SDOE hunting for tax dodgers at resorts

While a VAT reduction in Greece’s food service sector came into force on August 1, a special task force has been sweeping the country’s holiday resorts in a bid to recoup millions in unpaid revenues.

Some 1,400 inspectors from the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) have reportedly been conducting checks at nightclubs, restaurants, bars and hotels, often posing as tourists.

The minimum penalty for tax dodging is the forced closure of the business for 48 hours, but that can be extended to 30 days depending on the offense.

Nine businesses were fined on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos island in the past few days after inspectors found they were not issuing proper receipts.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of consumers are using Twitter to report cases of tax evasion instead of submitting an official complaint with SDOE. Haris Theoharis, the government’s general secretary for public revenue and a self-professed techie, has received dozens of these messages.

“Some guys at Valtos beach at Parga [in northwestern Greece] are renting beach umbrellas without issuing receipts,” one user said in a tweet to Theoharis (@htheoharis), whose Twitter bio reads IT Monkey.

The government hopes that the temporary tax break, which will last until the end of the year, will boost spending and tourism in debt-hit Greece. It says that the reduction, which is expected to lead to the loss of some 100 million euros in tax revenues, will benefit the country in the long run as it encourages spending is expected to result in business owners declaring more of their revenues to the authorities.