BUSINESS

Big Brother will be watching taxpayers

As of next year the Finance Ministry will have full access to property and transaction details and changes By Prokopis Hatzinikolaou

The government is stepping up its battle against tax evasion with new monitoring tools which should leave little leeway for people who hide their incomes or fail to pay their dues.

The action plan of the General Secretariat for Public Revenues provides for the activation of the Property Registry as of 2015, along with the abolition of calculating incomes based on asset ownership. This year will see the start of new checking techniques, with ministry inspectors having online access to bank accounts, an expansion of confiscations for state debtors and the interconnection of the monitoring authorities with the Land Registry, the Social Security Foundation (IKA), the Primary National Health Network (PEDY) and the courts, among others.

The Property Registry in particular will improve Finance Ministry authorities’ accessibility to taxpayer data such as the ownership of real estate, vehicles, boats, aircraft, shares, bonds, corporate stakes, deposits, collections etc, with automatic updates on any change in capital tax data. The registry will allow for the electronic monitoring of all properties for 8.5 million taxpayers and the tracking of all financial transactions.

Tax authorities will keep an electronic file on every taxpayer which will include full data on all incomes, properties, loans, deposits, credit cards, shares, bonds, hospital expenditure, tuition fees and even spending on utilities. State agencies will be interconnected with ministry’s Taxis system, allowing for cross-checking and confirmation of the living standards of each taxpayer.

The ministry’s Secretariat for Public Revenues will gain access to monitored taxpayers’ bank balances within 2014 and later on inspectors will be able to monitor previous years’ balances. The bank account registry will allow authorities to gain a full picture concerning the banking profile of every citizen and enterprise under inspection, and is expected to apply in full from end-2014.

The secretariat will also activate indirect inspection checks by using other information on the assets of taxpayers to establish their living standards, including money forwarded abroad, foreign boat registers etc.

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