Greece lost 5.3 billion euros in revenues from value-added tax in 2019, according to a new study published on Thursday by the European Commission.
The country suffered the biggest VAT revenue loss in the EU after Romania, but remains the state with the greatest losses in the eurozone by far. In total EU states lost an estimated €134 billion in VAT takings in 2019.
If the government were to contain the losses to the same level as Portugal (7.9%, instead of 25.8% of anticipated VAT revenues that Greece lost in 2019), it would have enjoyed far greater fiscal leeway: It could increase spending on education by almost 60%, or raise healthcare expenditure by 30%, or double defense spending, or raise civil servants’ salaries by 30%.
VAT evasion has remained almost unchanged in the last few years, showing that the policies implemented have not fetched any results of note. Nevertheless, the mandatory use of online bookkeeping is very likely to bring major changes – mainly identifying and stopping fraud in VAT rebates, according to officials at the Independent Authority for Public Revenue.