A rapid increase in elderly people in Greece owing exorbitant debts to the state has been identified, and it is no coincidence, for the latest tax-dodging trick is to file under the code “Businessman, Age 95”.
The trick is to set up shell companies appearing to be run by retired people, even 95 year-olds, in order to write off tax debts. This specific way of avoiding taxes and contributions is not new but it has become a scourge as the Centre for the Collection of Social Security Arrears (KEAO) is unable to chase the very old debtors.
This scam is set up with different variation and KEAO is unable to intervene. The most common ways are:
- A firm with debts interrupts its activity or changes legal form and chooses elder people with no assets as shareholders-managers. The new firm with a new VAT Registration Number and a new record but continues to operate just as before and often using the same personnel. The firm’s debt cannot be collected because the firm which created the debt no longer exists on paper.
- Shell companies are set up having as their shareholders other companies with debts. In this case, the administrator is once more someone who cannot be prosecuted.
KEAO has identified many cases where these tactics are applied. For example, a 85 year-old retiree, who was a CEO at a newly established company that was operating in another form and owes IKA about 30 million euros from its activities since 2010. Today, no one can collect this debt. In another case, an elderly female, born in 1919, appeared as a bar owner while the company levanted debts of 15 million euros by changing its legal form. Indeed, the same lady undertakes maintenance and cleaning services in offices.