Greece has published a so-called “name and shame” list of tax evaders who allegedly owe the state some 14-billion euros.
Well-known businessmen and celebrities are among more than 4,000 people the government claims have not paid their dues.
The largest single debt of 952 million euros is by a tax fraudster already serving life in prison for issuing fake receipts to companies. The first 15 on the list each owe sums of more than 100 million euros.
The first campaign to create a tax conscience began in 2009 with the government promoting tax breaks if people asked for receipts from goods and services, as Greeks never asked for receipts. But operations to catch tax cheats were bogged down by a laborious and tangled bureaucratic system.
The International Monetary Fund and European Commission are currently assisting Greek authorities to create a more successful system to tackle the issue.
According to the European Commission Task Force assisting Greece, the country has 60 billion euros in unpaid taxes, a figure equivalent to around 25 percent of Greek GDP. Greek tax authorities say the number is more at 35 billion euros.
But recovering the money will not be easy. Almost half of Greece’s 11-million population declared annual incomes of less than 12,000 euros.