Tax evasion plan OK’d

The government’s Inner Cabinet yesterday approved Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis’s plan for fighting tax evasion, designed to recover revenues to be used toward social spending. The effort will be spearheaded by the National Committee Against Tax Evasion, which is hoped to include representatives of employers’ organizations and labor unions and will submit recommendations. The campaign is also planned to combine incentives for taxpayers to ask for sale receipts, with stricter penalties for corrupt officials. It is hoped such measures will help to consolidate a change in mentality against tax evasion. Alogoskoufis presented the Inner Cabinet with data showing that one in two self-employed individuals declares net profits lower than the average income of a salaried person, while one in four declares less than the average pensioner. «Tax evasion is not an issue that can be dealt with only at the level of incentives, cross-checks and tax inspections. It has to be chiefly tackled at the level of mentality in society at large… Every time that a citizen does not ask for a receipt, something will inevitably go missing,» Alogoskoufis said. Separately, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos defended the proposed upward revision of Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) by about 25 percent against charges of folly by the main opposition PASOK party. «The government has told Greek citizens the truth, particularly as regards the economy, in contrast to the previous government which lied not only to them but also to its European partners and the international community in general,» he said. PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou recently pointed out that the GDP revision figured in 39th place in a CNN report on the «101 Dumbest Moments in Business: The Year’s Biggest Boors, Buffoons, and Blunderers» for 2006. He charged that as a result Greece will have to pay hundreds of millions of euros more to the EU budget.