Who Are the Worst Tax Dodgers in Greece?

Fascinating tidbit of the day: Tax evasion is so widespread and so culturally embedded in Greece that loan officers in banks have standard multipliers they use to convert reported income into real income. If you’re a doctor, for example, they assume your income is 2.45x what you report to the tax man. If you own a restaurant, they multiply by 1.99. If they didn’t do this, they’d never approve any loans at all because no one would have enough income to qualify.

It just goes to show how people manage to adapt to almost anything. But why the different multipliers for different industries? The Economist summarizes the paper that came up with the multipliers:

One hypothesis is that people in industries which generate a bigger “paper trail”—because they use more intermediate goods as inputs, for example—are at greater risk of being caught and therefore evade tax less. The authors do indeed find that industries that generate lots of traceable information have lower levels of evasion. But they also find another interesting correlation, between the professional backgrounds of Greek parliamentarians and the industries with high levels of tax evasion. Stripping out lawyers, who have a disproportionately nasty habit of becoming politicians, the three most tax-dodging professions account for about half the votes among Greek MPs. That, the authors say, might explain a lack of political willpower on the issue of tax evasion.

Apparently the retail industry in Greece desperately needs to elect more of its own to parliament. A multiplier of 1.27 is pathetic.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.