

The Finance Ministry on Tuesday sought to end the confusion over the implications of nonpayment of a controversial property tax, stressing that only those with legitimate grounds for exemption were excusable.

In a written statement, the ministry said those eligible for exemption -- the disabled and certain categories of the unemployed -- must apply for approval. While approval is pending, it is “understandable” that homeowners pay only the electricity charge on their electricity bill, to which the property levy is attached, the ministry said. It added that authorities have not cut the power to anyone “genuinely unable to pay.”

The statement followed a court ruling which found the tax legal but not the practice of cutting off power to those who do not pay.

Conservative New Democracy accused the state of acting “like a tyrant” on the issue of the tax and called for “a clear-cut solution,” noting that homeowners were being forced to wait in lines at tax offices, without receiving a clear answer about what they must do.

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