International News • Greeks Hide Tens of Billions From Tax Man
Greeks Hide Tens of Billions From Tax Man
By Justin Lahart
Originally posted in Overheard.
If Greece’s government was as adept as its banks at figuring out what its citizens earn, the world might be a very different place.
That Greeks have a penchant for evading taxes isn’t exactly news — when tax collectors started comparing swimming-pool ownership with incomes, wealthy Greeks camouflaged their pools. And because hidden income is hidden, figuring the size of the tax dodge is difficult.
Armed with data from one of Greece’s ten largest banks, economists Nikolaos Artavanis, Adair Morse and Margarita Tsoutsoura recently set themselves to the task. The banks, with tens of thousands of customers across the country, provided loan and credit-card application and performance data. That not only gave the economists access to self-reported incomes, but also allowed them to infer the banks’ estimates of true incomes — which are likely closer to the mark.
The economists’ conservatively estimate that in 2009 some €28 billion in income went unreported. Taxed at 40%, that equates to €11.2 billion — nearly a third of Greece’s budget deficit.
Why hasn’t Greece done more to stop tax evasion? The economists were also able to identify the top tax-evading occupations — doctors and engineers ranked highest — and found they were heavily represented in Parliament.
Depicted is the zip code-plotting of tax evasion. The authors of the study pool all individuals in a zip code covered in all samples (over all the years covered by each sample) and plot the average zip code percent of estimate true income evaded. Darker colors denote more tax evasion. The circled area (specifically, the dark area in the middle of the circle) is Larissa, an area targeted by news reports that has the largest number of Porsche Cayennes in Europe.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:44 am
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