BUSINESS

Tax agency has big plans but a shortage of inspectors

PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

TAGS: Taxation, Finance

The state is turning its inspection focus on the 2012-16 period, with the Independent Authority for Public Revenue – the former General Secretariat for Public Revenue at the Finance Ministry – planning 23,300 checks on taxpayers and corporations in 2017, even though it does not have enough employees to conduct them.

A number of recent court decisions have effectively annulled inspection orders and their results as they concerned years affected by the statute of limitations, and this has led the tax administration to focus 60 percent of inspections on the last five years, just as in 2016.

The decision signed by the head of the authority, Giorgos Pitsilis, dictates that out of the 23,300 inspections there will be 3,500 full ones, which means that the taxpayers and enterprises concerned will have their entire set of assets checked, while the remaining 19,800 will only be partial.

Those inspections will be undertaken by the Monitoring Center for Taxpayers of Major Wealth and its counterpart for large enterprises, as well as the tax authorities across the country. However, both the monitoring centers and tax offices are suffering from understaffing problems.

A senior Finance Ministry official says that the priority for now is bringing the monitoring mechanism up to speed, as there are some officials, even in key posts, who are unfamiliar with conducting inspections at enterprises. Instead they are familiar with temporary checks (i.e. issuing fines to restaurants, nightclubs etc).

The authority’s data for the first 11 months of last year showed that the country’s tax inspectors conducted 3,201 complete checks and 17,742 partial ones. October budget figures revealed that legislation regarding fines and the presence of inspectors at tourist destinations have contributed to an increase in revenues from value-added tax: In October, VAT takings expanded by 130.69 million euros, or 8.98 percent, from the same month in 2015. The authority attributes this not only to the targeted checks in the summer but also to the rise in VAT rates.

Online