ATHENS – Greece is having trouble recruiting tax inspectors who often face harassment and even violence as they try to rein in cheats, but low pay levels has seen many prospective applicants turning up their noses at the job, even during an ongoing economic crisis.
With many professionals not using required Point-of-Service (POS) machines or saying they aren’t working so they can ask for cash that can be hidden to avoid paying taxes, and businesses using schemes to duck taxes, the inspectors have one of the most thankless jobs.
The Independent Authority for Public Revenue saw staffing levels drop in 2018, leaving them more than 4 percent below a target of 12,000, according to a European Commission report, the financial news agency Bloomberg cited.
The problem is partly due to successful applicants turning down job offers, which may be because of pay demands, it was said, with the reporting recommending higher salary levels and grading tailored for the IAPR as “essential to attract highly-qualified staff.”
“The reasons for the shortfall include delays in ongoing recruitment of tax/customs officials and higher than expected exits (mainly through retirements), but also due to a relatively high rejection rate of offers extended by IAPR to successful candidates,” it was said.
If the agency doesn’t speed up hiring a staffing target increase to 12,500 could be missed with international creditors demanding better collection rates although the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which imposed an avalanche of tax hikes critics said only made more people not want to pay, has largely failed to rein in tax cheats.
Greece is already lagging behind on a number of reform goals it needs to qualify for debt relief and the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) is holding back the first of a series of every-six month releases of 750 million euros ($855.9 million) in the return of profits of Greek bonds.
Despite being understaffed, the authority still met nine of its 11 key performance targets year, an increase from four in 2017, including a large step up in the collection of assessed tax and penalties of high wealth individuals after audits, said Bloomberg.
But the government has still been largely unable to go after people hiding their money in secret foreign bank accounts in places like Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Australia.