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Greece

Greece

Thinking beyond borders

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White buildings near blue water,Oia Santorini, Greece
 
All information contained in this document is summarized by KPMG Advisors Single Member S.A., the Greek member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity, based on the Greek income tax laws 2961/2001, 3091/2002, 4172/2013, 4174/2013, 4223/2013, 4251/2014, 4254/2014, 4307/2014, 4308/2014, 4312/2014, 4313/2014 and 4316/2014, 4330/2015, 4334/2015, 4337/2015, 4354/2015, 4387/2016, 4389/2016, 4438/2016, 4446/2016, 4447/2016, 4484/2017, 4490/2017, 4579/2018, 4583/2018, 4571/2018, 4549/2018, 4512/2018.

Persons residing in Greece are liable for income tax on their worldwide income, whether remitted in 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 (tax credit method).

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 their permanent or main residence or habitual residence or center of vital interests, namely their personal, financial and 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 a Greek tax resident as of the first day of their 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 their 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 including their short stay abroad.

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 income tax return unless an election for separate filing is submitted by 28 February of the year following the year for which tax return is to be filed. If such an election is not filed by both or one of the spouses joint filing will take place and no further amendment is possible for the tax year filing in question. Civil unions/partnerships (for both opposite sex and same sex couples) may as well file joint declaration by notifying the Registry Department of their competent tax office. No instruction by the Greek State has yet been provided for civil unions/partnerships previously filing joint tax return but deciding to file separately in the future.

Additionally, all individuals over 18 years of age, who earn income, are obliged to file an income tax return irrespective of whether the income earned by them is subject to tax or not (i.e. as a general rule the taxpayers are not exempt from filing their yearly income tax declarations even if the income received by them is tax exempt).

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 (in Euros (EUR)):

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, 2019
Changes to the above rates are expected as of 1 January 2020.
 
Annual Family Tax Credits on employment/pension income (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 Greek Law. In particular, expenses that must be effected via electronic payment in order to secure the tax credit are as follows:

  • 10 percent of income for income up to EUR10,000. 
  • 15 percent of income for income from EUR10,000.01 up to EUR30,000.
  • 20 percent and up to EUR 30 000 of income for income exceeding EUR 30 000

With a maximum value (ceiling) of expenses of EUR34,000, regardless of income level.

A tax of 22 percent 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.

Board of Directors Fees

As for 1 January 2014 the Board of Directors Fees are classified as employment income and are taxed based on the applicable tax scale for salaried employees.

Business activity

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

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 EUR10,000.

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 10 percent.
  • Interest* is subject to withholding tax at the rate of 15 percent.
  • 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 percent.
  • Rental income is taxed at the rate of 15 percent for income up to EUR12,000, 35 percent for income from EUR12,001 up to 35,000, and 45 percent for income exceeding EUR35,000.

* These rates are superseded by the provisions of the double taxation treaties concluded by Greece with other countries/territories.

Some tax exemptions apply to various types of investment income (e.g. dividends earned via European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) mutual funds, etc.).

Capital gains

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

  • the individual-shareholder seller holds at least 0.5 percent 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 2019.

Some tax exemptions apply to various types of investment income (e.g. capital gains earned via EU/EEA UCIT mutual funds and the Greek State bonds etc.).

** Subject to the specifically signed Double Tax Treaty Agreement between Greece and the other country/territory concerned.

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 percent (employee’s) for the period from 1 January 2018 until 30 May 2019 and 15.75 percent (employee’s) as of 1 June 2019 onwards; and 25.06 percent (employer’s) from 1 January 2018 until 30 May 2019 and 24.81 percent (employer’s) as of 1 June 2019 onwards whereas a maximum monthly gross salary on which contributions are due is provided (currently EUR5,860.80 up to 31 January 2019 and EUR6,500.00 as of 1 February 2019 onwards). 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. The filing deadline is extended to 31 December in case the individual filed an application for change of residency to that of a non-Greek tax resident.

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. By 28 February following the end of the year, the employer is obliged to report, via the personalized online account TAXISnet with the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, the annual taxable employment income (i.e. gross employment income minus the applicable social security contributions and other applicable deductions (if any)) 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. 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 an annual salary letter (either in hard copy or electronically) to the employee 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 EEA (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 3 months.

Permanent establishment implications

The definition of permanent establishment introduced in the Greek Income Tax Code is aligned with 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 partially 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.

Following the general rule, the provisions of the double taxation treaties concluded by Greece with other countries/territories, which may include a narrower definition of a permanent establishment shall prevail over the provisions of the Greek Income Tax Code.

Other immigration considerations

Third countries’/territories’ citizens wishing to work in Greece must 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’/territories’ citizens may require a 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/territories to prevent double taxation and allow cooperation between Greece and other tax authorities in enforcing their respective tax laws.

Indirect taxes

Indirect taxation provides above 40 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 with 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:
  • EUR100,000 cumulatively per tax year, if the Gross Revenue of the taxpayer does not exceed the amount of EUR5 million per tax year, or
  • EUR200,000 cumulatively per tax year, if the Gross Revenue of the taxpayer does exceed the amount of EUR5 million 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. 6 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.

Greece has not yet implemented the BEPS Action 13, in relation to Master File and Local File but has implemented the Country-by-Country (CbyC) Reporting. This obligation relates to Multi National (MNE) Groups with total consolidated group revenue exceeding EUR750 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.

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 EUR500 and cannot exceed EUR2,000 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 EUR200,000. 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 percent 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 EUR2,500 and cannot exceed EUR10,000 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 EUR5,000-EUR20,000 depending on the days of delay of the submission. The maximum penalty of EUR20,000 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 EUR4,000 per depositor/payer per 2 months can be transferred abroad from credit and payment institutions operating in Greece. Moreover, it is permitted to transfer funds to foreign banks up to EUR100,000 - 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 EUR100,000), 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 EU or the EEA and:

  • earn more than 90 percent of their global income in Greece, or
  • prove that their taxable income is so low that they should be eligible for tax deductions according to the tax legislation in the country/territory they reside in.

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