Greece’s drive to crack down on flagrant tax evaders such as doctors and lawyers is flagging and must be reinvigorated, a report by the European Union and International Monetary Fund said on Monday.
Athens has collected just half the tax debts and conducted less than half the audits it was supposed to under the targets set by its lenders, according to a survey by the country’s international lenders which was compiled in November.
“The mission expresses concern that authorities are falling idle and that the drive to fight tax evasion by the very wealthy and the free professions is at risk of weakening,” it said.
By the end of September authorities had conducted 440 checks on suspected wealthy tax evaders, compared with a full-year target of 1,300. About 1.1 billion euros in overdue taxes have been collected so far, less than the 2 billion euros targeted.
The lenders urged Greece to improve tax collection and focus on the cases most likely to produce results. “Doctors and lawyers are a good place to start,” they said.
Tax evasion is endemic in Greece, making it more difficult for the government to shore up its finances under its 240-billion-euro international bailout.
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Greece does not have the means to police its underground economy, which is considered very large compared to the size of the country. Austerity measures that cut the size of government will make enforcement of tax laws even more difficult. That is too bad because there is a lot of money to be had if only Greece could get cash … Continue reading »