Originally published at: Greece’s New Tax Incentive Program for Foreign Retirees
The Greek Financial Crisis
Greece has long been a touristic country which attracts a surmountable number of tourists annually. In 2009, however, Greece went through a devastating financial crisis. Since then, the Greek government has been doing everything in its power to boost the economy.
In 2013, Greece launched it’s Golden Visa program. The Greece Golden Visa program is a residency by investment program. This program grants investors a permanent residence in Greece in exchange for an investment in real estate. The Golden Visa turned out to be a smashing success, raising over €2 Billion in investments since its inception.
Another initiative the Greek government made was to sign Double Taxation Agreements(DTA) with various countries worldwide. The DTA prevents individuals from being taxed on the same income in two countries. In this way, if you’re a foreign tax resident in Greece, your foreign-sourced income won’t be subject to taxation.
The goal of these initiatives was to draw foreign investors into the country. Now, Greece has come up with yet another way to attract foreigners into the country, this time focusing on retirees.
The 7% Flat Tax Rate for Foreign Retirees
In July 2020, Greece passed a draft law to be tabled by parliament. According to this law, if a foreign retiree relocates their tax residency to Greece, they will get a flat tax rate of 7%. The exciting part of this regulation is that the taxation program is valid for all of the foreign incomes a pensioner has. This includes investments, pensions, rents, business activities, dividends, and more.
Moreover, the enforcement will be valid for ten years. So, there will be no taxation on any foreign income for ten years.
Athina Kalyva, who is the head of tax policy in the Finance Ministry of Greece, says that “We hope that pensioners benefiting from this attractive rate will spend most of their time in Greece, that would mean investing a bit – renting or buying a home.” She continues, “We have a beautiful country, a very good climate, so why not?” So, Greece is quite determined to bring foreign pensioners into the country.
There is another issue at the table, however. Some people claim that the practice will be unfair for Greek residents. Yet, Alex Patelis, who is the adviser of Greece’s prime minister, clarifies this: “Pensioners, by definition, don’t work, so there’s no competition with the domestic labor force. On the contrary, they will be here spending money. Brits go to Spain, American people move to Florida, so why not Greece?”
Who Can Qualify for This Program
There are some restrictions on the application process, for sure. To qualify for this program you need to:
- Be from a country that Greece has a DTA with,
- Not have been a tax resident in Greece for five years of the last six years before your application,
- Indicate your pension status,
- Agree that you will stay in Greece for at least six months a year.
Greece is not the first country to implement this practice. In previous years, Portugal offered similar incentives to attract foreigners to the country. Both countries offer Golden Visa programs. Considering the low threshold of investment, Greece may be a good option for investors who have a lower budget. After benefiting from the rights of the Golden Visa, you can enjoy the favorable tax treatments mentioned in Greece when you retire.
So if you’re a retiree looking to move to Europe, we highly suggest that you consider Greece as your option for retirement.