Ministry targets property owners

The Finance Ministry is expected in coming weeks to target an estimated 100,000 property owners who have hidden information on real estate holdings as the government’s crackdown on tax evasion spreads, a source told Kathimerini yesterday. Tax inspectors will be cross-checking electronic data on some 30 million properties with declarations handed in last year by property owners to determine who has «forgotten» to pay the necessary taxes. Sources estimate that a levy payable on large property values (FMAP) is being paid by only half of those who should be paying it. This means that more than 100,000 taxpayers are getting away with not paying this amount, the government source said. It is the first time that the ministry will be proceeding with such thorough checks. Greece has increased the number of audits on businesses and individuals in the last few months in a bid to help support budget revenue growth. On-the-spot audits have started in retail stores and other businesses on weekends and during evening hours. The government is committed to slashing the budget deficit this year to below 3 percent of gross domestic product for the first time. In a positive sign for the budget, revenues in the first six months of 2006 rose 10 percent versus a 6.5 percent target. Furthermore, senior officials will be paying all tax offices a visit over the course of the summer to check on poorly performing tax centers.