Checks help lift budget revenues

Government revenues in the first six months rose 10 percent annually, beating the 6.5 percent target, as the state’s push to stamp out tax evasion appears to be paying dividends. Value-added tax (VAT) revenues shot up 22 percent year-on-year in June after recent checks by the Finance Ministry found that 5,000 large companies in the first quarter of the year had not submitted a VAT declaration. A Finance Ministry source said the threat of audits on these businesses helped support a pickup in VAT revenues. The ministry has also started electronically cross-checking data on declarations and has discovered many businesses evading taxes, the source added. The improved figures are also due to tighter controls and checks being implemented on tax employees and offices which fail to meet their set targets. The news will help provide some relief to Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, who is trying to reduce the country’s budget deficit to below 3 percent of output. An increase in special consumption tax on fuel starting this month is expected to help support revenue growth for the rest of the year. Customs offices will be asked to intensify their checks so the ministry can catch tax cheats at borders. Total revenues from customs offices rose 34.3 percent year-on-year.