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Greece

Greece

Thinking beyond borders

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Persons residing in Greece are liable for income tax on their worldwide income, whether remitted to Greece or not. Where tax has already been paid outside Greece on non-Greek-sourced income, the tax may be deducted up to the amount of tax payable in Greece on the same income.

Introduction

Non-residents are taxed only on Greek-sourced income. 

The determination of residency status in Greece is based primarily on the center of  vital interests as well as on a “number of days rule”. Specifically if an individual maintains his permanent or main residence or habitual residence or center of vital interests, namely his personal or financial or social relations in Greece, then the residence of the respective individual for tax purposes is Greece. An individual who is present in Greece for a period exceeding 183 days, inclusive of any short term period of residence abroad, is considered as Greek tax resident as of the first day of his arrival in Greece. 

Income tax

Liability for income tax

The rules governing the individual’s income taxation will be determined by reference to the individual’s tax residency status (i.e. Greek tax resident or non-Greek tax resident).

Tax trigger points

The taxability of employment income of non-Greek residents is determined by reference to the applicable double tax treaty for the avoidance of double taxation (if any).

On the assumption that the individual is registered as a non- Greek tax resident and in case of future tax audit, the Greek tax authorities might require tax residency certificates for the individual in order to evidence/support that the individual is tax resident (and therefore subject to tax on the individual’s worldwide income) in another jurisdiction/state. An individual who is not in a position to provide the requisite documents will automatically be classified as a Greek tax resident by the tax authorities, who will seek to assess tax on the individual’s worldwide income plus penalties (if applicable) for inaccurate filings (when due).

 

New tax residence provisions

The definition of tax residence is introduced on the basis of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines as of 1 January 2014 onwards. The concept of usual (permanent) residence is determined for tax purposes in Greece if someone resides in Greece for more than 183 days in total including his/ her short term stay abroad. 

However, respective provision is not applicable in case of individuals who are present in Greece only for tourism, medical, medicinal or equivalent personal purposes on condition that their presence does not exceed the 365 days threshold.

Types of taxable income

Taxable income is classified into four categories:

  • Employment income and pensions
  • Business activity
  • Capital
  • Capital gains

Married persons are subject to tax separately on their own income but are required to file a joint tax return. However, the joint filing is not mandatory for civil unions and partnerships (of the opposite or same sex). In any case, they are too subject to tax separately on their own income.

Additionally, all individuals over 18 years of age, who earn income, are obliged to file an income tax return irrespective of whether they are subject to tax or not.

Tax rates

Each income category is separately computed and subject to tax. 

For each category the tax rates are indicated below.

Employment income and pensions

For employment/ pension income a progressive tax scale is applicable to both Greek and non-Greek tax residents, with no tax free bracket, as provided in the table below:

Income bracket Tax rate Tax per (Percent) Aggregate income Aggregate tax
First 20,000 22% 4,400 20,000 4,400
Next 10,000 29% 2,900 30,000 7,300
Next 10,000 37% 3,700 40,000 11,000
Over 40,000 45% - - -
Source: KPMG in Greece, 2017
Annual Family Tax Credits (applicable as of tax year 2016):
Taxpayers without children EUR 1 900
Taxpayers with one child EUR 1 950
Taxpayers with two children EUR 2 000
Taxpayers with three children EUR 2 100
Income threshold for full credit  EUR 20 000

Reduction in credit if income

exceeds the threshold

 EUR 10 per 

EUR 1 000 of income

Collection of expense receipts

As of 1 January 2017, the above tax credit is linked to a minimum value of expenses that must be incurred by individuals via electronic payment, depending on the individuals’ level of income.

A progressive scale applies for the determination of the income tax reduction related to electronic transactions acknowledged as expenses for specific groups of goods and services as determined by the Greek Law. In particular, expenses that must be effected via electronic payment in order to secure the tax credit are as follows:

  • 10% of income for income up to EUR 10,000. 
  • 15% of income for income from EUR 10,000.01 up to EUR 30.000.
  • 20% of income for income exceeding EUR 30,000 with a maximum value (ceiling) of expenses of EUR 30,000, regardless of income level. 

A tax of 22% is imposed on the difference between the amount required and the amount declared, when the minimum amount of expenses is not effected via electronic payment.

Business activity

Business activity income, including private agricultural business, is subject to the same progressive scale as employment income which is provided below:

Income bracket Tax rate Tax per (Percent) Aggregate income Aggregate tax
First 20,000 22% 4,400 20,000 4,400
Next 10,000 29% 2,900 30,000 7,300
Next 10,000 37% 3,700 40,000 11,000
Over 40,000 45% - - -

However, for new private businesses and entrepreneurs with commencement date as of 1 January 2013 onwards and for the first 3 years of their operation the tax rate of the first scale is reduced by 50 percent provided that the annual gross business income is up to EUR 10,000.

