OPINION

Electronic help in trimming red tape

In a country like Greece, where 40 percent of income evades tax, it makes little sense to force lottery ticket vendors to keep account books. Similarly, it is counterproductive that thousands of self-employed and firms’ accountants have to wait in line to register their account books, when there are electronic means available to inspect economic activity. And, finally, the tax office decision to classify stands at a trade fair as company branches is, at best, an anachronism. The new bill drafted by the Ministry of National Economy aims to do away with much of the red tape by streamlining the accounts and tax documents code. A major breakthrough is the electronic monitoring of exchanges. The process ensures that, first, professionals will have to spend less time registering their account books. And, secondly, it will reduce the number of contacts between taxpayers and inspecting bodies, long seen as a source of corruption. The proposed legislation proves that there are in fact ways to curb maladministration. Simplifying procedures should be a top priority. That can be achieved by reducing the inspection of taxable income on professional groups with small contributions to public funds (indeed, how much could a street vendor earn?) and by introducing digital means that can save time and money – for both sides. The overhaul of the code was long due. We must welcome the government’s steps to reform the system, but the conservatives’ efforts should not stop here. Life and the economy move at a faster pace than the state. Many ills dogging Greece’s tax system must be tackled. The government has only just begun.