SDOE checks reveal high rate of tax evasion at resorts

Tax evasion at tourist resorts continues to be a key problem for Greek authorities, as more than 1,200 checks by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) between August 6 and 18 on islands and other destinations revealed that one in two businesses was cheating the state.

Although other offenses, such as trading in contraband alcohol, were recorded, tax evasion was the most common misdemeanor recorded by inspectors. More than 100 teams carried out 1,256 checks on bars, restaurants and other establishments, during which 586 businesses were found to have fallen foul of the law, a rate of 46.6 percent.

A total of 5,668 offenses were recorded, with the avoidance of issuing receipts and improper use of cash registers being the most common.

The highest offending rates were on the islands of Amorgos, Paxoi and Symi, where all the businesses checked were found to be breaking the law. They were followed by Santorini with a rate of 96.4 percent, Evia with 85 percent, Rhodes with 81 percent and 80 percent for Myconos and Andros.

In Athens, the offending rate was at 54 percent, while the lowest was in Halkidiki, northern Greece, where 34 percent of businesses checked were flouting tax regulations.

Thirteen business – three nightclubs, four beach bars and six restaurants – were closed for 48 hours as a result of the offenses recorded.

However, Diomidis Spinellis, the former general secretary of information systems at the Finance Ministry, questioned the efficiency of SDOE’s work. He pointed out via his Twitter account that the 100 or so teams working over the period in question averaged only one inspection per team per day.