No Financial Times:
To address this problem, our simple idea was to allow the multilateral cancellation of arrears between the state and the private sector using the tax office’s existing payments platform. Taxpayers, whether individuals or organisations, would be able to create reserve accounts that would be credited with arrears owed to them by the state. They would then be able to transfer credits from their reserve account either to the state (in lieu of tax payments) or to any other reserve account.
Suppose, for example, Company A is owed €1m by the state and owes €30,000 to an employee plus another €500,000 to Company B, which provided it with goods and services. The employee and Company B also owe, respectively, €10,000 and €200,000 in taxes to the state. In this case the proposed system would allow for the immediate cancellation of at least €210,000 in arrears. Suddenly, an economy like Greece's would acquire important degrees of freedom within the existing European Monetary Union.
In a second phase of development, which we did not have the time to consider properly, the system would be made accessible through
smartphone apps and identity cards, guaranteeing that it would be widely adopted.
The envisaged payments system could be developed to create a substitute for fully functioning public debt markets, especially during a credit crunch such as the one that has afflicted Greece since 2010. Organisations or individuals could buy credits from the tax office online using their normal bank accounts, and add them to their reserve account. These credits could be used after, say, a year to pay future taxes at a discount (for example, 10 per cent).
As long as the total level of tax credits was capped, and fully transparent, the result would be a fiscally responsible increase in government liquidity and a quicker path back to the money markets.