Statistics for 2014 show the stories of heartbreak and desperation that didn’t make it into the newspapers. The stories of families who lost their homes and property through mounting tax debt. In all, 3,603 homes were auctioned off by the State last year to recoup citizens’ debts.
As national tabloid Correio da Manhã explains, this amounts to an average of 10 homes per day.
And the way debts are recouped – and homes and property lost – have come in for huge criticism.
For instance, a widow with three children to support saw her home put up for auction for a debt of just €1,900 for road traffic licence infractions.
The house failed to find any buyers at the first attempt, and “a solidarity campaign” raised by officials shocked by the situation finally raised the cash the woman needed to pay her debt.
She was thus spared the desperation of being thrown into the streets.
But the agony continues for many, with another 1,390 homes due to go under the hammer this year already.
CM reports that elsewhere, 833 motorists have lost their cars due to debts, while over 5,500 liens on property have been ordered by the courts.
The State’s AT website (Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira) has a series of electronic auctions running at the moment, writes CM – ranging from furniture seized by the taxman to four-bedroom apartments in Lisbon. In the latter case, the starting price has been fixed at €32,000.
On the same site, a BMW car is up for grabs, with a minimum sale price of €1,959.
Writing on the same subject during 2014, Negócios Online said that house and car seizures are the tax authorities’ “last resort” but they have been increasing “significantly in recent times”.
As the president of estate agents association APEMIP told DN, it has got to a point where the government is selling more houses than anyone else!