Bid to net debts to state

The government is preparing to offer individuals and businesses more favorable payment plans for unpaid tax bills after seeing the amount that taxpayers owe to the state climb by some 13 billion euros last year.

Speaking to Sunday’s Kathimerini, the new general secretary for revenues, Haris Theocharis, said that with total debts to the state exceeding 50 billion euros, the government would attempt to collect some of this money by tailoring payment plans to the financial capacity of each taxpayer.

“The current framework for settling debts is outdated,” said Theocharis. “We can follow the lead of banks, which create payment plans when customers cannot pay the installments on their loans.

“We will ask taxpayers themselves to propose what they can pay. They will have to provide evidence of the financial status. Based on this information, we will judge each case individually.”

The troika has shown a reluctance to accept schemes that allow debts to be written off but Theocharis said he believes Greece’s lenders will not reject the current proposal.

The Finance Ministry official said that the process of hiring an extra 200 tax inspectors is already under way as the government attempts to rein in tax evasion, an area that the troika has also placed great emphasis on.

“We will make greater use of technology, especially in areas such as the collection of value-added tax, which showed a big drop in January,” said Theocharis, without giving further details.

“We are putting inspectors were there are major cases, where there is evidence of tax evasion,” he said. “We have transferred inspectors to some regions that had major problems from other areas where they had more staff and fewer cases to tackle.”

Theocharis also revealed that internal checks have been stepped up to root out any corruption with the ministry. He said that 110 staff members would be inspected by the end of the year and all employees would from now on have their source of wealth (“pothen esches”) forms checked each year. He added that 130 tax inspectors would also be checked this year. “I will not accept any excuses regarding issues of corruption,” he said.

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