Wooing high-income foreigners

The Finance Ministry is examining the idea of offering tax incentives to high-income foreigners who choose to relocate to Greece, based on similar regulations that are in force in countries such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

According to sources the ministry is processing a clause that will provide for foreigners, such as business executives or pensioners, who choose Greece for their permanent residence to get taxed only for the income earned in this country, while their incomes from abroad will be exempt. The tax rate will be fixed for them.

Should that clause be agreed upon, it will be incorporated in the Development Ministry bill for the “formation of a business-friendly environment, for strategic and private investments.” This bill, which will bring changes to the licensing system for strategic investments and investment incentives legislation, is expected to come to Parliament early next month.

The proposal regarding tax exemptions for foreigners will likely be added to the incentives for investors from abroad that the government is promoting in the same bill, concerning the speedier issuance of residence permits, as reported in yesterday’s paper. Investors entering the fast-track process with projects that the government considers “strategic investments” will be entitled to 10-year residence permits, to be issued within just a few days, according to the proposal the ministry is promoting.

Another clause provides for a five-year residence permit for third-country citizens who intend to acquire real estate in Greece worth at least 300,000 euros. This concerns people who have already secured a visa to enter Greece and aim to acquire a main or secondary residence here.

The permit can be renewed and the value threshold adjusted by the Finance and Interior ministers, while permits can also be issued for investors’ family members as well. This issue had reportedly been discussed during a recent meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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