NEWS

Net cast wider for tax dodgers

The tax records of more entertainers as well as thousands of lawyers are coming under scrutiny, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini, after revelations that singer Tolis Voskopoulos, the husband of Angela Gerekou who resigned last week as deputy tourism and culture minister, owed authorities 5.5 million euros. Gerekou’s resignation came at a time when the government has emphasized that it is determined to clamp down on tax evasion, which costs Greece billions of euros each year. Sources said the Voskopoulos incident will lead to numerous other actors, singers and media stars being investigated by tax inspectors. It also seems that lawyers, particularly high-profile legal firms, will be put under the spotlight as well. The records of some 3,000 lawyers are being checked, according to sources. It is believed that a probe into the practices of four legal firms in Athens is at an advanced stage and that they have been shown to owe the state some 10 million euros in back taxes. The stepping up of the inspections comes as the Finance Ministry has made it known that it intends to auction the properties of 26,000 people who have large unpaid tax bills. The offenders will be given a warning to settle their dues and, if they fail, the ministry will begin proceedings to sell off their homes to raise the outstanding funds. However, officials face a huge task in trying to get to grips with tax evasion, as it is estimated that there are almost 800,000 cases at regional offices that have yet to be investigated. Even if they are successful in taking action, there is no guarantee that it will lead to any speedy payment of penalties due to the legal red tape involved. The high number of cases and the lengthy appeals process means that there are more than 440,000 outstanding cases yet to be heard at administrative courts around the country and almost 35,000 in appeals courts.