Tuesday Jan 27, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
13o C
7o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
A taxing issue for Greece

By Nick Malkoutzis

Greece’s tax collectors were told over the weekend that they would have to do a much better job this year at gathering overdue taxes. How much better? Almost 200 percent.

According to Skai TV, some 700 million euros was collected in 2011 by chasing down taxpayers that had run up debts. This year, inspectors will have to collect 2 billion euros as Greece tries to meet even tougher fiscal targets amid a deepening recession.

Preliminary figures showed that tax revenues were already 1 billion euros short of the government’s target in January alone, with VAT receipts showing a considerable drop. As consumption decreases, so do revenues, which makes it even more vital that any existing debts are settled.

However, to do that, Greece needs the appropriate personnel and know-how. Although progress is being made both in terms of the information technology being used by the tax service and the assessment of staff, there is still considerable ground to be covered.

It’s more than just a question of installing new software and retraining staff. It’s an issue of shedding the mentality and practices of the past and replacing them with something new. This is something more complicated and time-consuming.

The backwardness of Greece’s public administration, it’s ability to trip itself up either by mistake or on purpose, is one of the factors that the Europeans and the International Monetary Fund grossly underestimated over the last couple of years.

This self-destructive tendency was in evidence on Saturday when tax collectors belonging to one union protested outside Greece’s National School of Public Administration as exams took place inside with the aim of assembling a crack squad of 1,000 tax inspectors that would tackle tax arrears and evasion more effectively. The protestors felt that members of the other tax collectors’ union were being favored. Cynics might say that a tax collection A-team wouldn’t suit some of their colleagues who have a nice sideline in pocketing bribes in return for turning a blind eye. Upsetting this clandestine business would hit their incomes hard.

Either way, the outcome of the protest, which prompted the intervention of the police, was that only a few dozen inspectors took the test. When compared with the news from Italy over the weekend that more than 70 tax inspectors were sent to Courmayeur ski resort to check if receipts are being issued, one can see what a huge distance Greece has to cover.

Some would suggest that the only way forward is for the whole department to be stripped down and rebuilt. If the short-term hole in revenues that this would create weren’t a problem, perhaps it would be worth contemplating. But there’s another reason that this approach isn’t feasible. As part of the new loan agreement, Greece has committed to letting 150,000 civil servants go by 2015. It has also promised to only hire 1 public sector employee for every five that leave.

This means that overhauling any department is out of the question because new hires cannot be made in significant numbers. Any change has to be a gradual process of evolution. With its lenders bearing on Greece, this unsatisfying compromise is hardly going to be enough to produce the results everyone wants.

[Kathimerini English Edition]

ekathimerini.com , Sunday February 19, 2012 (23:19)  
Greece, where everyone´s a winner
Political faux pas
SYRIZA´s win will test institutions
The challenge for Tsipras and others
Death count rises to 11 in military jet crash at Spanish base
The death toll from the crash of a Greek F-16 at a Spanish military base during an elite NATO pilot training program rose to 11 Tuesday after one of the French airmen who suffered serious bu...
Three days of mourning declared over death of two Greek pilots in Spain
The Greek armed forces will observe three days of mourning following the death on Monday of two Hellenic Air Force pilots whose F-16 fighter jet crashed during NATO-led exercises in southeas...
Inside News
Europe stocks fall from seven-year high; Greek bonds drop
European stocks fell from a seven-year high as results from Siemens AG and Royal Philips NV disappointed investors. Greek bonds slid for a second day while US natural gas jumped as cold weat...
Greek uncertainty weighs on low-rated eurozone bonds
Low-rated eurozone bond yields edged higher on Tuesday as investors waited anxiously to see whether Greece's new anti-bailout government would clash with their European Union partners. Europ...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Basket League favorites survive challenges on the road
PAOK consolidated its position in the top three of the Basket League with a triumph at AGO Rethymnou on Saturday, while Olympiakos and Panathinaikos emerged victorious from their tough away ...
SOCCER
Olympiakos overcomes depleted OFI at Iraklio
Easy though it may seem, Olympiakos’s 3-0 win at depleted OFI Crete was rather difficult on Saturday, but was enough to keep the Reds on top on Saturday, as they have maintained their two-po...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Death count rises to 11 in military jet crash at Spanish base
2. Europe stocks fall from seven-year high; Greek bonds drop
3. Three days of mourning declared over death of two Greek pilots in Spain
4. Greek uncertainty weighs on low-rated eurozone bonds
5. Greek Elections 2015: Forming a government, Part 1 | LIVE
6. Basket League favorites survive challenges on the road
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015: Forming a government, Part 1 | LIVE
2. Greece, where everyone's a winner
3. Political faux pas
4. Three days of mourning declared over death of two Greek pilots in Spain
5. Greek uncertainty weighs on low-rated eurozone bonds
6. Europe stocks fall from seven-year high; Greek bonds drop
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
3. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
4. Greeks fork out nearly 5 pct of their incomes on telecom services
5. QE exclusion a ‘de facto Grexit’
6. Unsupervised voting
Advertiser Link
SMART WATER Project: Outputs and conclusions of the final conference
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.