Just 5 pct of tax fines cashed in

Less than 5 percent of fines imposed on taxpayers by administrative courts in recent years have reached public coffers despite efforts being conducted through changes in tax legislation.

Finance Ministry data show that the fines imposed for tax cases add up to 14 billion euros, or 7.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This concerns fines imposed by the ministry’s Taxis Net monitoring mechanism but which were disputed by taxpayers and ended up in court. The tax collection mechanism, however, has only managed to collect 688.5 million euros, or 4.91 percent of the total.

Notably, the 14 billion figure includes a 4.8-billion-euro fine on the Acropolis stockbrokerage firm. Not even the 10 percent that should be paid ahead of referring the case to courts has been collected to date.

According to the detailed data published by the General Secretariat for Information Systems on its website, outstanding tax cases amount to 117,382. This is certainly a major improvement on the 180,935 cases that were pending a year ago. Out of these 117,382 cases, 106,672 are at the court of first instance, 9,410 are in the appeals phase and 1,300 are at the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court.

The ministry’s aim was to meet the country’s obligations as outlined in the memorandum with its creditors by reducing the number of outstanding cases by 80 percent by the end of the year. It is, however, becoming increasingly clear that this target cannot be met.

Still, General Secretariat for Public Revenues officials argue that the new system for the administrative resolution of tax issues, expected to come into force on August 1, will considerably reduce the number of taxpayers resorting to courts. Taxpayers disputing taxes, levies or fines will apply at tax or customs authorities for a review. Each case will be forwarded within seven days to the Internal Review Agency of the General Secretariat for Public Revenues, which will examine claims and issue a verdict within an estimated total of 30 days.