IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME

I am going to change my name to Leonidas Haymanopolis and move to Greece.

I would like to get away from the austerity measures that have been imposed in every other European Union country and which the Greeks have decided doesn’t apply to them.

I would like to borrow money from those around me to support my living standards and never have to pay it back.

I wish to pay minimal taxes to my government for running the country and paying my salary and retirement benefits. I will do this by making sure that most of my transactions are in cash, even if I am in a professional role, and by only declaring about a quarter of my real income as a way of minimising my tax bill.

I want to be able to take 41 days paid leave per year (annual leave plus public holidays).

And… I want to be paid for 13 months of work even though there are only 12 months in my year.

After all, apart for kites, fireworks, eyeglasses and yo-yo’s Greece gave the world democracy and Greeks have overwhelmingly democratically voted to tell the rest of the world to bugger off.
“Thanks for the loans, but we have spent them all on ouzo, luxury boats and sandals, so we will not be paying you back”. Ah … democracy at work.

Author: Rutger2; via Wikimedia Commons; GNU Free Documentation License


I guess that we should have realised that the expression “Beware Greeks bearing gifts” actually cut both ways and that we also had to “Beware Greeks asking for hand-outs”.

A number of studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, estimate that tax evasion is costing the Greek Government about € 30 billion per year.

In the wealthy northern suburbs of Athens only 324 residents ticked the box on their tax return admitting that they have a swimming pool. Tax officials using satellite photographs of the same area came up with 16,974.

Source: Wikimedia Commons


The worst offenders are the self-employed, who form a major proportion of working people in a country of small businesses, and it’s not just the taxi-drivers, plumbers, electricians and restaurant owners. Tax authorities recently surveyed the returns of 150 doctors with practices in Kolonaki, a trendy neighbourhood in Athens that hosts the major global designer brands. More than 50% claimed incomes of less than € 40,000 and 25% claimed incomes of less than € 13,300 which exempted them from paying any income tax at all. These levels of income would not even cover them for paying rent on their premises in this area let alone being able to afford the luxury homes, cars, boats and jewellery that these people possess.

In a country of 11 million only a few thousand reported earnings in excess of € 132,000 per annum and an inordinately large number of people claim that they earn less that € 12,000 per year, which would not even cover them for heating their home or running their car.

If the Greeks just paid their taxes the way most of the western world has to, any part of € 30 billion extra annually would go a long way to alleviating the financial crisis that exists and that threatens to envelope the rest of Europe.

Instead, the Greeks have taken to the streets with an attitude that expects the rest of the world to pay for their lifestyles, and for the corruption and practice of “fakelaki” (Greek for little envelope) used for bribing everyone from Government officials to medical practitioners, which is so widespread that the rates for each one are common knowledge.

Author: Joanna; Source: Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons


George Papandreou is struggling to form a unity Government, the EU Finance Ministers can’t agree on what to do next and under what conditions, Greece’s debt has been downgraded to junk status and it looks at as though Greece is heading towards default on its debt, which could herald another global financial meltdown.

As Leonidas Haymanopolis in Athens I will be significantly better off than if I stay in France and continue to pay all the French taxes, and I will be able to take to the streets and do battle with the authorities to protect my right to ask everyone else to fund my idleness.

Αντίο και Θεός σας ευλογήστε. (good bye and god bless you)

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10 Responses to IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME

  1. Frank says:

    Let me please call you Lesvos (not the island).. how right you are. And those 11m people are hurting my superannuation down under too, as the stock market moves to panic mode yet again. Interesting Greeks not paying taxes is “cultural”, they really work hard “down under”, but prefer “cash businesses”, the only time they enjoy their bank accounts (here and in Greece), if when KRudd gave his $900 handouts. I love Greece, Greeks and their history, hopefully logic will prevail and 11mill angry Greeks don’t pull another GFC trigger. Go Lesvos! rgds, Frank

  2. leshayman says:

    Hi Frank, you are right about tax evasion being culturally ingrained. Even my Greek dentist in Sydney let it be known that he preferred cash. I also hope that “logic will prevail”, but I doubt that any Greek Government will have the balls to make it happen, as the last offer to the EU was that Greece would increase their tax take by €1.5B annually, which is a token compared to the €30B that should be targetted. The question now is can the fallout of a Greek default be contained, when the EU is talking about giving them another €100B … some of which will be another contribution from me, based on France being a major benefactor. Les

  3. trevor jarrett says:

    I would die laughing Les if it wasn’t
    so serious !

  4. Enrico Negroni says:

    Leonidas,
    I cannot agree with you more. Even doing business in Greece was for me the most awful and difficult task performed in my business life. Just there I’ve seen Major Account deal just cancelled the day after signing just because…they changed their mind during the night… (too much ouzo ?).
    The most horrible country to deal with !
    Enrico

  5. leshayman says:

    Enrico … maybe we should just sell them to someone rich (like Saudi) just to recover the debt. 🙂
    Les

  6. Roisin says:

    Saw a quote from Jan Randolph of IHS – “The achilles heel of the Greek economy is tax evasion. If the rich paid their taxes there wouldn’t be a problem.” The swimming pool stat is staggering. But who is going to force them to pay their taxes? Great blog as usual, Les.

  7. Lucy Lam says:

    I love your new name ………… Leonidas Haymanopolis!

  8. ginny says:

    Really funny and well written, made us hoot, pity it is so serious!

    Why dont you buy an island? You’ll never get a better price.
    Love Ginny

  9. leshayman says:

    Ginny … great idea about buying a Greek Island. Are there any that are uninhabited by Greeks ? 🙂 Les

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