BUSINESS

Property tax a heavy burden for Greeks

PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

TAGS: Taxation, Property

Greek property owners are among Europe’s most heavily burdened by taxes, according to a study by Washington-based think tank the Tax Foundation that examines the tax burden on ownership and its ratio to all tax revenues.

A few weeks before the general election, and while the discussion on overtaxation is growing, the Tax Foundation study, which is based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), illustrates that most countries both in Europe and globally have a particularly low ratio of property ownership taxes to total tax revenues.

Data analysis shows that property taxation in Europe averages at 4.6 percent of all tax takings. However, in four European Union states, including Greece, the situation is very different.

In the United Kingdom taxes on realty come to 12.6 percent of tax revenues, followed by Luxembourg with 9.6 percent, France with 9.5 percent and Greece with 8.1 percent. At the other end of the chart, Estonia collects just 0.7 percent of its tax takings from property, while in Austria, Lithuania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic the figure ranges between 1.3 and 1.4 percent.

The study also showed Greece has always been at a higher level than, or at least on a par with the European average. After 2007, when the rate in Greece stood at 5.3 percent against an OECD member average of 5.5 percent, the Greek ratio kept rising, to reach 8.9 percent in 2013, originally with the imposition of EETIDE – the property tax collected through power bills – then ETAK, and then ENFIA with its supplementary tax on asset ownership over 250,000 euros. This has meant an increase of 68 percent in the ratio of property taxes within just six years.

The lightening of the ENFIA load in 2014 by the government of Antonis Samaras reduced the ratio to 8 percent, before it rose to 8.4 percent under Alexis Tsipras’ administration in 2015 and eased to 8.1 percent in 2017 due to the increase in other taxes. The government has promised an average ENFIA reduction of 10 percent for this year.

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