Tax collectors told to shape up

The Finance Ministry’s general secretary for tax and customs affairs, Dimitris Georgakopoulos, met yesterday with the head of revenue collection services in the broader Athens area and called on them to boost efforts to collect taxes at a crucial time for the economy. Of the 67 tax offices in Attica, only three have met their goals for the first three months of the year, while the rest have missed their targets, creating a budget shortfall of 216 million euros. According to Georgakopoulos, the income reported by some tax offices has missed intended targets by more than 10 percent with a number of them falling short of projected revenues by more than 20 percent. At the same time, some 23 tax offices have not handed in data on the taxes collected in the first three months of the year, prompting the general secretary to describe their behavior as «unacceptable.» Georgakopoulos instructed the tax office heads to do more to meet goals for the first four months of the year and chase down taxpayers with debts owed to the state by resorting to measures such as repossessing homes and seizing money from bank accounts. Data from the Finance Ministry show that debts owed to the government by taxpayers amounts to 32 billion euros. Tax collection services have been set the goal of collecting 1.5 billion euros of this total amount in 2010; however, it appears unlikely that this goal will be met.

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