After various efforts and pledges over the years, the much-touted receipts lottery was implemented for the first time yesterday, handing out a 1,000 euro present to 1,000 taxpayers, as a reward for the use of plastic money.
This is obviously an incentive, which however does not suffice to combat tax evasion, which continues to be a scourge.
Thanks to capital controls, the use of plastic money increased substantially, contributing until now two billion euros to the public coffers from VAT taxes, according to the finance ministry.
Such little gifts, however, are not enough to confront the bane of tax evasion, especially in many categories of professionals.
As long as VAT tax rates remain high, and as long as income is linked to contributions, there will be a serious incentive for professionals and consumers to avoid the issuance of receipts.
It is obvious that if one were to choose between an immediate discount of 20 or 30 percent and the slim chances of winning a receipts lottery, one would prefer the hefty discount.
Without a gradual reduction of tax rates, the incentive for evading taxes will remain strong, depriving the state of revenues.
The cultivation of tax consciousness is directly related to citizens’ trust in the state. It is linked to the sense that the money that they pay will be directly reflected in the services they enjoy.
In crisis-era Greece, however, the exact opposite is occurring. Citizens are overburdened by direct and indirect taxation, while state services are going from bad to worse.
In healthcare, education, and public infrastructure, the situation for citizens is palpably worse than what they expected and, what is worse, what they need.
Any momentum provided by tax receipt lotteries will quickly be exhausted if our tax system remains unjust and ineffective.
At a time when the tax bureau conducts 2,000 bank deposit seizures a day, a consolation prize for 1,000 taxpayers every month will not change the situation.