Back To Surreality - Greek Tax Collectors Told They Need To Be 200% More Efficient

Tyler Durden's picture

Let's put things back into perspective. Europe is lending money to Greece, which according to latest rumors will at least for the time being be in the form of the dreaded Escrow Account, which in turn means that the only recipients of bailout cash will be Greek creditors, whose claims will be senior to that of the government. In other words, it will be up to Greece, and specifically its own tax "collectors" to provide the actual funding needed to run the country as bailout or not bailout, Greek mandatory (forget discretionary) expenditures will not see one penny from Europe. As a reminder, the country is already €1 billion behind schedule in revenue collections which are down 7% Y/Y compared to an expectation of 9% rise. As a further reminder, the one defining characteristic of Greek tax collectors is that they are prone to striking. Virtually all the time. And that is assuming they even have the ink to print the required tax forms. Which last year they did not. So under what realistic assumptions are Greek tax collectors laboring in the current tax year? Why, nothing short of them having to be not 100%, but 200% more efficient. From Kathimerini: "Greece’s tax collectors were told over the weekend that they would have to do a much better job this year at gathering overdue taxes. How much better? Almost 200 percent." And this, unfortunately, is where the Greek bailout comes to a screeching halt, because while it is no secret that Greek "bailouts" do nothing for the country, but merely enforce ever more stringent austerity to mask the fact that all the cash is simply going from one banker pocket to another, it is the pandemic corruption embedded in generations of behavior that is at the root of all Greek evil. And there is no eradicating that. Now tomorrow, and not by 2020. 

From the Greek daily:

According to Skai TV, some 700 million euros was collected in 2011 by chasing down taxpayers that had run up debts. This year, inspectors will have to collect 2 billion euros as Greece tries to meet even tougher fiscal targets amid a deepening recession.


Preliminary figures showed that tax revenues were already 1 billion euros short of the government’s target in January alone, with VAT receipts showing a considerable drop. As consumption decreases, so do revenues, which makes it even more vital that any existing debts are settled.


However, to do that, Greece needs the appropriate personnel and know-how. Although progress is being made both in terms of the information technology being used by the tax service and the assessment of staff, there is still considerable ground to be covered.


It’s more than just a question of installing new software and retraining staff. It’s an issue of shedding the mentality and practices of the past and replacing them with something new. This is something more complicated and time-consuming.

Presenting- the weakest Greek link.

The backwardness of Greece’s public administration, it’s ability to trip itself up either by mistake or on purpose, is one of the factors that the Europeans and the International Monetary Fund grossly underestimated over the last couple of years.


This self-destructive tendency was in evidence on Saturday when tax collectors belonging to one union protested outside Greece’s National School of Public Administration as exams took place inside with the aim of assembling a crack squad of 1,000 tax inspectors that would tackle tax arrears and evasion more effectively. The protestors felt that members of the other tax collectors’ union were being favored. Cynics might say that a tax collection A-team wouldn’t suit some of their colleagues who have a nice sideline in pocketing bribes in return for turning a blind eye. Upsetting this clandestine business would hit their incomes hard.


Either way, the outcome of the protest, which prompted the intervention of the police, was that only a few dozen inspectors took the test. When compared with the news from Italy over the weekend that more than 70 tax inspectors were sent to Courmayeur ski resort to check if receipts are being issued, one can see what a huge distance Greece has to cover.

If you want to fix something fatally broken, you need a grand reset first. It goes for modern Keynesian economics just as it goes for Greek tax collection methods. Alas, it won't happen anywhere, instead the system will trundle along until everything just finally breaks.

Some would suggest that the only way forward is for the whole department to be stripped down and rebuilt. If the short-term hole in revenues that this would create weren’t a problem, perhaps it would be worth contemplating. But there’s another reason that this approach isn’t feasible. As part of the new loan agreement, Greece has committed to letting 150,000 civil servants go by 2015. It has also promised to only hire 1 public sector employee for every five that leave.


