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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 04:41 AM

Greece names and prosecutes celebrity tax evaders

As the world frets over the country's increasingly unmanageable debt burden, the finance ministry has revealed that 4,151 Greeks owe €14.9bn (£12.4bn) to the state – more than the €14.5bn bond repayment Athens has to make in March.

The list includes the singer Tolis Voskopoulos, a former basketball star, Michael Misounof and high-profile entrepreneurs, many of them behind bars. Fifteen offenders owed more than €100m, each, in back taxes with one man, an accountant serving several life sentences, owing €952m.

Greece is estimated to have lost about €60bn in unpaid taxes according to an EU report released in November. The nearly €15bn owed by those named and shamed on Monday is the equivalent of 0.7% of the country's gross economic output. The dodgers had gone to extraordinary lengths to hide earnings, often stashing their money in offshore accounts.

Tax evasion is seen as the single biggest drain on revenues with EU and IMF officials blaming the country's missed budget targets on this dodge.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jan/23/greece-names-tax-evaders


Greece has a labour force of about 5 million; so we're basically looking at the 0.1% here, screwing the country. Again.

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Reply Greece names and prosecutes celebrity tax evaders (Original post)
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2012 OP
dipsydoodle Jan 2012 #1
girl gone mad Jan 2012 #2
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2012 #5
girl gone mad Jan 2012 #8
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2012 #9
girl gone mad Jan 2012 #10
dipsydoodle Jan 2012 #6
girl gone mad Jan 2012 #7
malaise Jan 2012 #3
girl gone mad Jan 2012 #4

Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:15 AM

1. Associated news from last year

Greece To Track Citizens' Purchases To Solve Tax Evasion Problem.

The only thing certain in life is death and taxes. Except if you live in Greece, where as the New Yorker’s James Surowiecki puts it, “tax evasion is the national pastime.” To fix the problem, the government is going to start tracking its citizens’ spending in real-time.

Surowiecki and others have attributed many of Greece’s financial woes to its huge untaxed shadow economy, which is estimated to be more than a quarter of its GDP (In the U.S., just 9% of our GDP is in the dark.) Greece has come up with interesting, technological ways to find tax evaders, including looking at satellite images to see how many people were lying about having home pools. While 324 people in one area had reported having a pool on their tax forms, almost 17,000 homes in that area in fact had water-filled holes in the ground in their backyards when viewed from above. (Thanks, Google Maps!)

Some studies suggest that Greece is missing out on $30 billion in taxes, so the cash-strapped country is trying something new: forcing consumers to track their spending with a government-issued tax card.

The cards look like credit cards, but contain no personally identifiable information beyond the person’s tax id number. They will swipe during a purchase; the amount of the sale will be sent to their bank; and then the banks will report the spending to the Ministry of Finance at the end of each month, according to the Greek Reporter. The cards, made available at Greek banks this week, are voluntary (for now).

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2011/10/06/greece-to-track-citizens-purchases-to-solve-tax-evasion-problem/

and here :

Insight: In Greece, playing cat and mouse with tax evaders.

(Reuters) - Nikos Lekkas' team of tax investigators knew they were on to something when they found that a humble Greek farmer on the island of Thasos owned a red Ferrari and a Porsche.

Intrigued by how a farmer who had declared just 100,000 euros in income over the past decade could afford such luxuries, Lekkas dispatched an undercover tax agent to the north Aegean island.

The agent was back soon -- not only was the Thasos "farmer" earning far more than he had disclosed to the state, he was in an entirely different line of business: loan sharking.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/15/us-greece-evasion-idUSTRE7BE0S020111215

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:30 AM

2. Neoliberal propaganda.

Greece's tax revenues were 40% of their GDP in 2010.

Compare that to our tax revenues, closer to 9% GDP.

Greeks are overtaxed.

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Response to girl gone mad (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:16 AM

5. At least get your figures vaguely right - 2009: Greece 30%, USA 24%

from one source that collates the figures so they are comparable:

http://www.oecd.org/document/18/0,3746,en_21571361_44315115_49102162_1_1_1_1,00.html

Increasing to 33% for Greece in 2010: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Tax_revenue_statistics

As you can see, Greece is lightly taxed, for Europe (which has a more developed social safety net than the USA).

