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Greek E-File Tax System Goes CRASH!

crashIn a comedy of errors that is classically Greek, an electronic system designed to handle all Greek tax returns, some 1.2 million – which got started more than three months late – is riddled with so many problems that it crashed again on July 22, the first deadline for filing, forcing the Finance Ministry to set a new timetable of July 26 for completing the documents – although the system might not be ready until the middle of August.
This year for the first time Greece has mandated all tax returns must be sent via the Internet although the country has one of the lowest usages in the European Union and until now most bureaucratic offices have filed paper returns on the floor, counters, boxes, trash cans and supermarket carts. Even people who don’t have a computer or access to one, or who live in remote villages or islands are being required to file by Internet.
The problem is that the system, called TAXISNET, can’t handle the volume of returns. Greeks have staggered dates to file depending on their last digit of their tax codes but only a couple of hours before the first deadline ended on July 22 the Finance Ministry had to push it back, admitting they system it assured would operate correctly wasn’t operating at all. There was no information on who designed the system.
There were also additional problems reported yesterday as far as banks’ declarations of taxpayers’ interest revenues are concerned as more difficulties and delays in the submission of revenue documents to pensioners.
Accountants, tax experts and taxpayers across the country are demanding an extension of the deadline for all taxpayers to the end of August, if not later, screaming that the system isn’t working.
The ministry’s intention is also to have all taxpayers submit their declarations by August 30, but no such announcement has been made as yet in this direction. Sources say that the Taxisnet system will be up and running after August 10 or 15, which means that declarations will until then be submitted depending on the last digit of each tax code.
“Yet again we are the hostages of the rushed nature of the decision to make it compulsory for the first time this year for tax declarations to be submitted online,” said Konstantinos Kollias, the Vice President of the Economic Chamber of Greece.
Kollias reserved particular criticism for the Finance Ministry’s general secretary for revenues Haris Theocharis, previously the General Secretary for Information Systems (GSIS.)  “Mr.  Theocharis was the one who – when head of GSIS – assured us the system was ready to accept millions of declarations,” said Kollias. “Mr. Theocharis was the one assuring us a week ago that there were no problems with TAXISNET.”
The main reason why the ministry will not open its electronic portal for everyone at the same time is simply collection-oriented as it attempts to cash in as many revenues as possible from taxpayers’ income tax to cover the revenues shortfall that in the first half of the year amounted to 1.6 billion euros ($2.1  billion).
The ministry’s electronic portal opened at least three months late, on May 24, while the boxes on the interest revenues of taxpayers were only filled by banks last on July 17, which was five days before the first deadline, for tax codes ending in 1 and 2.

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