Social Security seizes over €600 million from Portuguese taxpayers

The figure translates into 374,150 ‘seizures’ over 2014, including liens on property, salaries and the freezing of bank accounts.

In all, it was a record year for tax collectors who are reported to have raised over €5 billion in debt seizures, confiscating a record number of debtors’ homes and property. This amounts to monthly attacks on workers and businesses of over €433 million, a figure that leapt 11% from 2013.

According to stories in the Portuguese media, bailiffs have been in overdrive since the PSD/CDS-PP coalition took charge of the country under the eyes of the troika.

In 2011, when the government first came to power, coercive debt collection (when debts are not paid voluntarily) was running at a rate of €540 million per year. Four years on, it has increased by €68.8 million.

Releasing the figures, the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Security and Employment has also revealed that between January and September last year, it received 700 requests for debts to be paid through instalments.

As to companies owing money, the Ministry of Finance has stressed it plans to “reinforce” seizures by “confiscating merchandise in circulation”.

Meantime, the ministry’s internet portal shows it has a total of 1,635 auctions in the pipeline to offload goods seized. Of those, 73% involve homes – sometimes ‘seized’ for apparently nonsensical debts, as the case of the single-mother who owed only €1900 in road tax payments.

Fortunately, in this case a public whip-around, organised by officials, saved the woman’s home.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]