Tax audits improve yield

The government’s efforts to extract the maximum amount of back taxes from unaudited businesses, especially small and medium-sized companies, appeared to be paying off as the yield from this source rose by close to 50 percent in the first nine months of the year, following audits of their value-added taxes and annual tax returns, statistics from the Finance Ministry showed yesterday. The ministry has been putting the squeeze on small businesses and the self-employed this year in the wake of the prolonged slump in the Athens stock market, which has seen revenues from equity transactions fall dramatically. Tax takings from stock transactions were down by 47 percent in the January-September period, offset, however, by a 11 percent increase in VAT revenues. The clampdown on small businesses and the self-employed added 1 billion euros to the state coffers, an increase of 47 percent, according to Finance Ministry data. In the first nine months of the year, tax offices checked slightly more than 11,000 cases countrywide involving companies with unaudited value-added taxes, double the number in the same period last year, the Finance Ministry said. In September, 1,414 companies were called up for audits, up by 6 percent. Tax offices also audited some 66,000 cases on their annual tax returns in the first nine months of the year, up from 31,449 cases in the previous year. Last month alone, 8.312 companies were audited. The audits yielded 177.9 million euros in revenues, marking an increase of 60 percent. Last week, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry slammed the government for its tough audit stand, saying the tax inspections intimidated small businesses and could damage the economy. It also called for a fairer taxation system and a revamp of tax offices.