The Global Post is reporting that Greece is about to start publicizing the names of its wealthy elite who flaunt tax laws, estimating some third or $20 billion in taxes go unpaid every year in Greece. This inability to fully collect its revenues has been blamed for much of Greece’s budgetary shortfalls and, it’s speculated, if Greece could implement an effective tax collection scheme it could probably avoid a lot of the chaos associated with its economy currently. Because of working class outrage over this situation, the government of Greece has initiated a public shaming campaign that focused first on businesses but now focuses on individual tax cheaters. The list of some 6000 businesses, most of whom had gone bankrupt, amounted to some $40 billion in owed back taxes while the list of individuals has many Greeks worried about social reputations being ruined. Greece’s economic problems are many, and its tax system has long been a joke by many international standards, especially for a developed nation. A shadow economy of transactions without receipts, corruption in the tax collection process and a cultural acceptance of tax fraud has lead to the current crisis that afflicts the nation. A great New York Times article by Suzanne Daley in May of 2010 discusses how Greek wealth could be found everywhere but on a tax form. The article cites a study from the Federation of Greek Industries that pegs the amount lost yearly to tax cheats at $30 billion dollars, a significant amount given that Greece faces some $400 billion in sovereign debt. Another practice detailed is that of ‘fakelaki’ or ‘little envelope,’ which is the practice of giving a doctor a side cash payment in exchange for better care or a government bureaucrat the same in exchange for an emissions sticker or other legal document. I don’t find any of Greece’s current problems shocking, especially when you consider the debacle that was the Olympics in Athens. Weeks before the Olympics were to begin, 24 0f the 39 venues had yet to be completed. This is not the most organized state in the E.U. to say the least. It is amazing that this is the country that is bringing the Euro and the very European Union to the brink but that’s not to leave out their friends in Italy and Spain, who are doing their best to undermine the project as well through profligate economic mismanagement. It is no wonder that Finland asked Greece for a little bit of collateral.

[Global Post]