Several sectors of the Greek economy rarely use electronic transactions, a statistic which has remained the case since the country’s bailout period.
According to a study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), dozens of sectors active in services which have traditionally topped the tax evasion charts systematically avoid the use of cards.
While services accounted for 59.7% of private consumption in 2019, their share of card payments in value terms accounted for only 31.3%. Card use has particularly low penetration rates in education, professional services (lawyers, doctors etc) and maintenance, while despite the progress recorded there is room for a considerable increase in the use of cards in food service.
The top entries of that list include education, entertainment, health services, car repair shops, property maintenance, hairdressers, travel services and small food retailers.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, those sectors appear to maintain the lead in tax evasion, as data from the Independent Authority for Public Revenue also reveal. The figures, published last week, showed that all of the above professional activities were found guilty of high-scale tax evasion. In contrast, there has been an increase in the use of cards at supermarkets, pharmacies, apparel stores and even in restaurants, where – as the IOBE study points out – there is still great scope for improvement.
What no government has managed in recent years is to contain tax evasion in those sectors. The necessary measures have not been taken, while there are no sufficient incentives for taxpayers as well as professionals to reduce tax evasion.
IOBE General Director Nikos Vettas said targeted measures are needed to increase online transactions in specific economic sectors. For consumers, the proposals include a rebate for online payments in certain sectors or geographical areas, tax discounts for the wide use of online payments in specific sectors, and the application of a more targeted lottery system.