Greece and tax sadist tourism
By Alberto Mingardi
The arm wrestling over Greece may be more serious than it originally appeared to many. The Greek government has submitted a draft list of reforms to unlock new financial aid. So far, the other European partners appear to be unimpressed (see this excellent piece by Andrew Lilico).
One reform proposal is however worth taking about.
The Greek government apparently announced that it wants to hire part timers as “undercover agents to grab out tax evaders”. Tourists, students and housewives could work armed with wireless devices to catch shopkeepers and service providers who do not issue receipts when they sell goods and services.
It is, in its way, a very innovative proposal. The for profit sectors, as well as non profits, have long been using internships, which are a good way to educate and test potential new workers. The Greek government seems to resort to interns, not so much for raising younger and better tax officials, but as it finds the “real” ones rather unreliable. There’s a long tradition of outsourcing tax collection, to make it more efficient, lest it falls prey of corrupt public officials. Instead of relying on profit seeking firms, the Syriza government is looking to a sort of new approach to outsourcing, that will call for the collaboration of public spirited individuals.
The application of the concept to tourists potentially opens up a new whole kind of business: sadistic tourism. Syriza regularly portrays Germans as evil people that want to make the poor Greek suffer: why not turning that into a profitable line of activity for the government? Come to Greece. Ouzo, great sea, beautiful landscapes, moussaka, and you’ll have the pleasure to force dirty little shopkeepers to pay their dues to the government!