Friday

23rd Jun 2017

Greek taxmen may be dodging taxes, too

Tax inspectors in Greece are underpaid, working in poor conditions and some 130 of them have personal bank accounts abroad - possibly indicating tax evasion, according to an internal report by the IMF and EU.

Leaked to Greek media on Thursday (28 February), the draft report casts a grim light on the Greek government's efforts to shake up its tax collection system as part of the bailout requirements demanded from international creditors.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Corruption and political meddling still hamper tax collection in Greece (Photo: Chris Tolworthy)

More than half of tax collectors are over 50 years old, underpaid, in some cases even lacking an own desk or computer, the 72-page report says.

Internal checks also found evidence that some 130 tax inspectors have bank accounts abroad, a sign of possible tax evasion.

Reforms undertaken by the Greek government are "muddled" and "slow", leaving the tax collecting system still prone to "political tampering or corruption."

Last year, Greece only collected €1.1 billion in overdue taxes, a little over half of its declared target of €2bn. The state still has to claw back some €55 billion, amounting to 30 percent of the country's national output, the report says. But many of the companies owing taxes have gone bankrupt.

The international experts doubt that Greece will manage to meet its tax collection target for 2013 without immediately hiring some 200 new inspectors and focusing on the 1,500 biggest debts.

In reaction to the leaked report, Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras said that "a lot has happened" since January when the paper was drafted.

"We are carefully studying everything, and, taking the comments into account, we will proceed," he told reporters in Athens on Thursday.

The Greek finance ministry put out a statement saying that 1,680 out of the 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts on the informal list drafted by the IMF chief Christine Lagarde had been identified and their tax declarations are being checked.

The troika of officials from the EU commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund is returning to Athens on Sunday to begin its review needed for the next bailout tranche to be disbursed. Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday are also likely to discuss the Greek situation.

Tax revenues are an important factor in the troika evaluation, with latest budget data showing a €300 million shortfall in January. February also ended with a gap, but Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told lawmakers earlier this week the revenue intake gap will be covered by spending cuts.

The news of further cuts comes as the population is already under intense strain. A quarter of the workforce is unemployed and the country is in its sixth year of recession.

French leader promises anti-tax-cheat crusade

French leader Hollande has promised to "eradicate" tax havens in the EU and in the wider world, after his approval rating fell to 26 percent following a tax scandal.

Row between EU ministers halts e-book tax rate

A bill to reduce VAT rates on e-books and e-publications has become the latest victim of a row between the Czech Republic and its partners over its own plan to collect VAT.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Italy reaches EU deal on failing bank

After months of negotiations, the European Commission and Italy agreed on the terms of rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, including job cuts, salary caps and private sector involvement in the bailout.

News in Brief

  1. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  2. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  3. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  4. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  5. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal
  6. US issues warrant for VW managers, German media say
  7. EU extends sanctions against Russia
  8. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  2. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  3. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  4. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  5. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  6. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  7. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  8. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  11. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  12. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June