Tax offices block new reform bill

Tax inspectors have convinced the government to put on hold the overhaul of their service after threatening work-to-rule action, source said on Friday.

The Finance Ministry has had to put on hold its plans to shakeup the service and to transform the way it is run. One of the key elements to this would have been to reduce the role played by tax offices in the actual inspection of records so they could focus more on serving the public.

The government has already said that it wants to create a more specialized tax collection and inspection service in a bid to boost its revenues and is willing to offer contracts to private companies to do the job.

The plans are part of an effort to overhaul all the departments that fall under the Finance Ministry’s control. The revamp would include the streamlining the ministry’s several general directorates into just three.

However, tax officials have voiced their objection to the plan and threatened they would protest unless the government redrafts the bill. Given that the government is desperate to collect more revenues to avoid having to increase taxes, the Finance Ministry has backed down and will attempt to introduce the reforms in the summer.

Meanwhile, 18 Finance Ministry inspectors have been given until March 20 to give evidence in connection with allegations that they cost the state tens of millions of euros by scrubbing out the taxes owed by several businesses.

A prosecutor has asked the inspectors to answer questions about how 25 companies had their outstanding taxes or penalties for non-payment expunged from the records between 2006 and 2008. Some of the officials are still working for the Finance Ministry.

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