This means that overhauling any department is out of the question because new hires cannot be made in significant numbers. Any change has to be a gradual process of evolution. With its lenders bearing on Greece, this unsatisfying compromise is hardly going to be enough to produce the results everyone wants.

Why quite the contrary - the "results everyone wants" at this point is for the Greeks to continue rioting now and then, in the process looting and destroying their own country, even as the now terminally insolvent Eurozone proceeds to incorporate Escrow accounts at all peripheral countries which subordinate national interests to creditor claims. As such, the longer Greece does nothing to fix itself, the better for all the financial interests involved as its entire asset base is bled dry and there is nothing left.

As for Greece: if its 11 million people have taken it all in stride so far it is quite obvious that the slave mentality has now penetrated so deep, there is no possible way it will change ever. Unfortunately, Iceland is and will continue to be for a long time the only example where a nation's people dare to overthrow their debt overlords, take on banker interests head on, and win.

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ebworthen's picture

Why pay taxes when your leaders are corrupt to the bone?

Overthrow the debt overlords!

CH1's picture

Ah, but they've obeyed them so willingly, so mindlessly, so many times.....  To disobey now would be to condemn their earlier selves!

Maybe when the pain becomes enough.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

I believe it is also important to take stock of the "efficiencies" of the IRS as it sits now.  I have a friend that just took on a job at the IRS taking up payment plans from voluntary tax payers.  Their software system is a MS DOS system, none of the systems are intertwined, and well over ten screens and databases have to be shuffled through for each and every caller.  The people that work around him are barely literate, let alone able to operate through the maze that is their database.  10 weeks of training in a class, with one week sitting next to someone who is actually working.  As soon as his training is complete there will be a furlough, with him in it. He will collect unemployment during that furlough, similiar to the in and out furloughs for ALL of the other employees. 

The idea of uber competent government fades in my mind with each first-hand account of these morons.

CH1's picture

Thanks, Doc! Always good to have real info from the trenches.

falak pema's picture

The Romans had a good idea at the battle of Alesia; they built a double barricade to keep the besieged, as the besiegers of the besiegers, out. They lived in between in these trenched passages and waited for the besieged to raise the white flag, from hunger and lack of water. All the while repulsing the attacking allied armies from outside. As their cavalry was disciplined, they routed the outer army first. Then camped and waited for the besieged in fortress to surrender. 

As a desperate measure Vercingetorix the Arverne tribe leader of defenders told his women and children to leave the fortress and ask for mercy and food from the Romans.

SO, before the final collapse and surrender of Alesia, the Romans in the trenches had the agreable visit of the wenches, then the pleasure of receiving surrender and plunder from their husbands.

Some people never lose! Until they lose big time!

Azannoth's picture

In times of government tyranny the last thing you want is the government to be efficient

Dr. Richard Head's picture

No problem. I was not as shocked as I thought I would have been once I received some confirmation that the inept government is inept either by design or the fact that EVERYTHING in governtment is dealt with through committee and no one wants accountability for their actions.  The goal of the Federal Employee is not to be on the radar of the boss and not much more. 

Dr. Richard Head's picture

No problem. I was not as shocked as I thought I would have been once I received some confirmation that the inept government is inept either by design or the fact that EVERYTHING in governtment is dealt with through committee and no one wants accountability for their actions.  The goal of the Federal Employee is not to be on the radar of the boss and not much more. 

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Crowd control is a lot less difficult with 11mil as opposed to 300k. Iceland won because people got really interested at the right time and the referendums were quick and effective.

Azannoth's picture

In a nation of 300k everybody knows everybody directly or indirectly, so the police could not hammer the protesters and get away with it.

That's another reason for multiculturalism, the more divided the people the less resistance they can muster and the easier is to turn 1 side against the other, ever wondered why the most of TSA employees belong to some kind of minority?

