NEWS

Tax inspectors scrutinized

After targeting tax dodgers in a bid to increase revenues, the government is poised to launch a major crackdown on tax inspectors after discovering that tens of companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange have not had their accounts checked for some five years, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and his deputy Antonis Bezas have decided to conduct thorough checks on tax inspectors who work for both nationwide and regional centers, sources said. The checks will focus on centers that are responsible for inspecting the accounts of large firms, banks and listed companies. Preliminary checks have revealed that these offices have not been working properly. The law stipulates that listed companies should have their accounts audited at least every two years but 72 firms have not had their figures checked for four to six years. The government hopes that inspections will reveal whether this has been due to corruption, mismanagement or other causes. Tax inspectors have long been feared figures because of their powers to impose financial penalties but allegations are rife of some officials accepting bribes in return for a display of leniency. The ruling conservatives have made a big effort to step up the state’s revenue collecting capacity as they try to fill gaps in the budget. In the first five months of this year, the State collected 1.5 billion euros, compared to 650 million euros during the same period last year. However, there was a rapid decline in the revenue rate during April and May. This was mainly because of the low amount of tax collected from businesses. This development forced the government to consider other ways of beefing up its revenues. Alogoskoufis and Bezas have decided to examine the practices of tax inspectors by setting up a committee which will check each official individually. The panel will take a look at all the cases taken on by each inspector over the last three years.