IMF suggests setting up tax courts


The International Monetary Fund has made a number of recommendations to the government in order to assist it in beating tax evasion, including the creation of tax courts. In a report issued to the Finance Ministry this week, the IMF has also suggested the effective management of whistle-blowing, the creation of a 90-day rapid process for the solution of tax differences with taxpayers and the drafting of an exclusive code of conduct for employees at tax offices. The idea of tax courts concerns either the setting up of special tribunals that would deal with tax cases without having to go through normal courts or the appointment of an adequate number of specialized judges to the existing structure of administrative courts who would deal exclusively with tax cases. The report further lists the problems inherent in the Greek tax collection system and the obstacles in the operation of the ministry's mechanisms. The IMF suggests that these problems could prevent Athens from reaching its fiscal targets, as there are huge delays the implementation of the five tax-check squads planned. It also calls for exhaustive checks regarding the payment of value-added tax. Sources suggest that the IMF officials have asked to be involved in the activities of the Finance Ministry squads. The squads were only set up last week and their duties will be to apply the tax reforms, collect outstanding debts, check on high-income and wealthy taxpayers, monitor large enterprises and inspect the payment of taxes due. The IMF recommendations come in the same week as the suggestions by Bank of Greece Governor Giorgos Provopoulos, who cited nonexistent checks by tax collection agencies as leading to burgeoning tax evasion.