Bid to curb tax evasion
Gov’t reveals list of debtors as creditors said to object to idea of amnesty
The government’s hopes of raising revenue from tax evaders appear to be fading as Greece’s creditors object to plans to offer an amnesty to debtors who voluntarily visit their tax offices to settle dues, sources have indicated.
Members of the Government Council for Economic Policy (KYSOIP) met yesterday for talks that focused on draft legislation aimed at intensifying a crackdown on tax evasion. Greek officials are to send the bill to the creditors over the coming days with the aim of bringing it to Parliament by August 5. Before finalizing the bill, Greek authorities will try to convince foreign auditors to provide an amnesty from criminal charges for tax evaders who visit the authorities with the intention of clearing their debts.
The government had hoped that such an amnesty would lead to the repatriation of large sums from abroad. Without such an incentive, officials doubt that tax evaders will come forward.
So far the basic framework for the bill foresees the following: Those who declare sums that had been concealed from tax authorities will see their income taxed at the rate that applied in the year the income was obtained, for instance at a rate of 40 percent in 2009 and 42 percent in 2015; the taxpayer will be obliged to supply bank statements to prove when the income was acquired; the taxpayer will qualify for a 100 percent discount from fines incurred if they repay the full amount.
The Finance Ministry yesterday made public a list of 13,730 debtors who owe a total of 83 billion euros to the state. However, as the list in- cludes a large number of bankrupt companies and individuals who have lost their assets, only 15 percent of it is estimated to be collectible.
Topping the list with a debt of 8.45 billion euros is Acropolis Securities, the Athens brokerage that was at the center of the 2007 structured bond scandal involving four pension funds. Next is the former state carrier Olympic Airlines with debts of 1.35 billion euros, Atlantic supermarket, which owes 654.5 million euros, and Hellenic Defense Systems with debts of 630 million euros.
A delegation of 25 Finance Ministry employees, led by Alternate Minister Tryfon Alexiadis, is to travel to Duesseldorf this weekend for a seminar on improving techniques for cracking down on tax evasion and money laundering.