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 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.
Last month, right-wing politician Panos Kammenos said in a television interview that Jews don’t pay taxes.
Kalantzis said he felt compelled to speak out publicly as the accusations by Kammenos had become a part of “the public debate and, mainly, on the dark side of the Internet.”
Kalantzis said widespread reports that Jews paid fewer taxes were “conspiracy theories, lies and slander,” the Kathimerini newspaper reported.
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.
In response to Kammenos’ charge, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece had issued a statement saying it “categorically refutes” the comments.
A recent Anti-Defamation League poll found that anti-Semitic stereotypes are widespread in Greece and that the country had the highest percentage of anti-Semitic views in Europe.