ECONOMY

Net closing in on tax frauds

As part of plans to reduce tax evasion, the Finance Ministry intends in the coming days to shut down several businesses found to have been cooking the books, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said yesterday. «We could have done this a few weeks ago but we are moving ahead carefully so that we can locate businesses that have systematically violated tax laws and have a considerable turnover,» said the minister. Ministry sources indicated that the operations to be shut down are nightclubs that have been caught not issuing receipts to patrons in a bid to save on value-added tax. Checks by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) in the first six months of the year have resulted in the Finance Ministry earning an additional 1.5 billion euros in fines and unpaid taxes, versus 700 million euros in the same period a year earlier. Finance Ministry data showed that in the January-May period it collected 520 million euros, out of the 32 billion euros it is owed in back taxes. A large portion of the total amount outstanding is believed to be owed by companies that have since declared bankruptcy or is tied up in lengthy legal disputes.