News 07 Oct 14
In a new effort to curb the extensive “grey” informal economy – and boost its own revenues – the Albanian government is planning to launch a new lottery based on receipts for purchases.
An Albanian Ministry of Finance spokesperson told BIRN that a new lottery, aimed at tackling tax evasion, will be “launched officially in April 2015”.
It has yet to be decided whether the new lottery will award cash or prizes. However, the core idea is that a lottery based on prizes for the submission of receipts for purchased goods will help curb the grey econony, by encouraging the public to demand receipts from shops whenever they buy items – limiting the ability of vendors to evade payment of VAT.
The grey economy is a serious matter in Albania, starving the government of cash it would dearly get hold of. Both the Finance Ministry and the IMF have estimated that the informal economy could be worth as 40 per cent more than its official counterpart.
In 2010, the former center-right government ordered the installation of new cash machines in shops and restaurants to combat tax evasion.
The deadline for the process of installing the new registers had to be extended several times, however, because of problems with the machines and because of protests by small business owners over their cost, which ranged between 460 and 600 euro.
Although most businesses have now installed the new machines, few use them regularly. The rest often print only a few receipts every day.
According to local media reports, the government has great expectations of the lottery, because Albanians like to gamble and officials hope to harness this instinct in the battle against tax cheats.
Gambling has soared in Albania in recent years. According to tax records, Albanians spend nearly 100 million euro on gambling activities every year.