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Audits of high income taxpayers have slowed in Greece in 2018

Audits of taxpayers with high incomes and assets have slowed in Greece over 2018, as have fines for violations discovered during such probes, according to the independent authority for public revenues.

The development, up until July 2018, is primarily due to the fact that thousands of cases involving alleged - and major - tax evasion have exceeded a statute of limitation, including for thousands of Greek citizens with major deposits abroad. Names of the latter were found on a handful of lists (i.e. the "Lagarde" list, the so-called "Panama Papers" etc.) provided to Greek governments since 2010.

A couple of landmark rulings by the Council of State (CoS) in 2017, followed by three interpretations of the decisions by the State Legal Council, stipulated a five-year period in which tax authorities can investigate and audit taxpayers, with this period possibly extended by three, five and even 10 years, but only under specific conditions that tax authorities must prove.

Previously, tax cases in Greece dragged on for decades, with repeated audits conducted under different governments, even years apart over the same case, and often with judicial decisions also taking many years to be adjudicated.  

According to official figures, audits in the first seven months of 2018 failed to exceed 40 percent of the number planned for all of the year. Accumulated fines imposed in such cases were even more disappointing, as only a meager 2.4 percent of the total budgeted by the independent authority for 2018 was confirmed over the Jan-Jul period.