Greece: Greece introduces an attractive tax status for foreign high net-worth individuals
Manos Tountas of EY Greece examines the new ambitious tax law which could help bring a new wave of wealthy entrepreneurs into the peninsula.
Taking effect from December 12 2019, Greece rolled out a new tax legislation which on the outset, looks to entice high net-worth individuals to relocate their tax domicile to Greece and choose to be subject to an alternate tax regime for their non-Greek source income.
Being subject to Law 4646/12.12.2019 will mean that these individuals:
Will qualify as tax residents of Greece and will be eligible for protection under the 57 international tax treaties for the avoidance of double taxation that Greece has enacted with foreign countries;
Will be exempt from the requirement to report and be taxed locally on their foreign source income (according to the locally applicable progressive tax rates highest burden could reach 54%) while being required to pay a flat tax amount yearly on their foreign source income regardless of its origin;
Will, however, be subject to Greek income tax according to the local rules and progressive tax scales only on their Greek source income.
The above reflects an attempt by the Greek government to introduce a special tax regime loosely based on the ‘non-dom’ programme, which has been applicable in Italy since 2017, and to offer tax incentives to high net-worth individuals willing to reside in Greece. This is provided that they pay an annual flat tax amount on their non-Greek source income without being required to report this on a Greek tax return and without the need to justify or document its origin.
It is noted that Greece already runs a ’golden visa’ program that hands out five-year residence permits to non-EU citizens in return for making an investment in Greece (minimum thresholds apply depending on the type of investment made) with no minimum length of stay set by the government.
In order for someone to become eligible for the Law 4646 tax regime, they need to satisfy the following conditions:
They have not been Greek tax residents for the previous seven of the last eight years before the transfer of their tax residence to Greece; and at the same time.
They prove that they or a close relative of them have made an investment of at least € 500,000 in real estate, businesses or legal entities in Greece, or securities or shares in legal entities based in Greece or through legal persons in which they hold the majority of the shares; the latter obligation would be waived if they have already been provided with a 'golden visa’ or other residence permit obliging them to make an investment in Greece (thresholds apply depending on the type of investment made).
Filing of the application for the transfer of the tax residence per the above process is March 31 of each respective tax year.
Provided that the application for the transfer of the tax residence per the above process is successful: a) the individual will need to pay an amount of €100,000 per tax year for income arising abroad, b) the individual will need to declare and be taxed in Greece only for Greek source income, c) any assets held abroad by said individual will be exempted from inheritance/donation tax.
The individual who opts to be subject to the above alternate method of taxation may request that the application be extended for their close relatives as well provided that they will pay the amount of €20,000 per tax year per relative.
For taxpayers who are subject to the regime of the alternate taxation they may cover their deemed income through the importation of foreign exchange from abroad, with no need to justify the origin of the funds.
A maximum of 15 years is set for the eligibility for the alternate taxation regime since the first year of the application is made and it may be revoked at any time.
We expect the Greek Ministry of Finance to issue detailed guidelines for the practical application of the above regime in due course.
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