Don’t look under stones

Do you remember as a child turning over stones in rock pools to see what you could find in that strange world underneath. Shrimps, small fish or starfish if you were lucky and if not so lucky some jelly like mass that looked rather strange, could possibly sting  and was definitely a little off putting/scary.

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under stones

Following a conversation with a Portuguese friend who was leaving Portugal to go and work in the UK. He would be joining some 20 of his family and friends working in a far less skilled job than he was used to here but making the all-important money to pay the mortgage back in Portugal.

The fear of “losing everything” is all too present and permanent.

This got me to thinking about just how many properties were being seized and sold by the Portuguese tax man.

A quick internet search came up with the numbers and a lot more info. “”

100,000 Properties may have been sold in the last two years by the taxman. Then there are the cars and commercial vehicles.

To put it another way – Each day this year there has been an auction on average of 197 land, houses, and business premises due to taxes owed.

Add to this the property foreclosures by banks which run into hundreds of thousands of properties taken from their previous owners.

No wonder the young and mobile are leaving Portugal in droves.
It is clear that a huge number of ordinary Portuguese are hurting. So why is there no rioting in the streets?

Maybe it is because tax avoidance is a national pastime here or it could be that people have abandoned properties  in order to live abroad. Whatever the reason its very sad.

While searching the internet for information on IRS seizures I found lots of posts about –
Pedro Passos Coelho who’s administration launched a crackdown on tax evasion as part of an austerity program when it took power in 2011 has also come under the spotlight when it was reported.

“Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has come under increasing pressure for failing to pay his own taxes on time.” This increasing pressure amounted to being nothing more than  “savaged by a dead sheep” (Do you remember Healey’s famous remark that being attacked by Geoffrey Howe was like being savaged by a dead sheep)
Read more:
“The premier (Pedro Passos Coelho) said in a statement that some years he filed his tax return late, “sometimes because I forgot, sometimes because I had no money.” The premier says he later paid outstanding sums and financial penalties.”

“The centre-right coalition government leader also faces growing pressure to fully explain why he failed to declare earnings between 2003 and 2007, when he was a consultant for various companies.”

“Portugal’s main opposition party took aim at center-right premier over a media report that he failed to pay his social security contributions for five years.”

A Portuguese newspaper revealed last weekend that he failed to pay almost €4,000 in social security from 1999-2004.

I wonder what the tipping point in terms of IRS debt is for the tax man is to seize a property from an ordinary man on hard times  in Portugal?

Please dont misunderstand my comments here. I have no political allegiance and fortunately I have never met a Portuguese politician.

The whole reason for this blog post is to vent my incredulous disbelief of a situation where people in power can float above us mere mortals without consequence for their own actions.

I suppose that I should do a little dirt digging on Thatcher and Blair to even up the playing field a little. Trouble is I am retired and it could be a full time task.

Politics around the world is very reminiscent of those rock pools. Although here there is no real appetite to lift any stones and peer beneath. Perhaps it is because we are very likely to find something that could be a little off putting/scary or perhaps we know that nothing will be done about what we find.