Though Mr Miltiades Evert (ND), who keeps 15 animals at his home in Pikermi, protested most stridently for more than 40 minutes at what he called "this iniquity and shame," moving even die-hard Pasok deputies with his eloquence, he was asked to resume his seat or leave; while the expelled members of ND abstained from voting. "To even vote against it is to acknowledge its absurdity," stated Mr Mitsotakis. Despite a last minute coalition between KKE and Nea Democratia, and all the votes they could muster, the Bill passed its second reading with a majority of 21 and is expected to result in a flurry of new documentation from the regional tax offices next month.
At one point the vote hung on whether the pet was kept inside the house or outside in a kennel or covered stall, but this was resolved when Mr Yiannos Papantoniou (the Minister for Economy) pointed out that any kennel and its dimensions should have been declared on the E.9 (the property tax form that required the listing of any outhouses, garages or covered spaces), last year, and was already taxed under existing legislation. Under such circumstances he said "a notional figure (a tekmirio) would be charged for the animal dependent on size and value. An alsation dog," he continued, "that ate about 2,000 drs of meat daily would probably require a tekmirio of 730,000 drs." He further emphasised that veterinary bills would be tax deductible on the standard declaration form from next year, up to a certain level, which would somewhat mitigate against the assessment.
In a sample document shown to Athens News, the owner of the pet had to list the species, its size, the amount of room it (or its cage) took up in a dwelling, and its purpose for existence: recreational, functional or food supply (when a new VAT of 4% on weight is applied). Furthermore, the origin and breed were requested: foreign and exotic animals being taxed at a rate 50% higher than that of domestic.
These figures will be studied by the Ministry who will decide on the amount of tax payable based on the cost of the animal's upkeep, the amount of space it occupies in a taxable dwelling and its purpose. "To an average family with a cat, living in a 125 sq.m. flat," said the spokesman, Mr Reppas, "this should not represent an additional burden of more than 2% on the annual taxable income, unless it were a Persian or a Siamese."
A spokesman for one of the farmer's unions objected strongly to the 4% VAT on the food supply category and stated that he would recommend his members to list all farm animals as recreational to qualify for lower taxation or else resort to militant action. "Deflating tractor tyres is easy compared with manhandling an angry bull, " he added.