EnforcementVerification of compliance with tax laws
How does the tax authority verify compliance with the tax laws? Does this vary for different taxpayers or taxes?
Normally, on submission of a tax return, tax is assessed without further action by the tax authorities, either simultaneously with the submission of the tax return or shortly after in the case of annual income tax returns. However, following a tax audit, the tax authorities may issue a corrective tax assessment, provided that the audit shows that the previously submitted tax return was inaccurate or mistaken.
If the taxpayer does not file a tax return despite his or her respective obligation, an estimated tax assessment may be issued unless the taxpayer files a late tax return.
In extremely urgent cases, such as when there are indications that the taxpayer intends to leave the country, thus jeopardising the collection of taxes due, especially through the transfer of assets, the tax authorities may issue a preventative tax assessment prior to the date for submission of the respective tax return. In such a case, the taxpayer either pays the tax indicated on the preventative tax assessment as a lump sum or secures its payment by providing a guarantee or by accepting a lien of property in favour of the tax administration for the total amount of the tax liability.Tax return review procedure and limitation periods
What is the typical procedure for the tax authority to review a tax return and how long does the review last? What limitation periods apply?
Different types of taxpayers are subject to different reporting requirements. Employees and pensioners are subject to limited reporting and essentially to an annual income tax return. Such individuals are usually subject to an audit if an unjustified increase in their assets is found (usually following an audit of their bank accounts). Individuals of a certain wealth are audited by a special audit centre.
Businesses (either individuals or legal entities) are subject to increased reporting standards, which involve maintaining accounting books on the basis of the simplified or double-entry accounting principle. Although efforts have been made to reduce the amount of reporting required, Greece is still a country of complicated and intensive requirements. Businesses are also subject to a variety of tax reviews, including, for example, full audit, partial audit (for a certain tax item) and audit for VAT refund.
Over the last year, Greek tax authorities have been developing a digital platform (named myDATA), which in the near future will enable businesses to maintain electronic books and record invoice and tax receipt data.Tax authority requests for information
What types of information may the tax authority request from taxpayers? Can the tax authority interview the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s employees? If so, are there any restrictions?
Upon written request of the tax authorities, the taxpayer is obliged to provide copies of its books and records or any other related documents for the determination of the taxpayer's tax liability, including lists of customers and suppliers, as well as any other information, within five business days from the notification of the request. There is also an obligation for certain third parties (eg, banks, undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities and notaries) to provide the tax authorities with all the requested information they possess in relation to the taxpayer within 10 days, with the exception of privileged information and documents. In the case of data and information in a foreign language, an official translation in Greek should be submitted.
Interviews with the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s employees are not required by Greek tax legislation. However, in practice, during a tax audit, the auditors may discuss issues raised by the audit with the taxpayer. Additionally, before notification of the final assessment, the tax audit authority is obligated to inform the taxpayer of its preliminary findings and request the taxpayer’s written position.Taxpayer failure to provide information
What actions may the tax authority take if the taxpayer does not provide the required information?
Failure to respond to requests by the tax administration to provide the required information constitutes a procedural infringement and a penalty is imposed on the taxpayer. Moreover, if the information not provided refers to the business books and records kept and issued by the taxpayer, the tax authorities may use indirect methods to determine the taxable income by calculating the taxpayer’s gross income and outflows on the basis of generally accepted principles and techniques of auditing. Such methods include analysis of the liquidity of the taxpayer; the net position of the relation between the sales price and the total turnover; and the amount of bank deposits and expenses in cash.Collecting overdue payments
How may the tax authority collect overdue tax payments following a tax review?
As soon as the assessment is notified to the taxpayer, the tax administration issues the taxpayer with a payment notice prior to proceeding to any enforcement action. In the event of non-payment of the amount due within 30 days from the notification of the payment notice, the tax authorities may proceed (without a judicial decision) to the imposition of a seizure of movable assets, real estate, property rights, claims and, in general, all of the debtor’s assets or, in case of the debtor being a legal entity, to all of the directors’ assets bearing joint liability (the latter is applicable under conditions specified by the law). On the basis of the above conditions, the tax authorities may also proceed to take appropriate interim measures.
Non-payment of tax due for a period of time longer than four months is a criminal offence (a misdemeanour – this refers to non-payment of taxes over €100,000).Penalties - scope of application
How are penalties calculated?
The penalties for procedural infringements are fixed and depend on the simplified or complex accounting status of the taxpayer; that is, different penalties are imposed on taxpayers who are not liable to maintain accounting books and those who are liable to maintain accounting books on the basis of simplified or double-entry accounting principles. Repetition of any infringement within five years results in the imposition of a double penalty, whereas a quadruple penalty is imposed for a second repetition.
Penalties for infringements found following an audit by the tax authority depend on the amount of the discrepancy and are calculated as a percentage of the value of the infringement, depending on whether it concerns the fictitiousness, forgery and concealment of taxable income or the non-payment of taxes or the fraudulent refund of taxes.
Penalties for infringements of transfer pricing legislation are calculated as a percentage of the declared gross profits.
What defences are available if penalties are imposed?
The taxpayer may raise all arguments regarding flaws in the formal process of the act of assessment (eg, violations of procedure or a lack of competence), as well as disputing the basis or reasoning of the assessment. Force majeure arguments are extremely difficult to prove and reliance on the advice of an attorney or accountant is disallowed.
By virtue of an amendment to tax legislation, no penalties may be imposed on taxpayers if they have acted following written instructions from the tax administration.
In what circumstances may the tax authority impose penalties?
The tax authority may impose penalties in cases of infringement of Greek tax legislation. These penalties distinguish between penalties for procedural infringements and penalties for infringements found following an audit by the tax authority.
Procedural infringements include (indicatively):
- non-submission or late submission of a statement of informative character or a tax return or a withholding tax return;
- non-compliance with a request of the tax administration for the provision of information or data;
- non-cooperation during a tax audit;
- non-notification to the tax administration of the appointment of a tax representative;
- non-registration before the tax registry; and
- non-compliance with an obligation regarding the keeping of books and issuance of records according to Greek accounting standards, among others.
Infringements found following an audit by the tax authority include (indicatively):
- filing of an inaccurate tax return;
- non-filing of a tax return;
- non-payment of VAT;
- non-issuance of a tax record for a transaction subject to VAT;
- issuance of false tax records;
- issuance and receipt of fictitious tax records; and
- falsification of tax records, among others.
There are also special penalties for infringements of transfer pricing legislation.Criminal consequences
Can criminal consequences arise as a result of tax non-compliance? Are these different for different types of taxpayers?
Legal provisions governing criminal tax evasion have been incorporated in the Greek Code of Tax Procedures, pursuant to which tax evasion is considered to be committed by persons who:
- intentionally avoid the payment of taxes (eg, income tax, uniform tax on the acquisition of ownership, special real estate tax, VAT, turnover tax, premium tax, withholding and imputable taxes, fees or contributions, shipping tax) by not paying or paying incorrectly or reimbursing or setting off or deducting or withholding taxes; and
- intentionally issue false or fictitious tax records as well as receiving fictitious tax records or altering such records, irrespective of whether they evade paying taxes or not.
Under the Greek penal system, legal entities do not bear criminal liability. For this reason, individuals who are engaged with the effective management, administration and representation of a legal entity (either by holding specific executive positions or by exercising de facto management duties) are considered to be the perpetrators or accomplices of tax evasion.Enforcement record
What is the recent enforcement record of the authorities?
Because of the covid-19 pandemic, uncollected taxes due have increased significantly and reached about €111,398 by the end of April 2022 (latest available data).