Greece’s Tourists Urged to Pay by Card, Not Cash

FILE - A tourist wearing a black hat to cover from the sun looks at the changing of the guards ceremony outside the Greek parliament, central Athens, on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – With tax inspectors finding widespread tax evasion on Greek islands, particularly Mykonos, tourists are being told to pay with debit or credit cards and demand a receipt and not to pay if they don’t get one, allowed under the law.

Cash is the preferred method of payment at restaurants, tavernas, coffee shops and other businesses so can they hide their income and avoid taxes while also charging customers for Value Added Tax (VAT) and keeping those receipts as well.

Some establishments either say they don’t have Point of Origin (POS) machines – which are required by law – or claim they don’t work, while some use machines registered in other countries so they can duck paying taxes, for which there haven’t been any reported prosecutions.

The Independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE) has started a Apodixi_Please (Receipt, Please) campaign about the use of plastic cards and promoting it on posters and online (aade.gr/apodixi).
“Welcome to Greece! We would like to inform you about your consumer rights. All hotels, restaurants and shops are obliged to accept debit/credit cards. You are not obliged to pay if you don’t get a receipt. So, ask to pay by card. Ask for a receipt,” the posters state.

“It’s so simply to say it in Greek! ‘Apodixi_Please.’”

The AADE tells tourists card payments will ensure that the taxes that area already included in the price of the goods or services they are purchasing will end up in state coffers instead of in the pockets of business owners who are either fined or have their operations suspended up to two days before being allowed to return to cheating instead of being shut down.

“By using your card for your payments and asking for a receipt, you help the Greek tax administration collect taxes that are already included in the price you pay. Practically, you contribute to Greece’s financial recovery and offer us the opportunity to provide you with even better services next time you come to our country,” the website said.

The AADE said to be legal, receipts must bear the 9-digit tax number of the business as well as a 40-digit code at the end although taxi drivers and kiosks aren’t required to use POS machines and can accept cash.

The call comes as the summer season is winding down instead of being promoted when it began and is aimed at hotels, eateries, bars, cafes, clubs and other shops.

AADE has posted the campaign in English on Google, while ads will also go up in airports around the country, complete with instructions on what a valid receipt must include and a list of consumers’ rights – especially the right not to pay for a service or good if the proprietor does not issue a legal retail receipt for the transaction.