NEWS FLASH!!! From January of 2020 and for the next 3 years there is no VAT on the purchase or sale properties, new or old. Just a Transfer Tax of 3%!
Property law in Greece – legal basis for purchasing Greek real estate
If one wishes to purchase real estate in Greece, the purchase of Greek property is governed by the Astikos Kodikas (Greek Civil Code), which is comparable to the German Civil Code (BGB). A notarized contract of sale and entry in the Ipothikofilakio (Land Charges Register) or Ktimatologio (Land Register) is required for the purchase.
As in German law, in Greek law the accession of title to a property is only complete upon entry in the Greek Land Register.
Greek real estate: the legal differences are in the details
In addition to the contract of sales’ special regulations, the sale is entered in the Greek Land Register. The Land Registry has jurisdiction for specific municipalities. Unlike the German Land Register, for example, entries were previously named and not property related. The law introducing the Ktimatologio switched the previous name-based registers to a property-based Land Registry system. When verifying the ownership status, an entry is verified in terms of the name of the respective vendor and not in terms of ownership status on the basis of entries under the plot numbers. Because of this peculiarity Land Register searches by a lawyer are indispensable in Greece.
Buying property in Greece
The contract of sale
Greek property transactions are put into effect by concluding a notarized, precisely worded contract of sale. The object of purchase is described accurately, the sale price and when it is due stated, rescission rights and contractual penalties in the event of late payment and/or rescission of the contract of sale stipulated, as is contract implementation to arrive at transfer of title in the Land Register.
Exactly as in the case of German law, according to the Greek Civil Code change of title is effected upon registration with the Land Registry having jurisdiction for the real estate. Payment of the sale price or the residual sale price takes place at the same time as the notary’s record is drawn up and is established in the notarised record.
Payment of land transfer tax is a prerequisite for transfer of title, which is usually carried out by lawyers.
Real Estate Transfer Tax is imposed on any transfer of real estate against a price in money or in land This tax is levied on the price stated in the contract. However, if this price is below the objective value of the estate, the tax is calculated on the objective value of the estate. This tax is charged by law on the purchaser of the property, who has to pay, in full, the competent Tax Office which regulates the real estate prior to concluding the transfer deed.
As per the new tax provisions, the tax factor amounts to 3%.
NEW: From January of 2020 and for the next 3 years there is no VAT, new or old. Just a Transfer Tax of 3%!
Law no. 3427/2005 modified the V.A.T. Code (law no. 2859/2000) and brought about the imposition of V.A.T. for new buildings. According to the new tax provisions, V.A.T. at 24% is levied where a newly-erected real estate is acquired against a price and in money, for which building permission was issued after 1.1.2006. V.A.T. is to be paid by the purchaser- contractor and prior to signing the contract for sale in which case, Real Estate Transfer Tax does not apply.
Real estate property in Greece is divided into two main categories: real estates outside city building plans and real estates within city building plans.
Real estates outside city building plans are mainly divided into two further categories: agricultural land and land allotted by lot. Land allotted by lot refers to real estates granted by the Greek State as agricultural lots for the resettlement of farmers who did not own land. This system was introduced in order to cater for the incoming arrival of refugees into Greece from 1922 onwards, which, in turn, gave rise to the need to make use of such plots of land with the goal of developing the agricultural economy. Land allotted by lot is frequently larger in size and one of its most significant characteristics is the legal prohibition on dividing the land into smaller parts.
Agricultural land refers to real estates outside city building plans which are inherently used for agricultural exploitation and for the production of natural produce.
On the other hand, real estates within city building plans are commonly known as building sites. A building site consists of any ground which is within an approved street plan or within the boundaries of a settlement, even if the latter does not have an approved street plan.
In contrast to other legal systems, Greek law generally permits the construction of buildings in real estates outside city building plans. Depending on the type of building which is to be built, and its intended use, there are town planning provisions which allow for construction of buildings depending on the size of the real estate in question. For instance, in principle, it is allowed to erect buildings of up to 200 square metres on agricultural land of 4.000 square metres and above.
Naturally, far more flexible town planning provisions apply in the case of building sites due to the fact that their innate purpose is the erection of buildings.
There are two key concepts which must be taken into consideration when considering whether or not to acquire real estate property in Greece: ‘conformity’ and ‘fit for building’ (in Greek ‘artio’ and ‘ikodomisimo’). A real estate is conforming when, in accordance with its area and dimensions, it is possible to erect a building or buildings based on what is permissible according to legal specifications .A real estate which is fit for building is one tha thas the appropriate features required to achieve the best aesthetical, constructive and financial results. As a result, all the real estates which are fit for building in terms of size and dimension must also fit the conforming requirement.
Income Taxation from Rentals
All tax on an individual’s income in Greece is progressive. As of 2019, a Greek individual is taxed at a rate of 22% – 45%
Income scale and tax rates for employment, pension and business income :
Income scale (EUR)Tax rate (%)
0 – 10 000 9%
10 001 – 20 000 22%
20 001 – 30 000 28%
30 001 – 40 000 36%
>40 001 44%
Tax Rate of Limited Liability company PC (Called IKE in Greece) : 24% Flat Rate
More Info: the Private Company (“PC”) (“Idiotiki Kefalaiouchiki Etaireia” or “IKE” in Greek) in order to meet the growing need for a modern and flexible middle- sized company.