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:35 PM

8. Greece benefits less from the social safety net..

than most European nations.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/24/the-myth-of-greek-profligacy/

In reality, the Greeks have one of the lowest per capita incomes in Europe (€21,100), much lower than the Eurozone 12 (€27,600) or the German level (€29,400). Further, the Greek social safety nets might seem very generous by US standards but are truly modest compared to the rest of the Europe. On average, for 1998-2007 Greece spent only €3530.47 per capita on social protection benefits–slightly less than Spain’s spending and about €700 more than Portugal’s, which has one of the lowest levels in all of the Eurozone. By contrast, Germany and France spent more than double the Greek level, while the original Eurozone 12 level averaged €6251.78. Even Ireland, which has one of the most neoliberal economies in the euro area, spent more on social protection than the supposedly profligate Greeks.

One would think that if the Greek welfare system was as generous and inefficient as it is usually described, then administrative costs would be higher than that of more disciplined governments such as the German and French. But this is obviously not the case, according to Eurostat. Even spending on pensions, which is the main target of the neoliberals, is lower than in other European countries.


I would love for austerians such as yourself to explain how it will ever be possible for Greece to recover from a severe economic collapse in the prviate sector by reducing the money available to the private sector by raising taxes and cutting spending. I think a fifth grader could understand how deeply flawed this logic is. Even Hoover wasn't quite that dumb. Those are the steps policy makers should take when an economy is overheating, not while the people are drowning financially.

Is the Democratic party still the party of Keynes and FDR, or are we in fact all Austrians now (as Ron Paul would say)?

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Response to girl gone mad (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:57 PM

9. You can't count, but you're calling me dumb?

Right, now I've got the tit-for-tat insult out of the way, I'll point out I'm not an 'austerian'. Keynes and FDR were not in favour of some of the rich evading the taxes they are legally meant to pay; your argument is a laughable strawman. I haven't said anything about raising Greek taxes more; just collecting the ones they're meant to get, by law.

Are you now calling yourself a Keynesian, by the way? I thought you regarded Keynesians (eg Krugman) as 'part of the problem' - MMT was your bag. Or are you just saying you're not a Democrat?

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:25 PM

10. I'm post-Keynesian.

We are no longer on a gold standard, as we were in Keynes's day, but Keynes was absolutely correct in understanding the relationship between public sector spending and private sector growth. I don't take issue with Krugman's Keynesian views.

This is not a strawman argument. At best, putting the focus on improved tax collection in Greece is a total distraction from the real issues. In fact, I'd say the tax evasion argument is the actual strawman which neoliberals have been busily building in hopes of avoiding any focus on the true problems they've created for Greece. Greece can not solve its crisis simply by collecting more taxes. It's hard to understand why people still don't get it after the last 2 years of total failure. We are wasting time pushing this doomed solution, while the peoples' suffering drags on and on.

"collecting the ones they're meant to get, by law" means increased enforcement, more draconian attempts to drain ever more money out of the Greek private sector to hand over to foreign banks. Again, do this after we've achieved some sort of meaningful recovery, not in the midst of a Greek depression.

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Response to girl gone mad (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:23 AM

6. Aside from the fact that such comparisons cannot be drawn between different nations

reducing their tax levels would reduce government receipts which amongst other things are used to pay their entire public sector.

Are you saying that the public sector should be reduced even further to match those reduced receipts ? I don't that would be very popular with the staff involved.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:25 PM

7. Greece must default.

There is no way out of their current death spiral, in my view.

The "amongst other things" you speak of includes paying off foreign creditors, which siphons off a huge (and rapidly increasing) portion of those revenues.

I also think Greece should exit the Euro and restore currency sovereignty if the ECB will not take the proper steps to bail them out.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:43 AM

3. They should all be exposed

across the globe
Rec

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:44 AM

4. This is bad economic thinking.

Greece was doomed from the day they entered into the Maastricht treaty. The severe structural deficiencies of the EMU left them unable to take the necessary steps to counteract financial deleveraging in the wake of global economic collapse.

One does not solve a problem which, at its core, amounts to a lack of money available within the Greek economy by taking more and more money out of the Greek economy through increased taxation and/or austerity. What you will extract, even from the wealthy, will never be enough to cover the debts.

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