ECONOMY

Only major tax evaders to be named and shamed

Amid calls for a more intensive crackdown on tax evasion, the government suggested yesterday it is against a blanket «name and shame» approach, preferring instead selective publication of major tax evaders. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said, «We have chosen a way that is not in favor of shaming; we just investigate the systematic tax evaders and carefully select which names to publicize.» «We will not publicize the name of just any citizen who owes money to the state for some reason,» he said, a few days after the naming of tax-evading doctors. «But the names of systematic tax evaders who make a lot of money and do not declare it will be announced, as public life requires transparency,» Petalotis added. More fines and less bank secrecy are the keys to winning the fight against tax evasion, a National Bank of Greece report suggested yesterday. Paul Mylonas, an NBG chief economist, maintains in the report that some 50 billion euros of income is not declared in Greece each year, equivalent to 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. He calls for an increase in fines and for close auditing of «high-risk» taxpayers as well as of tax inspectors who may also be guilty of tax evasion. He also says that banks should cooperate with the authorities in checks, particularly in view of secrecy clauses that prevent the state from finding out who earns what and how. Greece has one of the strictest laws on bank secrecy, suggests Mylonas, who calls for an immediate relaxation of the relevant provisions for the purpose of identifying tax evaders.