The head of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (IAPR), Giorgos Pitsilis, said that a law to protect Greek tax inspectors will be tightened in the wake of a spate of cases involving business owners threatening officials.
His comments came a few hours after the owner of a pastry shop near Volos in central Greece fired a shotgun in the air to scare off three tax officials who had visited his premises to conduct an inspection and had subsequently imposed a fine of 500 euros on him for not issuing receipts.
The incident, on Thursday evening, followed a similar one on Patmos last month, when a business owner attacked a tax inspector visiting his store, punching him in the face.
“A special framework is needed to ensure their protection,” Pitsilis told Kathimerini when asked about the recent spike in attacks on tax inspectors. “Such acts [of violence] against state officials and inspection authorities cannot be addressed in the same way as attacks on regular citizens,” he said.
In a written statement released earlier in the day, Pitsilis said he had received the go-ahead from his superiors to “tighten the legal framework in order to protect, to the greatest extent possible, the authority’s inspectors against any sort of violence or threats.”
“Any form of violence is intolerable,” he said, adding that armed threats were “unthinkable.”
It remained unclear exactly what kind of disincentives will be introduced to put off prospective offenders.
Reports about the incident at the pastry shop near Volos went viral on social media yesterday with details of a police raid that followed the firing of warning shots.
Police officers searching the premises confiscated several guns and ammunition, for which the owner had no licenses, as well as 350,000 euros in cash which, according to sources, had been hidden in a washing machine. The store owner faced a magistrate later on a string of criminal charges.
Later on Friday Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou said inspections by tax officials would continue “as normal and at the same intensive rate in all parts of Greece with the aim of stamping out tax evasion.”