After three years since its creation, the Private Company may be characterised as a success with the establishment up to this day of over 9700 Private Companies since 2012 and a clear preference of businesses to choose this type of company over the pre- existing structures, according to an announcement of the Ministry of Development in April 2014.
GENERAL INFORMATION AND STRUCTURE
The Private Company is a company with legal personality. It is qualified as a commercial company, even if its object is not to carry commercial activities.
A Private Company may be incorporated by several persons (called “members” or “partners”) or by a single person and in such case it shall be called single-membered. The members may be natural or legal persons.
The capital of the PC is determined by the members without any restriction from the Law, as there is no minimum share capital requirement. The members may participate in the company either by capital contributions, non- capital contributions or guarantee contributions.
The PC alone is liable with its property regarding the company’s obligations, with the only exception of the case where a member participates in the company with guarantee contributions and thus undertakes a liability towards third parties for the debts of the company, up to a specific amount which is defined in its articles of association (“Articles”).
A PC may be incorporated by means of a private document, unless a notarial deed is specifically required by the Law (e.g. in cases where real estate is contributed to the company’s capital) or if the partners prefer so. The company acquires the legal personality with its registration at the General Commercial Register (“GEMI”), following the “One Stop Shop” procedure of incorporation.
According to the provisions of the Law, the Articles and any amendments thereto, to the extent that they constitute private documents, as well as any resolutions and minutes of the partners’ meetings, may be drafted also in one of the official languages of the EU. In the relations of the company and its partners with third parties however, the Greek text shall prevail.
The PC is established for a specific duration, which, unless otherwise determined by the Articles, is 12 years, and may be extended by resolution of the members.
The seat of the company is in the municipality determined in its Articles, and the effective management may be abroad. Furthermore, the PC may transfer its seat to any other member state of the European Economic Area.
Finally, within a month from its incorporation, the PC must create a website, featuring certain information prescribed by law.
The PC is managed and represented by one or more managers, which must necessarily be natural persons.
The Articles may contain provisions for the management and representation of the company, and unless otherwise provided therein, the management and representation of the PC is carried out collectively by the members or by the single member of the company.
The members may appoint one or more managers, and in case more than one are appointed, the managers act collectively, unless otherwise determined by the Articles.
The managers represent the company and perform in its name any actions concerning its management, the administration of its assets and generally the pursuit of its objects.
The managers have an obligation of loyalty towards the company and are liable towards the latter in case of breach of the Law, the Articles and the decisions of the members, as well as for failures in the management of the company.
The members of the PC have the authority to resolve on any corporate matter, and further have the exclusive competence to resolve on certain subjects enumerated in the Law.
Meetings may be held at any place provided in the Articles, whether in Greece or abroad, and the articles may provide that the meetings may be held through teleconference.
CAPITAL, CONTRIBUTIONS AND SHARES-PARTS
There is no minimum requirement in relation to the share capital of the PC.
The contributions of the members in order to participate in the company may be of 3 kinds:
– Capital contributions, in cash or in kind.
– Non- capital contributions, being assets which are not subject to evaluation (such as the obligation to provide services, for example), and the value of which is defined in the Articles.
– Guarantee contributions, being the undertaking by a partner of a liability against third persons for the obligations of the company, up to an amount determined in the Articles.
It is worth noting that it is not required, for the establishment of a PC, to have all three kinds of contributions mentioned hereinabove.
The nominal value of each share- part is at least 1 euro, and must be the same for all corporate share- parts, regardless of the type of contribution. A share- part cannot be represented by shares (in the sense of securities). The company may issue a document to each member for the share- parts that the said person holds, but such documents are not securities.
Unless otherwise provided in the Articles, there is no restriction to the transfer of the share-parts, with the exception of a member holding share- parts which correspond to non- capital contributions or guarantee, which have not been fully paid, and thus is not allowed to transfer them unless such contribution is converted into capital contribution and then fully paid.
The Articles of the PC may however provide for restrictions in the transfer or encumbrance of share- parts, and may also provide for rights of pre-emption.
The transfer or encumbrance of share- parts during the life of a member must be in writing and must be notified to the company. The managers shall then register the transfer or encumbrance of the share- part in the book of members, and as of that date it shall be opposable to third parties.
Registration at the social insurance organisation (EFKA) is compulsory for the managers of the PC and for the sole member, in case the PC is single-membered.
However, persons who are already insured in a public insurance organisation of another EU member- state may obtain a relevant exemption from the payment of the insurance fees in Greece.
The tax regime of the PC is the same as that applied to Greek Limited Liability Companies, and as such :
– Corporate Income Tax rate: 24 %
– Withholding Tax on Dividends: 5%
Before any distribution of profits, 1/20 of the net profits is withheld by the company for the formation of a reserve, which may either be capitalised or set- off against losses.
ADVANTAGES OF THE PRIVATE COMPANY IN RELATION TO OTHER TYPES OF GREEK COMPANIES
Zero capital requirements.
Quick establishment with minimum expenses (as usually the involvement of a Notary is not required) and simplified procedure.
Provided the Articles comply with the requirements of the Law, they may be drafted accordingly to suit the particular needs of a type of business as well as of its members, enabling the company to be shaped either closer to a partnership or closer to a Societe Anonyme.
Very flexible corporate form (meetings can be held through teleconference and abroad, any amendments and changes are made by a private agreement).
Corporate documentation may be drafted also in any official EU language.
Only the manager and the sole member (in case of a single- membered PC) are subject to compulsory registration at the local insurance organisation (as opposed to all members/ partners in other types of companies).