Audits Show 60% of Greek Businesses Cheat on Taxes

(Photo by: EUROKINISSI/GIORGOS KONTARINIS, file).

ATHENS – With Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras not fulfulling his promise to rein in tax cheats, audits for Greek companies have shown some 60 percent are evading what they owe although it hasn’t led to any major prosecutions, shutdown or confiscations or properties, including restaurants and tavernas on islands.

That was based on findings by tax officers who conducted the financial inspections that showed many businesses ignoring a law requiring them to use Point of Sales (POS) machines that take debit and credit cards and are aimed at slowing the use of cash which is easier to hide.

Some professionals who have the machines say they aren’t working, especially doctors and lawyers who are among the biggest tax dodgers with no reports any have been taken to court or severely penalized even if audits uncover cheating.

Inspectors also found POS terminals registered in other countries and tampering with cash registers, said Kathimerini, with violators including construction firms, doctors, bailiffs, tour operators, gas stations and even unemployed and retirees.

The head of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, Giorgos Pitsilis, told ANT1 TV on that authorities are planning 55,000 audits focusing on the catering, hospitality and services sectors but didn’t announce any enforcement plans nor penalties that often are far lighter than the money that can be made by continuing to cheat on taxes, almost an accepted practice in the country especially among the wealthy, many of whom hide their money in secret foreign accounts and aren’t being chased.

Tax officials have the right to seize money from bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and other assets but many of those have been aimed at lower-and-middle income people and families who keep their money in Greek banks that can be accessed.

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