International Tax Review is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2023

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Greece: Separate tax residence status for spouses


The Greek codified civil law rules provide that a married couple is expected to share a single residence. Thus, the Greek Tax Administration has traditionally followed the concept of a single joint family residence for tax purposes. It has considered that, if the spouse is left behind, the departing taxpayer may not change his/her tax residence status from Greek to foreign, regardless of any other parameters, following a narrow interpretation of the centre of vital interests.

One of the most notable aftermaths of the severe financial crisis in Greece has been the so-called brain drain. Many Greeks were forced to move out of Greece in search of work abroad. In such cases, the family of the departing taxpayer has often chosen to remain in Greece, without this having any impact on the family status of the individual.

In such cases, the Tax Administration has refused to admit the change of tax residence of the individual and both the taxpayer and the spouse had to continue filing a joint income tax return as Greek tax residents. Nevertheless, the Supreme Administrative Court's decision 1445/2016, issued on the concept of separate tax residence of spouses, dealt with a case where a German citizen worked and lived at his home in Germany, whereas the Greek citizen spouse worked for the core of Greek public administration and along with their common child lived at their home in Greece. It is noted that, according to domestic tax rules, a Greek citizen working for the Greek public administration is considered a Greek tax resident, even if public service duties are carried out abroad. The case was introduced to the Supreme Administrative Court as a pilot trial, i.e. fast track trial addressing matters of general public interest. 

The taxpayer challenged the view that the spouses have by definition a single joint tax residence based on domestic tax rules, as well as the alignment of such rules (even if assumed as existent) with the double tax treaty between Germany and Greece. The court's decision listed the OECD tie breaker rules on a "permanent home available" and on the "centre of vital interests" as indicators of the tax residence. However, the court did not give exclusive priority to the location where the rest of the family members reside over other determinants and went further to state that spouses having separate residences is conceptually possible, especially in the contemporary context (social, economic and ethical perceptions and factual background of our era). The court concluded that the two spouses may conceptually have separate tax residence status and that the foreign tax resident may in such (exceptional) case exclude foreign sourced income from his Greek tax return, in case he has to file one (e.g. for any Greek sourced income).

Moreover, the Supreme Administrative Court's decision 1215/2017 judged on a case where spouses had separate tax residences and referenced back to Supreme Administrative Court decision 1445/2016. The court rejected the argument of the Greek Tax Administration that only divorced or de facto separated couples are allowed to file separate income tax returns, and allowed for separate filings by the foreign tax resident taxpayer and the Greek tax resident spouse.

The abovementioned jurisprudence constitutes a significant step forward in the notion of the tax residence in Greece, taking into account the particular social and economic circumstances of our times. It remains to be seen whether the Greek Tax Administration will fully harmonise its stance with the above discussed case law.

Konstantinos Mavraganis (, Maroussi


Tel: +30 210 2886 000


more across site & bottom lb ros

More from across our site

The controversial measure is being watered down after criticism from the European Central Bank.
More than 600 such requests were made in 2022, while HMRC has also bolstered its fraud service, it has been revealed.
The General Court reverses its position taken four years ago, while the UN discusses tax policy in New York.
Discussion on amount B under the first part of the OECD's two-pronged approach to international tax reform is far from over, if the latest consultation is anything go by.
Pillar two might be top of mind for many multinational companies, but the huge variations between countries’ readiness means getting ahead of the game now, argues Russell Gammon, chief solutions officer at Tax Systems.
ITR’s latest quarterly PDF is going live today, leading on the looming battle between the UN and the OECD for dominance in global tax policy.
Company tax changes are central to the German government’s plan to revive the economy, but sources say they miss the mark. Ralph Cunningham reports.
The winners of the ITR Americas Tax Awards have been announced for 2023!
There is a ‘huge demand’ for tax services in the Middle East, says new Clyde & Co partner Rachel Fox in an interview with ITR.
The ECB warns the tax could leave banks with weaker capital levels, while the UAE publishes guidance on its new corporate tax regime.