ECONOMY

Tradesmen decry State’s efforts to fight tax evasion

The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce yesterday questioned the pertinence of the government’s decision to force businesses to issue special records as part of its strategy to combat tax evasion. Not only was the effect doubtful, the move was likely to jack up companies’ costs, the confederation stressed. «The argument by the Finance Ministry that this will cut down on fake invoices is not convincing,» it said. It said unscrupulous companies would not be deterred by the move, while legal businesses would face an additional cost burden. «This must be a first for Greece worldwide and even if it is not, it could possibly be practiced in some Third World country because there is surely no such system in the EU or in the West,» the confederation charged. It questioned the wisdom of enforcing the requirement on companies generating revenues of some 2.95 million euros. The existing system is currently working well for companies in this category, without any evidence of fake invoices issued by these firms, the confederation said. «We thus have to wonder why these companies are targeted,» it said. The Finance Ministry should also consider the additional costs to businesses from installing the equipment. Nobody can predict the direct costs to the company, as it will depend on the compatibility between the existing computer software with the new software. The confederation also criticized the short time given by the government to businesses to install the equipment. It claimed that companies supplying the equipment could take advantage of their dominant position. The confederation urged the government to relaunch a dialogue on tax reform and on the issue. Fake invoices continued to be a sore point with the government as it deprives state coffers of much-needed revenues. Revenues in the first five months have largely failed to come up to expectations even as expenditure soared on the back of higher wage bills, higher social security contributions and weather-related compensation. The Finance Ministry earlier this year busted a ring in Thessaloniki which had issued fake invoices for exports. The Financial Crimes Squad is currently probing fake invoices to the tune of 47 million euros issued by Athanassios Athanassoulis’s Altec group.