Tax hunt is on to meet elusive revenue target

The danger of great deviation in the the collection of budgeted public revenues, largely due to the perennial problem of tax evasion, is forcing the Finance Ministry to sound the alarm to tax officials. Deputy Finance Minister Antonis Bezas yesterday instructed tax offices in the country’s most «productive» revenue-raising areas to set up 20 special inspection teams for fighting incidences of tax evasion. They are mainly in the prefectures of Attica, Thessaloniki, Achaia, Larissa and Iraklion as well as in the most prominent tourist areas. The inspections will start on June 15, will cover the full gamut of economic activity, irrespective of size of firm, and will intensify throughout the year, but especially during the summer, Bezas said. The ministry said on Monday that public revenues grew by a disappointing 1.9 percent last month, year-on-year, against an annual target of 6.5 percent. This was the second month in a row that performance fell short of the target. The inspections will be carried out even in the evening and tax offices in the selected areas will remain open to assist the inspectors with relevant data if required. Consumers are expected to play an important role and will be required to show receipts to inspectors and cooperate in any way necessary. For the purposes of the tax hunt, the ministry is urgently procuring about 1,800 lap tops which will be distributed to inspectors shortly. This is seen as an important departure from usual practice in the past, when inspectors tended to work «empirically,» without in-depth data. The inspected businesses will be issued with a copy of the results of the inspection in triplicate. In order to minimize the adverse effect of corruption among tax inspectors – which is blamed in good measure for revenue shortfalls – the inspecting teams will be reshuffled every week.

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