Global Hunter's picture

that is a fantastic point.  If a person is not connected to their community they're more likely to follow some sort of man made system or model that abuses other people too IMO.  Gave me something to think about with your post.

falak pema's picture

Nero burnt Rome and blamed the poor christian community; so the Romans crucified the christians; an essentially non roman, greek and semitic minority then. 

Power when gone corrupt always plays divide to rule, even if it means killing mother.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Funny you mention Nero, someone posted here a couple days ago, that even under his rule interest rates never went below 4%. Not sure if that is true but if it is, then we're not looking back.

falak pema's picture

You don't have to 'cos your future will do it for you. Nobody can force people to look back. Except life itself. Even then, if they suffer from amnesia or worse, its no help. 

I don't think interest rates will rise in Zirp Land. But inflation will. Under the carpet of regulatory capture. 

Azannoth's picture

Many historians dispute that Nero burned Rome, some even suggest that Christians where actually responsible(or maybe the fire was just random), nonetheless credible historical sources say Nero did not fiddle but did everything he could to help

falak pema's picture

Minorities love being crucified, its standard practice in any empire; the natives get restless at seeing the immigrants getting uppity. So the immigrants oblige; anything to make the empire feel one and true simper fidelis family! Even to burn at the stake! Truly magnificent such selfless sense of duty to empire, in the hope that one day their own impure sons could finally sing :

"I have a dream..."/ Awesome legacy of Empire. 

j0nx's picture

I've been saying this shit for years. Wait till the SHTF in the urban areas with all this beloved liberal multi-culturalism. There will be no societal unity and nobody will trust anybody because they will all think their way is the right way. Don't say you weren't warned. I live in an illegal alien infested city right outside DC that is about 80% minority from some country or other and I have no second thoughts at all as to how things will be here when SHTF but I'm ready for it and have a plan to 'escape from new york' as it is when the time comes. Multi-culturalism WILL be the death of this country after political correctness gave it cancer.

falak pema's picture

Ofcourse; 200% of zero! = ????

Is this greek pi squared math or greek tarama salad dressing?? 

You first have to HANG all those Greek Oligarchs, then infuse new blood in National assembly, then rewrite the laws, then re-activate the administrative procedures to enact those laws, then control the banking structure to collect all those receipts before they vanish into thin air; then, only then, can you enter into the halo of Euroland.

Now, before all this happens in Grechen land, how many light years must pass by?

I think you get the picture. Default, reinvent greek state; or become a Euroland dominion with a Governor general wearing the colonial hat or Bismarck helmet of pukka sahib. 

j0nx's picture

They could just seize Soros' accounts for fraud and call it a day.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Yeah, I haven't figured that one out yet.  How can it be possible that people get away with not supporting the system that made them rich? 

BliptoP3's picture

200% efficiency!, I'm pretty sure the max is 110%.


and since when did my highschool football coach start running Greece?

Matt's picture

It isn't 200 percent efficiency, it is a 200 percent increase in efficiency. For example, if they are currently 10 percent efficient, they need to triple that ( 200 percent increase) to get to 30 percent efficient.

nmewn's picture

The cost of bribery is going up 200%?

This may be more than the market can bear!

francis_sawyer's picture

I have an idea...

Let's just have a system where the banks are allowed to print an unlimited amount of money to ONLY be used for themselves (& so they can systematically use it to singlehandedly corner the market on & stockpile every useful commodity in the world)...

Oh wait, we're already doing that...

nmewn's picture

Kinda like stock options in lieu of wages, excellent idea ;-)

Troy Ounce's picture


Well, tax collectors are one side of the story.


Who asked the population of Greece for their cooperation? Nobody.

Suppose you were Greek and had to pay taxes to Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. What would you do?

