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Thursday, October 27, 2005 

When the Tax Office Calls

Spotting fake invoices is a Herculean task in Greece.

For years now, companies in Greece have been issuing fake invoices in order to dodge taxes. In the first half of last year, Kathimerini reported that, while retail sales increased by 8.5%, the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) only rose by 0.2%.

The government decided that it was high time to do something to combat the tax evasion and decided to criminalize the issuing of bogus invoices. Today, I found out that the tax bureau is actually taking this legislation to heart since I got a call from them today.

She questioned me about our business which is home entertainment. Then she asked me why I was receiving invoices from a supplier who sells electronics. She even tried to read one of the invoices out loud to me over the telephone..."it says here you've bought something called "Yaoumahu". For those of you who haven't figured it out yet...the word was "Yamaha". It took me a second too to understand her pronunciation as well but I'm rather adept at strange accents in English now anyway. I explained to her that it was globally recognized brand name as were the others on her list... Jama, JVC, Sony and Toshiba. The sudden surge of activity in previously unused sectors of her brain sent her into a tailspin since it took her a minute before she asked me why a store who sells videos would sell something called a DVD player.

I realized I was not speaking with the brightest of God's creatures. If she didn't know what Yamaha was, how on earth was I going to explain the evolution of VHS to DVD and that you can't play a DVD in a video recorder. So I didn't. I couldn't very well climb the slippery slope of informing civil servants about technological innovations since one of us would no doubt have to be institutionalized at the end. I was not about to let it be me. I took her name and phone number so I could let our accountant deal with her on Monday.

Who knows? Maybe by then the tax office may miraculously grasp the fact that the brand name Yamaha doesn't manufacture only motorbikes. Uh oh. Maybe they don't even know that. I pity the poor business owner who sells microchips for a living. Having to explain that they don't have a food licence because you can't eat microchips may just make them voluntarily close their business before the health inspector comes knocking.

See, I could make an obnoxious comment about Greek civil servants but then I remembered how little American civil servants know about the same things.

I mean, if someone started asking me questions or talking to me about things involving knitting, I would be dumbstruck.

Still, I guess they are just hoping to squeeze some extra moolah off your business. I hope they don't. =p

They'll find some way, I'm sure of it. We've categorized our business as home entertainment and if Eftihia (that's what I call her...it's not her real name) finds out that the PlayStation Portable can be used outside the home, we're goners. LOL

Ha Ha

there must be a universal Tax Inspector's gene, because ours in the UK are just as dumb stupid and bloody minded

Nice blog Witchy

scuzz

I would just have defered her to your tax account immediately and told her that you don't discuss personal issues over the telephone.

My God that would have really put her into overdrive huh.

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