New Democracy Wants World’s Wealthiest, Will Offer Incentives

New Democracy conservative party. AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – After Greek workers, pensioners and the poor have been buried with harsh austerity measures and big taxes the last 9 ½ years, and rich Greeks are hiding their money in secret foreign bank accounts, the new New Democracy government is readying to invite the world’s super-rich to bring their money and will give them incentives to do it.

Using an Italian model, a clause will be included in next month’s tax bill aimed at individuals and corporations with large deposits with schemes to lure them to register with tax authorities in Greece, said Kathimerini, with no apparent plans to do the same for weary Greeks and offering significant incentives for registering with the Greek tax authorities.

Finance Ministry officials are said to believe the timing is right with the scheduled Oct. 31 departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, barring another extension, and with the rich in London perhaps looking for other places to put their money.

It wasn’t explained how Greece, still coming out of a long economic and austerity crisis and with sky-high taxes – the new government cut the corporate rate from 29 to 24 percent and plan to lower it to 20 percent to aid business but no income tax cuts reported coming – could be attractive as a tax haven given the country’s volatile tax laws that change frequently.

Thousands of businesses during the crisis moved their headquarters outside the country, including some of Greece’s biggest names and many wealthy Greeks don’t use Greek banks with laws allowing the government to confiscate bank accounts and safe deposit box holdings.

The ministry examined the models applied in other countries, such as Malta, Cyprus and Portugal, before picking one from Italy, the paper said, which provides for a fixed payment of annual tax of 100,000 euros ($110,257) on the global income of taxpayers, plus 25,000 euros ($27,564) per dependent family member for incomes earned outside the country.

In Italy that meant they had to take up tax residency in the country and have been paying taxes in another country for at least nine of the previous 10 years before applying. They would also have to take up permanent residence at least 183 days a year, non-consecutive.
The status will expire after 15 years without the option of renewal and can be revoked if the beneficiary asks, without the option of renewal later on.