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COVID-19 and Accountants – Tax Implications

COVID-19 and Accountants – Tax Implications

Numerous businesses have closed and continue to do so, either due to government orders or voluntarily, as they are unable to operate without customers coming in to shop. Consequently, all tasks related to various services (such as Tax Authorities, Social Security, Manpower Employment Organization, Health and Accident Insurance Fund, banks, etc.) are being directed to the accountants’ offices without any questions asked. It is understandable that people seek assistance from accountants, as they are uncertain about where else to turn. However, nobody seems to consider that accountants are also human beings; they run businesses and employ personnel who have been sent home to protect their health based on rapidly changing daily data.

In light of this, a letter has been sent to the Ministers with the aim of ensuring a more effective functioning of Accountants – Tax Advisors, as the tax professionals continue to predominantly serve their clients physically in their offices for tax, labor, insurance, and other matters, despite using new technologies in their practices.

Some of the proposed measures include:

  • Through a ministerial decision or circular, accounting offices should be instructed to focus primarily on implementing extraordinary measures announced by the Government to support businesses and their employees. This instruction should be accompanied by the simultaneous suspension of all other declarative obligations of businesses submitted through accounting offices.
  • Allow accountants and tax advisors to access all electronic government services on behalf of their clients using the authorization provided through TAXISnet (e.g., Tax Authorities, Social Security, Manpower Employment Organization, etc.).
  • Suspend the submission of all tax and insurance obligations (e.g., VAT, withholding taxes, personal income tax, social security contributions, etc.). This suspension should initially last until the end of April 2020 and should be reevaluated as, until then, no physical invoices should be received or recorded. Payments resulting from these obligations should be universally suspended for at least 4 months or until businesses can resume normal operations and generate income. Additionally, the deadline for submitting tax returns for both individuals and legal entities should reasonably be extended.
  • Given the general ban on face-to-face transactions, auditors should temporarily suspend the request for supporting documents or there should be a directive to extend the time for conducting audits due to travel restrictions.
  • Banks should not require updated documents for members of the Boards of Directors of businesses or any other legitimizing documents, and a deadline extension until December 31, 2020, should be provided for submission. Under no circumstances should the non-submission of these documents lead to freezing of businesses’ bank accounts.
  • Facilitate debt settlements and payment extensions for businesses facing financial difficulties after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent them from ceasing their operations and suffering the consequences.
  • Address the difficulties in paying Easter bonuses.
  • Show leniency in freezing the arrangements of 120 installments and other similar arrangements for both insurance and tax overdue debts.
  • Provide banking facilities, such as reduced interest rates or fees, for various banking transactions.
  • Postpone the implementation of the trial period for electronic books (MyData) until January 1, 2022.

And let’s not forget: accountants are also human beings, just like everyone else who is affected during these times. It’s best to use our phone calls for serious matters rather than trivial ones, as we are all coping with the situation at home.

Georgios Thom. Papadimitriou
Accountant – Tax Advisor
Scientific Collaborator at TaxHeaven
President of the Association of Freelance Accountants and Tax Advisors in N. Karditsa
Secretary General of the Agricultural Economic Tax Institute
Responsible for Commerce and Small Business Support Services at the Karditsa Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Karditsa, April 9, 2020

Please note that this text is a translation of the previous Greek text and has been provided for informational purposes only. The content may be fictional, and the information provided is not verified or based on real events.