Greece to Improve Tax Department Transparency

May 26, 2010 Taxation in Hong Kong

GramvousaThe Greek Government has set out to deliver vast improvements to the integrity of its national tax administration department. The efforts have been initiated with the investigations and dismissal of employees suspected of tax evasion, corruption, smuggling, and other illegal activity.

On May 25th the Finance Ministry of Greece announced a set of sweeping investigations and terminations into employees suspected of illegal activities. According to a statement released by the Ministry, 20 tax-office directors have already been fired for failing to meet preset collection targets. A total of 234 employees have also been selected to be scrutinized for not filing personal tax returns in the 2007-2008 financial year. The property holdings of an additional 70 employees will also be examined. Random investigations will also be conducted on workers throughout all levels of national tax departments. According to the Ministry, the properties under investigation are valued at an average of EUR 1 228 337, while the average salary is EUR 50 834.

The Finance Ministry also announced that it will follow up 50 separate complaints lodged against not only tax agency employees, but Customs officers and other Government-body staff. According to the Ministry, the complaints included charges of document forgery, illegal activity, bribery, smuggling, negligence, and wide-level corruption.

The issued statement explained the need for investigations and corrective measures, saying, “…restoring transparency in tax collection, as well as the reputation of the tax administration in general is essential not only for improving public revenues but also in order to instill a sense of social justice and establish a trustworthy relationship between citizens and the state.” The investigations come as a complement to the Government’s attempts to induce a quick and successful recovery from the nation’s debt crisis. The Finance Ministry has already publicized its goal of reducing Greece’s budget deficit to 4 percent, within four years, from its current level of 13.6 percent.

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