by Staff Reporter

THE Balearic tax office has embargoed a total of 17'959 bank accounts in the islands between January and June this year, 13.22 per cent more than the same period last year. A spokesman for the tax office said yesterday that this action had been taken to cover tax owed, surcharges, interest and costs.
The total money reclaimed was more than 184 million euros, the result of nearly 18'000 investigations conducted in the first six months of the year.
Before proceding with the embargo of the debtor's assets, the tax office issues a warning, ordering the debt to be paid, with its corresponding surcharge. If the time limit for depositing the money expires, the guarantees are then taken up. If the debtor's patrimony is not enough to cover the debt, the embargo order is issued. The list of goods to be embargoed is set legally, first, cash in hand, then bank accounts and sums which can be realised in the short-term.
Wages, salaries, pensions and property can also be embargoed.
Last year, the tax office detected 213.26 million euros in fiscal fraud, black money and contraband in the Balearics, a 14.39 per cent increase in relation to controls in the previous year. Fraudulent operations detected nationwide came to 11'000 million euros, up by 13 per cent compared to 2001, to which must be added nearly 1'000 million euros in concept of drug trafficking. The Balearic tax office keeps a close watch on the real estate and luxury yacht sectors.
Last year, it organised a special operation, obtaining information from the tourist regions, the so-called Coastal Plan, under which it obtained information on tourism rents, season buildings and activities related to marinas. More than 20'000 of these were related to the Balearics.

The tax office in the Balearics, headed by Ignacio Fernández Alegria, has practically the same number of inspectors as last year. It concentrates its efforts on investments. Last year, it handled more than 17'600 cases, corresponding to yachts, berths and businesses in marinas. It also picked up information on 2'500 apartment rentals registered in the islands during the summer and nearly 400 more corresponding to various activities and businesses during the tourist season. The information has been logged in its data base.