Bid to curb tax eva­sion

Gov’t re­veals list of debtors as cred­i­tors said to ob­ject to idea of amnesty

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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.

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