The Greek Government has decided to impose VAT of 23% on private education services, arguing that the cost will be borne by ‘privileged families’. However, many private schools and tuition centres provide remedial teaching or specialist and technical qualifications to individuals who can by no stretch of the imagination be considered privileged and do not have access to state education facilities.
Admittedly, taxation is the responsibility of the national authorities and the Commission is not empowered to recommend or impose fiscal measures.
However, the Greek Government has intimated that tax on education could be avoided if an equivalent alternative could be found.
An obvious alternative would be to tax proceeds from VLT computer gaming devices, a measure that has been agreed but not put into practice because of disagreements between OPAP Ltd and the Games Supervisory and Control Committee (EEEP). This would generate an estimated EUR 300 million for the State, thereby obviating the need for an education tax.
In view of this:
Was the decision to tax education rather than VLTs, which would be a directly equivalent alternative, the responsibility of the Commission or the Greek Government?
What view will the Commission take of any further recessionary tax measures imposed by the Greek Government at time when obvious alternative sources of revenue are available?
Answer given by Mr Moscovici on behalf of the Commission
The Commission did not ask Greece to change its legislation on VAT applicable to private education. The commitments of Greece included in the memorandum of understanding agreed with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in August 2015 do not contain specific provisions for VAT on private schools. Taxation is the responsibility of the national authorities.
The exemption regarding the VAT on private education was kept in place. The Omnibus Act of 19 November 2015 introduced a lottery tax, an excise on wine and some changes in road tax estimated to raise just under EUR 300 million.