Authorities are a step before busting one of the biggest fraud networks involving VAT ever caught in Cyprus, taxation commissioner Yiannis Tsangaris told the House Watchdog Committee on Thursday.
He said that the way the VAT system operates makes it easy for someone to become a millionaire and urged a speedy amendment to the law to ensure better checks.
Cyprus was one of the few states which has not changed the relevant law because it did not believe that “it would be preferred by crooks.”
At the moment, tax authorities are poised to bust a big VAT fraud ring dealing with transactions within the European Union, he added.
Tsangaris said that tax personnel were overstretched in their fight against tax evasion. He added that the tax department also had huge obligations vis-a-vis the OECD which are urgent because they affect Cyprus’ reputation. Cyprus is being monitored constantly and if it does not respond to the requirements then it will be presented as not being responsive to issues of transparency,
Cyprus was battling to exit the black list it was added to in 2014 and as a result cannot exchange information with other countries outside the EU, he said.
As regards tax evasion, he said that there are currently 3500 cases at the department which it cannot handle and has therefore prioritised. There are only five employees to check all of Nicosia, while the current legislation is not helpful, he added.