The Council of State ruled late Tuesday that the government has wrongly neglected to adjust the “objective values” of properties, which are used for taxation purposes, to market rates since May. This failure on the part of the state had led to Greeks having to pay much higher taxes during property transactions than they would have had the objective values been changed in accordance with the market value of their real estate. However it is not at all certain the government will rush to comply with the ruling.
The plenary of the country’s highest administrative court ruled that the government should have adjusted the objective values on May 21, accepting the case brought by a number of owners who protested at being taxed at rates that have not been adjusted to market prices since 2007, before the financial crisis began.
The decision is supposed to put pressure on the government to adjust the objective values immediately, which should reduce the taxes to be paid in most property transactions, as property values have declined by about 40-45 percent across the country over the last eight years.
However, the government has already ignored one CoS ruling to that effect, as the court had decided in November 2014 that the objective values should be adjusted in the first half of 2015. Ignoring that decision, in its agreement with the creditors in August, the government included a provision that the harmonization of objective values with market rates would take place in January 2017.
The verdict paves the way for claims by taxpayers who have bought or sold property since May 21. The tax authorities may then be forced to return some of the tax paid.
The ruling will not affect the Single Property Tax (ENFIA), as the government has committed itself to collecting 2.65 billion euros from this source anyway, so if the objective values go down the tax rates will go up to meet the revenues target.
It would also appear that the Finance Ministry was aware of the decision, as minister Euclid Tsakalotos signed four decisions on November 27 to set up committees to adjust the objective values in Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patra.