Tax office to hook up with firms

The Economy and Finance Ministry said yesterday it will call for tenders to link the tax department electronically with cash registers used by businesses as part of efforts to stamp out tax evasion and boost budget revenues. With revenues some 4.2 billion euros short of the budget target in the first half of the year, the ministry wants to hook up with the records kept by businesses in a bid to catch tax dodgers that are estimated to cheat the government out of 20 billion euros in revenue each year. «The aim is to ensure the direct provision of information, in order to stop fake invoices being issued and to fight against those who evade paying value-added tax,» the ministry said in a statement. The tender procedure will be held in two stages. In the first, interested parties will be invited to submit their technical plans that will enable the tax department to access cash registers and invoices issued by businesses in real time. In a second stage, bidders will then be required to hand in a final offer based on ministry feedback relating to system requirements. Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou is expected to present the measure as one of the structural changes the government is advancing when he goes to Brussels in October to ask for more time to reduce Greece’s budget deficit. The Greek government is expected to ask the European Commission for an additional year to reduce its budget deficit to below 3 percent of gross domestic product, blaming the global crisis for the sharp drop off in tax revenue. Greece’s economy is expected to enter its first recession in 15 years in 2009. The EU executive Commission and the OECD see Greek gross domestic product shrinking at an annual rate of 0.9 and 1.25 percent respectively. The National Statistical Service is scheduled to unveil data on Greece’s second-quarter GDP figures tomorrow.