Income earned from private agricultural business is subject to the same tax credit as employment/ pension income. (i.e. respective tax credit is not available for business income).

Capital

  • Dividends are subject to withholding tax at the rate of 15%.
  • Interest is subject to withholding tax at the rate of 15%.
  • Royalties and other fees paid to advisors and construction entities as well as management fees are subject to withholding tax at the rate of 20%.
  • Rental income is taxed at the rate of 15% for income up to EUR 12,000, 35% for income from EUR 12,001 up to 35,000, and 45% for income exceeding EUR 35 000.

Capital gains

Capital gains arising from the transfer of listed securities and derivatives are taxed at the rate of 15% on condition that the following are cumulatively met:

  • the individual-shareholder seller holds at least 0.5% of the share capital of the listed entity, and,
  • the shares were acquired after 1 January 2009.

Capital gains arising from the transfer of real estate is not subject to tax until 31 December 2018.

Social security

Liability for social security

According to Greek law, all employees are subject to social security contribution. The employee’s social security contribution is withheld on a monthly basis from the salary by the employer whereas employer’s social security contributions are also due. The standard rates currently in force are 16% (employee’s) and 25.06% (employer’s) whereas a maximum monthly gross salary on which contributions are due is provided (currently EUR 5 860.80). It should be noted that not all the categories of the working force are covered by the same social security rates as the salaried employees. Further investigation is required in case the individual performs other kinds of entrepreneurial/business activities.

Compliance obligations

Employee compliance obligations

As of 1 January 2016 personal income tax returns must be filed electronically up to 30 June of the year following the end of the relevant tax year. The tax year for individuals is the calendar year.

Employer reporting and withholding requirements

Under Greek tax law, employment income is taxable in the hands of the employee in the year in which the employee is entitled to claim such income, whereas income tax withholding should be effected by the employer. Employers are under an obligation to withhold Greek income tax on the remuneration paid to employees in Greece on a monthly basis (in Greece, salary is payable 14 times per year). 

Amounts of payroll tax withheld on a monthly basis should be remitted by the employer to the tax authorities by the end of the second month following the month that income was paid, at the latest. At the end of the year, the employer is obliged to report via the Independent Authority for Public Revenue the annual taxable employment income (i.e. gross employment income minus the applicable social security contributions) by indicating separately the regular salary and the benefits in kind, as well as the amounts of income tax and solidarity contribution which were withheld during the tax year. For tax year 2017 the respective reporting deadline has not been announced yet by the Greek tax authorities. Respective amounts appear automatically in the electronic form of the employee’s annual personal income tax return (Form E-1). Furthermore, the employer is also obliged to issue and provide to the employee an annual salary letter (either in hard copy or electronically) including the regular salary and any benefit paid to the employee during the tax year as well as the applicable payroll withholding.

Immigration

Work permit/visa requirements

Citizens of EU member states, of the states of the European Economic Area (i.e., Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), and Swiss citizens must apply for the appropriate type of certificate of registration of EU citizens (i.e. for the provision of dependent employment services, for the provision of non-salaried services etc.) if they wish to work in Greece or decide to take up residence in Greece. A stay of up to 3 months does not require a permit. However, in practice, it may be necessary to obtain such a certificate even if the stay is shorter than three months.

Permanent establishment implications

The definition of permanent establishment is introduced on the basis of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines. Permanent establishment is defined as the fixed place of business through which the business of an enterprise is wholly or partly carried on. 

The term permanent establishment includes mainly:

  • a place of management
  • a branch
  • an office
  • a factory 
  • a workshop
  • a mine, an oil or gas well, a quarry or any other place of extraction of natural resources
These criteria are superseded by the provisions of the double taxation treaties concluded by Greece with other countries, which may include a narrower definition of a permanent establishment.

Other immigration considerations

Third countries’ citizens wishing to work in Greecemust apply for the corresponding visa before arriving in Greece and apply for a residence permit immediately upon arrival.

Given that the application procedure for visa is lengthy, the procedure should be commenced well in advance of the planned date of arrival.

Certain third countries’ citizens may require visa to enter the country even for vacation or short business trips.

Other issues

Double taxation treaties

Greece has entered into double taxation treaties with 57 countries to prevent double taxation and allow cooperation between Greece and other tax authorities in enforcing their respective tax laws.

Indirect taxes

Indirect taxation provides close to 50 percent of the state’s tax revenue.

A value-added-tax (VAT) was introduced in Greece in 1987 and is one of the most important indirect taxes. The basic VAT rate applicable to most goods and services is 24 percent; other rates apply as well depending on the nature of goods/ services and/ or geographic location.

