Greece targets tax evasion at holiday hotspots

Aug 4, 2015 While still navigating the murky waters of the Eurozone bailout, Greece has intensified its effort to recover all hanging revenues, and is focusing on holiday spots who have evaded taxes.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had earlier promised a crackdown on tax evasion, and he is making good on his promise. Deputy Finance Minister Trifon Alexiadis, while speaking to newsmen, outlined the government’s summer plans to crack down on evasion.

We will conduct checks all around Greece, at all tourist regions. We will start in the expensive destinations, the luxurious hotels, and we will go even to the smallest taverns. There is no way that at this period we will leave anything without being checked,”

According to Alexiadis, despite being short-staffed due to budget cuts, the ministry’s financial crimes squad over the past weekend turned up tax violations by almost one in four businesses.

He also said that extra inspectors will be drafted in from other departments to help with the audit push and that public enquiry offices would be closed periodically, so staff can concentrate on the anti-evasion work.

Under the terms of Greece’s third bailout programme, value added tax rates have been increased on Aegean island hotels and restaurants. This has attracted several complaints from tourism industry stakeholders, who said the measure would affect their peak season revenue negatively.

Tourism stands as major revenue source for Greece and accounts for about a fifth of its gross domestic product, making it a much-needed motor of growth and tax revenue for its ailing economy.

According to a recent report on Greece, the International Monetary Fund said that while debt collection was improving in Greece, tax evasion remained widespread among the rich and the self-employed.

Also, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has urged Greece to devise means that will increase the efficiency of tax collection, improve audits and speed up court proceedings to strengthen enforcement.

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