ECONOMY

Bogus invoices hit tax revenue

The State increasingly faces the problem of bogus invoices in recent years, losing tens of billions of dollars in unpaid value added tax (VAT), according to estimates by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE). A report submitted to SDOE General Secretary Dimitris Batzelis warns that it is becoming increasingly difficult to track down bogus invoices and that tax-evaders are becoming increasingly sophisticated. There are companies, for example, expressly set up for the purpose of registering false transactions. There is also an increasing number of invoices which are extremely difficult to verify, such as invoices from foreign companies for services such as «market research» or «provision of know-how.» The issue is a big headache for the Finance Ministry, which urgently wants to maximize revenues in order to help reduce the country’s heavy debt. There are several proposals being considered, but there are doubts about their effectiveness even at the planning stage. The proposed measures include requiring the name of the recipient on all invoices exceeding 5 million drachmas (14,670 euros), making payments by bank check – whose number will be written on the invoice – mandatory, obliging new companies to deposit a letter of guarantee at a bank – to be returned after the first year of operations – and increasing fines. Authorities are also hopeful that cross-checking individual and company data through the TAXIS computerized system will assist them in apprehending persons and companies who falsify invoices.