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Finance Ministry shakes up tax collection to boost revenues

 Dozens of officials being moved as Greece tries to improve gathering of revenues
People line up at a branch of Public Power Corporation in central Athens to pay their electricity bills and their property taxes.

A major shake-up at Greece’s tax authorities was launched on Wednesday, with 164 directors, deputy directors and Finance Ministry observers being moved to different departments as part of efforts to improve tax collection, a longstanding demand of Greece’s lenders.

Some of the directors will retain their positions but be moved to different departments, while others will be demoted. Twenty new officials will be hired to take up positions at the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) and other bodies that carry out inspections. Among those being moved is SDOE’s head of operational planning, Nikos Lekkas, sources said.

However, Kathimerini understands that some of the staff who will be affected by the move have threatened to take legal action against the ministry. They claim that an evaluation process has to be completed before the government can change their positions.

It also emerged on Wednesday that the Finance Ministry had decided to continue a measure that encourages taxpayers to collect receipts for another year. In an appendage to the tax bill already submitted to Parliament, Greeks will have to collect receipts worth 25 percent of their gross income. If they fail to do so, they will face a further tax of 22 percent on the difference between what they collect and the target set by the Finance Ministry. For example, someone earning 30,000 euros a year will have to gather 7,500 euros in receipts. If they gather 5,000 euros, they will be taxed 22 percent of 2,500, which is 550 euros.

The Finance Ministry notched up a small victory on Wednesday when the Supreme Court ruled that an emergency property tax introduced in 2011 could still be levied via electricity bills. Judges accepted the government’s appeal against a first instance court ruling that the Public Power Corporation could not collect the tax, following complaints by consumer groups.

The tax is vital to the government’s revenue targets and having to collect it via another method would have disrupted its fiscal efforts.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday December 19, 2012 (21:57)  
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