ECONOMY

Fresh hunt for tax evaders

The government is tightening the tax monitoring of major companies, after a disappointing rate of revenue collection in the last two months. Deputy Finance Minister Antonis Bezas has instructed the General Secretariat for Information Systems to begin a cross-checking drive, mainly of big firms’ data. Several companies appear either not to have paid any value-added tax or to have paid minimum amounts to avoid any suspicions of the auditing mechanisms, sources say. Following the smaller-than-expected rise in state revenues in May (only 1.9 percent), ministry officials are determined to use the whole monitoring mechanism as well as some forgotten clauses of the legislation. The processing of this year’s tax statement data shows that major companies and credit institutions paid 320 million euros less in taxes due to the decline of tax rates. In total, companies paid 56 percent less in taxes than they did a year ago, owing to increased incidences of tax evasion. Officials of the ministry are also reactivating legal clauses related to internal control. Inspectors are joining the battle against tax evasion, to avoid corruption or unusual transactions between the authorities and taxpayers. The tax control department will face such problem areas by setting new rules for inspectors of the Finance Ministry, forcing them to complete any checks they conduct within 15 days.