New ways of beating tax evasion

The government is set to try out some new ideas in an effort to combat the country?s still extensive tax evasion through introducing the notion of presumed income for the self-employed based on so-called objective criteria and by installing electronic meters at gas stations.

The Finance Ministry intends to set specific objective criteria for what are seen as the main tax-dodging culprits: the self-employed and small and medium-sized enterprises. The ministry?s agencies will analyze their level of bank deposits, their expenditure in cash, their net position, their cash flow and the relationship between prices and the total turnover.

Other criteria to determine the presumed income will include the kind of activity they engage in, where they work (for example, an upmarket district such as Kolonaki would entail more revenues than less-affluent Patissia), operating expenses, properties and possessions such as real estate and stocks, and many more.

An Alpha Bank report showed yesterday that while revenues from foreign tourists grew significantly this year (up 15 percent in October year-on-year), retail sales volume fell 8.8 percent. While major food stores saw a minimal drop in sales (-0.4 percent), smaller ones reported a 19.7 percent drop on an annual basis. The report explains that this is due to the big ones being forced to issue receipts, while not all small ones do so.

The Finance Ministry signed on Wednesday a joint ministerial decision for the installation of electronic meters at gas stations controlling the inflow and outflow of fuel and their interconnection with the ministry?s tax database. The Development Ministry also needs to sign it.

This came as the publicity generated by the accusations against the general secretary for tax and customs of the Finance Ministry, Yiannis Kapeleris, who has since resigned, has revealed that the ministry was indeed planning on passing a favorable regulation for illegal fuel traders, reducing their fines to a considerable extent.

Since the story came out, the Finance Ministry has said it will re-examine the issue and not proceed with this regulation in the bill to be discussed on Thursday by the Cabinet.

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