Germany Wants To Help Greece Collect Taxes

By: EW News Desk Team   Date: 27 February 2012

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27 February 2012

The German Finance Ministry has offered to send an envoy of its tax collectors to Greece in order to educate the Greeks on more efficient tax collection methods as well as to modernise the Greek tax administrative system.

According to German publication Wirtschaftswoche, more than 160 tax officials from all across Germany have volunteered to embark on a tax mission to Greece, with the vast majority of them having English language skills while a dozen or so could speak Greek.

The German magazine also spoke to two state finance ministers from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Hesse, who suggested that retired German tax collectors, who helped the former-East Germany with their tax system back in 1990, could also assist in the Greek tax assignment.

"Greece's problems today are even worse than the problems faced with former East Germany in 1990," said NRW finance minister Norbert Walter-Borjans.

"When it comes to helping Greece we should also think about the possibility of re-calling retired German tax collectors who had experience helping (east Germany)," added Hesse's finance minister Thomas Schaefer, as quoted by Reuters.

Still, any German help is likely to be met with fierce resistance and suspicion from the Greeks, particularly after a leaked German report last month revealed how the German government had wanted to impose a “budget commissioner” on Greece – whose powers included the ability to supersede the government on all tax and spending decisions.

Related: Greece Denounces Leaked German Budget Control Plan As “Product Of A Sick Imagination”

Related: Germany Will Make An Example Of Greece: George Friedman

Related: Forget Finance, Europe’s Next Crisis Will Be Political In Nature: George Friedman

In a poll cited by the Greek Reporter, 41 percent of Greeks felt “anger, indignation or fury” when asked to identify their main feelings on Germany, while another 30 percent ranged from “disappointment and fear to revulsion.” Another 32 percent of Greeks associated Berlin’s policies with the country’s Nazi past, with some even referring to the German action as a form of “financial invasion.”

"Whoever hands people a dilemma between financial aid and national dignity is ignoring basic historical teaching," added Greece’s Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, in a clear reference to Germany, last month.

Related: Greece Publishes List of Worst Tax Evaders in The Country

Related: Tax Evasion in Greece Seems a Popular Sport

Nonetheless, the Greeks do face a massive tax evasion problem, with 63 billion euros ($84.7 billion) in unpaid taxes still to be collected. This Wednesday, Greece’s parliament must approve several ”prior actions” relating to an overhaul of the tax administration, including 300 audits of large taxpayers, before funds from a new bail-out package can be disbursed.

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