ATHENS, Greece (JTA) – A Greek government official has been forced to clarify that Greek Jews do pay taxes and have the same obligations as every other fellow citizen. “Greek citizens of Jewish faith pay their tax normally like all Greeks and do not enjoy any exemption or extra burden because of their religion,” said Giorgos Kalantzis, the Education Ministry’s general secretary for religion. Kalantzis said widespread reports that Jews paid fewer taxes were “conspiracy theories, lies and slander,” the Kathimerini newspaper reported.
Last month, right-wing politician Panos Kammenos made the accusations in a television interview, saying that Jews don’t pay taxes. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece issued a statement in response, saying it “categorically refutes” Kammenos’ comments. Now, Kalantzis said he felt compelled to speak out publicly as these accusations had become a part of “the public debate and, mainly, on the dark side of the Internet.”
The issue of tax avoidance is a heated topic in Greece, where widespread tax evasion has been blamed as a leading cause of Greece’s economic troubles.
A recent Anti-Defamation League poll found that anti-Semitic stereotypes are widespread in Greece, which has the highest percentage of anti-Semitic views in Europe.