Tourists to Greece to act as 'tax spies', government suggests

Tourists to Greece to act as 'tax spies', government suggests

Tourists could be asked to help uncover tax dodging businesses in Greek holiday resorts as part of government efforts to recover the country’s debt-ridden finances, according to reports.

Holidaymakers could be recruited alongside students and housewives to form an army of so-called ‘onlookers’ carrying hidden cameras and recorders to catch tax dodgers.

The plan emerged in a leaked letter sent by Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to the President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem, which outlines a range of reforms for the Greek economy, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The inspectors, who would operate across the country with tourists most suitable for spying on resort areas, would not be able to confront tax dodgers or have any authority to carry out checks but the evidence they collected could be used in prosecutions.

The inspectors would be hired for a maximum of two months and would not be re-hired.

Varoufakis, finance minister of the new left-wing Syriza government in Greece, claims the move would create a new climate in the country.

He is quoted as saying that the very news that there were thousands of casual onlookers carrying spying equipment on behalf of the tax authorities could shift attitudes quickly.

The amateur inspectors would be able to go to places traditional tax inspectors would be wary of visiting such as nightclubs and medical facilities, he added.

The tax spy proposal is one of seven proposed reforms, which are due to be considered by Eurozone finance ministers today (Monday).

Other measures include taxing gambling, improving existing budget and tax collecting systems and creating a Fiscal Council which would act as an independent overseer of state spending.

Eurozone leaders want to extend help on Greece's €240 billion bailout until the end of June in return for commitments to further reform.

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