ECONOMY

Checks reveal tax evasion rampant at holiday resorts

The measures that have been taken to combat tax evasion are clearly insufficient as summer checks carried out by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) around the country?s holiday resorts highlight that the problem has spiraled out of control.

About six out of every 10 enterprises checked on the islands and at other tourism destinations were found to be contravening tax legislation. There were some spots where the phenomenon of tax dodging amounted to 100 percent. According to data released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday, the squad performed 1,410 inspections within 17 days and identified violations at 805 enterprises, with an average of as many as 28 violations per business.

The average amount of tax evasion came to 57.1 percent, but in popular destinations such as Myconos, Santorini, Crete, Kos, Corfu, Lefkada and Zakynthos, the recorded rate was extremely high: On Kos, 42 enterprises were monitored and all were found to have broken the tax rules, with 1,103 violations recorded in total. The picture at Rethymno on Crete and Lefkada in the Ionian was similar.

Extremely high evasion rates were also recorded at the most popular tourism destinations: In Hania, Crete, 86.7 percent of enterprises were dodging paying taxes, on Santorini it was 83 percent, in Iraklio 77.8 percent, on Corfu 75 percent, on Naxos 72.7 percent and on Myconos 68.5 percent. However, the record for the highest figure of violations appears to be held by Evia, with 44 out of the 81 enterprises inspected falling foul a total of 12,829 times, or 291 violations per enterprise. SDOE officials say typical violations concern the non-issuing of receipts, improper — if any — bookkeeping, and the undervaluing of revenues from tourism services offered.

For the summer period, SDOE has been conducting targeted inspections at enterprises of all kinds and financial size, with a particular focus on areas with major tourism traffic and increased financial activity. The idea is not only to combat tax evasion, but also to create an atmosphere of deterrence.