ATHENS — It’s unstoppable, but tax evasion in Greece is now so prolific it’s costing the country some 5.35 billion euros ($5.66 billion) a year, the second highest in the Union European.
The amount is equivalent, Kathimerin said in a report, to two years of single property tax (ENFIA) revenue and will be even more costly as the New Democracy government, with elections coming in 2023, reduces this rate.
The European Commission is calling on bloc members to step up efforts to contain VAT fraud, which amounts to more than 134 billion euros ($141.7 billion) across the bloc each year, but no one still has no answer.
Losses in Greece amount to 25.8% of potential VAT revenue, meaning one in four euros is lost at a time when the government has poured billions into COVID-19 pandemic aid and household energy subsidies.
The EU said member states should do better with risk analysis, automatic procedures and information exchange among themselves and to upgrade online systems and technologies to find cheaters.
The report says that despite its reputation for endemic tax evasion, progress has been made in Greece in some areas, including increasing checks on cross-border transactions within the EU, where the greatest amount of fraud is recorded.
From 2000 to 2019, the problem cost Greece around 120 billion euros ($126.89 billion) in money that could have helped society and accounts for more than a third of the 326 billion euros (344, $73 billion) in three international bailouts received.
Raising the money would also have led to reductions in other taxes imposed mainly on workers, pensioners and the poor, who were also the main targets of harsh austerity measures during the bailouts.
The EU also recommended the cross-checking of VAT registration data with third-party sources, enhanced investigations, improved cross-border cooperation of tax authorities, systematic inspections based on risk indices and the creation or keeping a register of taxpayers active in e-commerce.