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IMF Gives Greece Thumbs Up

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International Monetary Fund officials said today that Greece has shown “great progress” in implementing austerity measures to cut the European Union’s second-biggest budget gap and should qualify for a 9 billion- euro ($11.8 billion) installment of emergency loans.

The “performance criteria have all been met, led by a vigorous implementation of the fiscal program and important reforms are ahead of schedule,” the EU, IMF and European Central Bank officials said in a joint-statement. “Our overall assessment is that the program has made a strong start.”

The Greeks have worked hard to try and get leaner and meaner, raising taxes, cutting wages, and overhauling the country’s pension systems. Here’s what else they’re doing: cracking down on tax evasion.

To address this last goal, our friends in Athens are using the latest sophisticated technology: Google Earth. (HT: TaxProf Blog)

Yes, you and your friends might use the tool to check out old apartments you used to live in, but authorities in Greece are now employing the technology to catch tax cheats. According to Der Spiegel, the Greek government now uses Google Earth to find out who in Athens swanky suburbs have undeclared swimming pools, villas, and properties.

These tactics have revealed that the suburbs didn't have 324 swimming pools, as was reported, but rather 16,974.

"We are making it increasingly difficult to cheat," said one Greek official. "And we are making sure that not just the small fish but also the big fish get caught in the net."
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