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Society

Ignoring Law, Greek Professionals Won’t Use POS Machines

ATHENS – Most Greek professionals, including doctors and lawyers, aren’t using Point-of-Service (POS) machines to take debit cards for services, preferring cash that can be hidden income to evade taxes, statistics have shown.

The law imposed under the regime of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition requires POS machines for purchases and services as a way to rein in rampant tax cheating but is being ignored with no reports of prosecution.

Thousands of self-employed professionals, also including, accountants, engineers, electricians,  and even taxi drivers, have installed card terminals to comply with legislation, but hardly ever use them, the newspaper Kathimerini said.

It wasn’t reported whether the law merely requires the machines be available or be used as Greek laws are quirky, such as one requiring motorcyclists carry helmets but don’t have to wear them.

The newspaper said it had reviewed the statistics banks have collected regarding the use of card terminals by key professional categories notorious for being tax evaders and found such low use there was evidence of continued dodging on income.

Lawyers – officers of the court sworn to uphold the law are the ones who most break it – with 90 percent not using the POS machines and putting the cash for services in their pockets, the statistics suggest, matched by engineers.

They were followed by electricians, with 80 percent of them accepting cash only, and accountants, at 70 percent. It’s only 38 percent for doctors but those who used them to show compliance reported their income was only 200 euros ($245.50) a month, far below the average income for that profession showing only occasional use of the POS devices.

Three-quarters of dentists accepted at least one card payment last year, which is explained by the costly nature of the work performed, preferring card payments as they reduce the risk of clients building up large arrears, the paper said.

As for taxi drivers, more than 30 percent did not use their card terminals last year, while 80 percent of bakeries accepted at least one payment by card although the scheme was designed to capture all purchases and services not just some or a few.

That pattern was repeated across-the-board with the indication that professionals are showing only occasional use, with 30 percent of accounts reporting an income of only 300 euros ($368.25) per month, 10 percent of lawyers saying they made 600 euros ($736.49) per month and 20 percent of taxi drivers showing their income was 40 euros ($49.10) per month or $1.63 a day, a seeming indicator for a tax audit but it can take up to 10 years to prosecute tax cases in Greece.

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