The economic crisis and the unemployment it produced have led thousands of Greeks to seek work abroad, often leaving their spouse and family behind. These taxpayers submitted requests for change of tax residence in order to be registered as foreign residents and avoid being taxed in Greece for their income from their work abroad.
The tax authorities rejected such requests for change of tax residence of one spouse, arguing that their vital interests, namely personal or economic or social ties, remain in Greece (Article 4 of the Income Tax Code).
This practice was overturned by a recent decision of the Dispute Settlement Division (DSD), which accepted the administrative appeal of a taxpayer for the transfer of his tax residence abroad and, at the same time, the separate submission of a statement from his wife.
The DSD decision rightly refers to the ruling of the Council of State (CoS 1445/2016) in which the concept and criteria of tax residence were interpreted, accepting that the right to submit a separate statement exists not only for couples who decide to terminate their marriage but also those in which the spouse is a tax resident abroad.
The rationale behind the above ruling of the CoS reflects the social and ethical perceptions and trends of the modern era, according to which the separate residence of the spouses is conceivable.
In other words, the Supreme Administrative Court explicitly recognized the possibility for a couple to have a separate tax residence, recognizing the economic circumstances of recent years, which forced thousands of Greeks to seek employment abroad.
The recent DSD decision is particularly important because it examines the question of the possibility of transferring the tax residence of a single spouse abroad, which is a prerequisite for the subsequent submission of a separate tax return.
How to change tax residence
In practice, in order for a tax resident in Greece to transfer it abroad, one must submit to the local tax office to which one belongs a relevant application and supporting documents to prove one’s relocation.
The application must be made within the first ten days of March of the year following the year of relocation. The other supporting documents may be submitted later, in the first 10 days of September.
For example, if someone wants to change one’s tax residence for the year 2017, one will have to submit one’s application within the first 10 days of March 2018.
The supporting documents required include, in particular, a tax residence certificate of the country in which the resettlement took place or, if there is no certificate, a tax residence certificate or a copy of the income tax statement submitted to the other country, employment contracts, house rental agreement, etc.
In the case that a taxpayer does not work abroad (as employed or self-employed), a certified statement from any other public authority from which his residence arises should be provided.
The tax authority has to give its decision within two months of the filing of the supporting documents.
If the application for change of tax residence is accepted, the taxpayer is transferred to the Tax Office for Residents Abroad.
If, on the contrary, the application is rejected, the taxpayer is entitled to an administrative appeal as well as further appeal to the administrative courts.
G. Samothrakis, J. Panou
Posted on Sunday newspaper Kathimerini, 12/11/2017