Big fat middlefinger of course. Expect tax collections to drop to zero.



krispkritter's picture

...that's like trying to get blood from a stone... I think was the saying. I expect that tax collectors/collection offices are going to get stoned and be running with blood. Amazing, all the spew from the politicians on how they're working so hard to fix this crap and they always come back to 'Hey, screw the peasants!'. I expect to see shades of that in the US before long.  The IRS is armed to the teeth and willing to kick down your door for a dollar.

Meanwhile back in the US, small business owners are adapting to the recession with new marketing ideas: Big Tits! Eat Free!

mayhem_korner's picture



"These are all dead, Sir."

"Well...keep checkin' 'em!"


(Titanic, 1997)

MachoMan's picture

it's blood from a turnip and water from a stone...

CarlMengerJr's picture

"the pandemic corruption embedded in generations of behavior that is at the root of all Greek evil."


Excuse me, but if 'corruption' means finding more creative ways of avoiding giving money to the responsible and wonderful band of kleptocrats that are raping and pillaging their country, then surely corruption is the root of the solution, not the root of all evil.

Global Hunter's picture

these people see anything that isn't mindless conformity and servitude as evil.  That is why politicians are often also sexual deviants, all of that suppression and repression needs to be expressed.

margaris's picture

Well said.... it always was the big fat greek government party.... and not the people partying...

Ask the 600 Euro generation...

PS: A greek documentary: Debtocracy (subtitles available)

Rentenmark's picture

Unfortunately, Iceland is and will continue to be for a long time the only example where a nation's people dare to overthrow their debt overlords, take on banker interests head on, and win.

Has Iceland been labeled a "rouge nation" or placed on the terror list yet?
i-dog's picture

More bleu than rouge ... something to do with the cold.

Pretorian's picture

Wait until you see FRENCH rioting!!! Thats 20 Century Fox Entertainment match!

Global Hunter's picture

Greek tax collectors have almost human being like qualities unlike their North American thuggish counterparts.

On a more serious note, typical politicians response to a problem, have an exam that one must pass to be a tax collector.  Rather than get some bodies out in the real world working they hold exams.  Politicians are the biggest drain on any society! 

"one union protested outside Greece’s National School of Public Administration as exams took place inside with the aim of assembling a crack squad of 1,000 tax inspectors that would tackle tax arrears and evasion more effectively."


Cursive's picture

$700M to $2B?  That's more like 300% to me.  I wonder if construction on the Tower of Babel was this messed up.

LowProfile's picture

And that EUR700MM was garnered from way overdue accounts - low hanging fruit.  Those that didn't pay up in the first round will either have hidden & spent more of what they had...  I bet tax receipts are LOWER next time around.

No mention of this in the latest AP report (check if you want ), naturally.

Looks like they are going to ignore reality until it's effects will have maximum impact.


Matt's picture

2 billion IS almost 300 percent of 700 million; that is why it is an INCREASE of 200 percent ( 1.3 Billion increase on 700 million).

Sudden Debt's picture



O =  Olive industry....


ziggy59's picture

seems the tax collectors will get pitch forked 2x faster now..

LawsofPhysics's picture

The greek people and few remaining taxpayers are now being forced (via the escrow account) to pay the bankers (creditors).  Coming soon to every western economy.  What was that saying about the tree of liberty again?  If you are in greece, it has long been time to get physical and get out of dodge or get off your ass, get organized and start putting some tax collector and banker heads on pikes.  Freedom can be a messy business, such is the natural world.

Matt's picture

They wouldn't need to pay the creditors, if they didn't need to borrow money anymore. The problem is, that they want to continue to be able to spend more than they pay for. Thus, to continue doing what they want, they continue to need creditors to keep lending them more money.

AU5K's picture

So they have to work 16 hours a week instead of 8.  big deal.

Catullus's picture

Try 24 hours a week.  That would be a 200% increase.

francis_sawyer's picture

So 200% means they "strike" for 24 hours a week instead of 8?

Martin W's picture

No, 200% means only 4h strike and 4h coffee drinking