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Greeks abroad may face charges of tax evasion

31 August 2013 / 18:08:07  GRReporter
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A Greek has been living in London for the last 6 years, but he has kept a house in Greece and rents it. His annual incomes in Greece amount to 5,000 euro, and those abroad amount to 70,000 euro and he declares them in their respective countries. However, this year the Greek tax authorities have wanted him to pay a tax for the total amount of his incomes in and out of Greece and for all the 6 years of living abroad, amounting to about 40,000 euros.

This is not a mistake. The Specific taxpayer is one of the many "side losses" of the combat against tax evasion. In order to deal with the problem of the increasing number of Greeks who are saying that they live permanently abroad in order to avoid high taxation in Greece, the Finance Ministry has issued a rule according to which Greeks abroad who do not want to be taxed twice, must explicitly state the change of their tax address. Documents that need to be collected include a certificate for tax purposes, a copy of the contract from abroad, a certificate of residence from the municipality, a copy of the rent or purchase of a home abroad, a certificate that their children attend school abroad, an electricity or water bill, a copy of the tax return for the income paid in tax offices according to their address abroad. In all other cases, they will be considered as living in Greece.

However, no one has informed those people affected and as a result, the deadline expired on 28 June, and the procedure can no longer be started. Thus, many Greeks who live abroad and retain a small income in Greece are now threatened by tax evasion from their total revenues. To what extent someone can be exempted from taxation in another country depends on bilateral agreements on double taxation.

Representatives of Greeks abroad said that the fact that they can be accused of tax evasion was a "pogrom". Tax consultant of the Union of property owners of Greeks abroad Orestis Seymenis said that because of this law Greeks abroad are receding further away from home. "In 2010, the Greek State remembered them. It asked them to pay taxes retroactively for many years back for revenues that they have earned abroad, while in Greece they have just received a small rent from a house in a village or had zero income. This Act came into force suddenly. But why? Because they left Greece 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago and have forgotten to go to the tax office and declare that they were leaving the country. And it doesn’t matter that they have been sending money to Greece and making investments for all these years. "

As written by a Greek who lives abroad in, "Ever since I was born, I have been a foreign resident; I had an inheritance from my aunt, but, thankfully, I managed to get rid of it. I brought them the document and everything finished." Another Greek who lives in Germany wrote: "They ruined my vacation at the tax office in Ilioupouli. I brought them a document from the city in which I live, but they did not recognize it. They wanted some documents from me, but I told them that I can’t bring them, since the consulate is 600 km away and I have to go there and pay for a hotel. I am ashamed because of them."

The Secretary General of the Council of Greeks Abroad Olga Sarandopoulou informed Minister Yiannis Stournaras about the problem. As she said, Greeks abroad have to submit new documents, which in many cases are not issued by tax authorities of residence. In the case that they do not have such documents, they may face double taxation, since they are not recognized as citizens of a foreign country. Their earnings abroad are taxed in Greece, too.

Tags: Greeks abroad double taxation real estate tax evasion
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