Government to name and shame tax dodgers

THE PORTUGUESE Inland Revenue is to publish a blacklist of tax dodgers on the internet next year. The list of names and companies could be as many as 800,000 according to the Ministry of Finances.

The Ministry says that the government loses three per cent each year of its GNP in non-payment of taxes, representing a huge three billion euros.

Worst offenders are small-time builders, plumbers, electricians, accountants, private doctors, football clubs, restaurant and café owners. The list will not include the names of those contesting tax claims currently through the courts nor will it include those owing paltry amounts.

It all comes as part of an overall get tough on tax payers package of policies, which has been pursued by the last two governments, both of which have been unable to balance the state books in recent years.

Under European Union Financial Stability Pact rules, member states must keep within the three-and-a-half per cent debt limit of total GNP or risk being fined. Portugal’s public debt is already spiralling out of control at nearly seven per cent of the GNP, while the government aims to fill the black hole in its finances by better housekeeping, reducing the number of public service employees, and tightening up on fiscal fraud and tax evasion.

The government says that publishing a list of names of non-payers is not illegal nor does it break constitutional privacy rights. “Citizens have a duty to pay their taxes on what they earn and the State has every right to claw back what it is owed,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Finances.

However, despite the tough measures, 49.1 per cent of the population think that the country’s finances will get worse in 2006, according to a survey. Some 21.6 per cent thought the situation would improve, while 19.6 believed it would stay the same; 9.7 per cent had no view.

The economic crisis currently gripping Portugal is set to have a disastrous effect on retail this Christmas as the population tightens its belt. According to a survey carried out by Deloitte recently, the Portuguese are not planning on splashing out this Christmas. The survey data revealed that the Portuguese plan to spend a lot less this Christmas, while maintaining the tradition to spend a considerable amount on children.