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New system will allow payment of tax arrears online

The system giving people the ability to pay their overdue taxes online should be up and ready in two weeks’ time, Tax Commissioner Yiannis Tsangaris told MPs on Monday.

Precise details on how taxpayers can access and use the system will be unveiled at the time of launch.

Individuals will need to obtain their log-in data from a Citizens’ Service Centre by showing a valid ID, while corporations will get the access information from the central post office.

An agreement between the Tax Department and the banks allowing for online payment of taxes is expected to be signed over the coming days, Tsangaris said.

Efforts were being made to incorporate payment of VAT as well into the agreement.

In order to pay tax arrears in this way, taxpayers will have to register with the ‘Ariadne’ Government Gateway Portal (https://eservices.cyprus.gov.cy/). Once logged into the system, a taxpayer will be able to select the mode of payment of tax arrears in instalments. Overdue debts under €100,000 can be paid in 54 monthly instalments whereas those exceeding €100,000 can be paid in 60 instalments. For persons wishing to settle all their tax arrears at once, the Tax Department is offering an amnesty (of up to 95 per cent) on the penalties, such as interest.

For example, if the actual arrears come to €100,000 and the penalties are €30,000, the taxpayer will pay the €100,000 plus 5 per cent of the €30,000. The Tax Department decided to charge the 5 per cent as an administrative fee.

Overall, overdue taxes amount to over €1 billion, Tsangaris said. Currently, there are approximately 1,300 cases before the courts regarding non-payment of taxes.

According to Tsangaris, many of these individuals or corporations have asked for a postponement of the trial on the grounds that they want to make use of the instalments system once it is available.

Although the Tax Department is aware that at least some of these cases are insincere, instructions have nonetheless been given to freeze the prosecutions process and give people the chance to use the online payments system.

Back in January, parliament passed legislation affording people the opportunity to repay overdue taxes in monthly instalments. The law concerns debts to VAT, immovable property, income tax, temporary defence contribution, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, stamp duty, and the temporary contribution in the public and private sectors. The law also affords the Tax Commissioner the authority to decide on discounts, interest, and charges on a case-by-case basis.

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