In order for tourism to continue to perform well it’s essential to ensure that a stable tax regime is put in place, which will not create additional barriers shortly before the new tourism season starts.
Recent reports about possible abolition of the reduced rate of VAT on the Greek islands and for tourist accommodation could result in the dynamic development of Greek tourism being reversed, with tourists potentially turning to competing countries which have lower rates of VAT on their package holidays.
1. Is opposed to VAT hikes on accommodation.
2. Has requested that VAT on catering be reduced or retained at 13% .
3. Has requested that a flat rate of corporate tax of 15% be adopted to encourage entrepreneurialism and promote growth in Greece, while also ensuring that there is a stable tax regime for a period of at least 5 years.
4. Is in favour of businesses with a turnover of up to € 10,000 being VAT exempt.
5. Has requested that property tax payable by tourism enterprises of any type, be calculated at a reduced rate because of the special nature of these businesses and how they operate.
SETE would once again like to reiterate how important it is to keep VAT rates on tourism accommodation, at least on current level. This will ensure that Greek tourism will continue to grow and thereby make a practical contribution to the national economy and improve competitiveness.
Tax exempt reserves
The provisions of the new Hellenic Income Tax Code (Article 72(12) and (13) of Law 4172/2013) have created a transitional stage for managing tax exempt reserves since such reserves were to be abolished from 1.1.2015 onwards. These are reserves that have not been distributed or capitalised, which come from untaxed profits formed in accordance with the provisions of the old income tax code contained in Law 2238/1994. More specifically:
- If these reserves were distributed or capitalised by 31.12.2013 a flat rate tax of 15% is payable. Once the tax is paid, the company and shareholders/partners no longer have any liability to pay tax.
- From 1.1.2014 onwards, reserves which were not distributed or capitalised by 31.12.2013 must necessarily be offset against losses for the last 5 years until the total amount is used up, otherwise the reserves will be taxed at a rate of 19% if distributed or capitalised.
Suggestions about how to combat tax and social security evasion
SETE is in favour of adopting measures to combat all forms of tax evasion and tax avoidance, to protect the overall tourism sector. A list of suggested measures is set out below:
- Spot checks in the marketplace should be instituted immediately.
- Harsh financial sanctions must be imposed on all those breaking the law and there must also be an option to suspend businesses for a certain time.
- e-invoices should be used and cash registers should be connected to the General Secretariat for Public Revenues, which will improve information flows while also freeing businesspeople up from time-consuming procedures and preventing delays.
- Receipts should be collected and incentives given to taxpayers to collect them. For example collecting receipts could be tied into establishing entitlement to the tax-free allowance.
- Credit and debit cards should be used for transactions over € 300. Initially this measure could be tested in tourist areas and then extended to all large urban centres. This proposal would push competition in the right direction and significantly increase public revenues, making a decisive contribution to collecting VAT.
- Salaries should be paid only via a bank account.