Transfer pricing

In accordance to the provisions of Law 4172/2013 and Law 4174/2013 the intercompany transactions with one or more associated enterprises are exempted from the documentation obligation, if they do not exceed the amount of:

  • EUR (EUR 100 000) cumulatively per tax year, if the Gross Revenue of the taxpayer does not exceed the amount of five (5) million EUR per tax year, or
  • EUR (EUR 200 000) cumulatively per tax year, if the Gross Revenue of the taxpayer does exceed the amount of five (5) million EUR per tax year.

The Transfer Pricing Documentation File, where appropriate, must be prepared by the end of the deadline for the submission of the company’s annual Corporate Income Tax Return (i.e. six months from the year-end of the company). The aforementioned Documentation File is accompanied by a Summary Information Sheet which must be electronically submitted to the Independent Authority for Public Revenue of the Ministry of Finance, within the same deadline that is provided for the preparation of the Transfer Pricing Documentation File.

It is noted that Greece has not yet implemented the BEPS Action 13, in relation to Master File and Local File but has implemented the Country by Country Reporting, according to Law 4484/2017 and Law 4490/2017. The new provisions refer to the automatic exchange of the Country by Country Reports (CbyC Reports). This obligation relates to Multi National (MNE) Groups with total consolidated group revenue exceeding EUR 750 million during the immediately preceding fiscal year. Entities of such MNE Groups that are resident for tax purposes in Greece are obliged to notify the Greek tax authorities with respect to the filing of the CbyC Report, no later than the last day of the Reporting Fiscal Year to which it relates.

The Transfer Pricing Documentation File is not submitted per se to the tax authorities however, it must be submitted upon a tax audit to the competent tax authority within 30 days upon request. If the Greek tax authorities challenge a company’s intra-group transactions, then the following may occur:

  • The company’s taxable profit will be adjusted for any differences that may arise in respect of these transactions.
  • The company will be liable for the payment of additional taxes and fines calculated on the amount of tax so assessed.

Other Transfer Pricing penalties applying:

  • Penalty amounting to 1/1000 of the value of transactions under documentation, which cannot be less than EUR 500 and cannot exceed EUR 2,000 is imposed for late submission of the Summary Information Sheet or submission of an incomplete/inadequate Summary Information Sheet. The late submission of an amended Summary Information Sheet is subject to a penalty only if the value of the transactions is amended and the total difference exceeds EUR 200,000. The penalty for the submission of an inaccurate Summary Information Sheet is calculated on the amounts relating to the inaccuracy and is imposed only if respective inaccuracy exceeds the 10% of the total value of the intercompany transactions under documentation.
  • Penalty amounting to 1/1000 of the value of transactions under documentation, which cannot be less than EUR 2,500 and cannot exceed EUR 10,000 is imposed for non-submission of the Summary Information Sheet.
  • The late submission or non-submission of the Documentation File are subject to a penalty of EUR 5,000-EUR 20,000 depending on the days of delay of the submission. The maximum penalty of EUR 20,000 is imposed in the case of non-submission of the Transfer Pricing Documentation File or in the case of its submission to the Tax Authorities after the 90th day of the relevant request.

Local data privacy requirements

Services performed within Greece shall comply with the provisions of the Greek and EU legislation regarding the protection of personal data i.e. the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (which is applicable in Greece) and all the related Greek laws

Exchange control

There are no foreign exchange control restrictions. However, all monetary transfers abroad must be effected through commercial banks in Greece. When approving such transfers (as well as when approving transfers between residents when effected through commercial banks), commercial banks may ask for certain supporting documentation (related to the authenticity of the transaction). For payments made abroad, they may even seek to ensure that the payment has been subject to or exempt from withholding tax.

Nevertheless, according to capital controls introduced in July 2015, the transfer of funds abroad from Greece was generally prohibited, including transfers to accounts held in credit institutions established and operating abroad as well as transfer of funds by the use of credit, debit and prepaid cards for cross-border payments. Subsequent legislative amendments relaxed the above restriction so that now up to EUR 1 000 per depositor/payer per month can be transferred abroad from credit and payment institutions operating in Greece. Moreover, it is permitted to transfer funds to foreign banks up to EUR 20 000 per customer per day, provided that such transfers (i) fall within the scope of the payer’s business activities (i.e. when the transfer is justified as payment of invoices arising from commercial transactions) and (ii) are properly documented (by means of invoices, among others), so that they can be immediately approved by the intermediating credit institutions. Nevertheless, any other transfer of funds, which are in principal prohibited (e.g. transfer of funds arising from commercial transactions as above, exceeding EUR 20 000), may be approved by a Special Committee of the Ministry of Finance.

Non-deductible costs for assignees

Non-Greek residents are not allowed any tax credits, unless they are tax residents of the European Union or the European Economic Area and

  • earning more than 90 percent of their global income in Greece, or
  • proving that their taxable income is that low, that they should be eligible for to tax deductions according to the tax legislation if country they reside in.

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