Thousands caught in tax dodge

Almost 15,000 taxpayers declared incomes that in some cases were up to 160,000 euros less than the assets they bought in 2003 and thus evaded a substantial amount of tax, the Economy and Finance Ministry said yesterday. After cross-checking tax returns for 2003 with the declaration of assets (pothen eshes) forms for the same year, ministry officials found 14,813 discrepancies. In these cases, taxpayers had declared an income for themselves, and their immediate family if applicable, that totaled less than the value of the assets, such as land, homes and cars, that they purchased. In the most extreme cases, two taxpayers each declared incomes that were 160,000 euros lower than the outlays they made to purchase assets. The majority of incidents (6,200), however, involved people declaring an income up to 2,000 euros smaller than the assets they bought in 2003. The ministry said it was sending the details of the offenders onto the relevant tax offices. Tax evasion in Greece is punishable by fines which are set in proportion to the amount of tax the guilty party has avoided paying.

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