People Are Turning Down Jobs as Tax Collectors in Greece

(Bloomberg) -- Greece has come a long way from its pre-crisis reputation as a tax evaders’ paradise, but it’s now got a problem collecting taxmen.

The Independent Authority for Public Revenue saw staffing levels drop in 2018, leaving them more than 4 percent below a target of 12,000, according to a European Commission report on Wednesday.

The problem is partly due to successful applicants turning down job offers, which may be because of pay demands. The EU report cites remuneration and grading tailored for the IAPR as “essential to attract highly-qualified staff.”

“The reasons for the shortfall include delays in ongoing recruitment of tax/customs officials and higher than expected exits (mainly through retirements), but also due to a relatively high rejection rate of offers extended by IAPR to successful candidates.”

If the agency doesn’t speed up hiring, the miss could increase this year when the staffing target increases to 12,500. Greece is already lagging behind on a number of reform goals it needs to qualify for debt relief.

Despite being understaffed, the authority still met nine of its 11 key performance metrics last year, an increase from four in 2017, including a large step up in the collection of assessed tax and penalties of high wealth individuals after audits.

That helps explain why Greece probably beat its primary budget target for a fourth year running in 2018.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.