ATHENS – Greece’s ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party, which promised to go after tax cheats, has let them escape just as they have under all previous governments.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said tax evaders would be among their top priorities when they took office after the Jan. 25 elections but results show they’ve done little to nothing about the problem even though Greece is going broke and desperate for every euro.
Finance Ministry figures show the budget shortfall is increasing and tax revenues falling as the government is locked in stalled talks with international lenders.
Revenues by end-May lagged by 650 million euros ($729.2 million) as the government has yet to produce a program to go after tax cheats who owe more than 70 billion euros ($78.52 billion).
Despite some well-publicized arrests, not a single major tax evader has been prosecuted and a probe into Greeks with secret Swiss bank accounts said to be riddled with tax dodgers also hasn’t led to any arrests.
That comes as Greece has for months stopped paying its bills and been able to cover, and barely that, pensions and salaries, while also holding back subsidies for health care, pharmacies and withholding tax refunds.
Although it has been almost five months since the change in government and state coffers are all but empty, the SYRIZA-led government has not taken a single measure to date in order to combat tax evasion, Kathimerini said.
Instead, in a contradiction, the government said undeclared incomes could be voluntarily revealed to the authorities without incurring any fines, penalties or judicial consequences, although tax cheats so far prefer to reveal nothing.