Car tax drives Greece to court

The European Commission yesterday decided to send Greece to the European Court of Justice for taxing the cars of citizens of other EU countries moving to Greece or of Greeks returning home, in violation of a 20-year-old directive. «A series of complaints to the Commission and a number of petitions lodged with the European Parliament revealed that the Greek authorities are not applying Directive 83/183/EEC properly with regard to cars and that this is causing many problems for European citizens,» the Commission said. «Instead of granting the tax exemption for cars laid down in the directive, Greece currently taxes cars brought into Greece by individuals moving to Greece from another member state at a rate of one fifth (20 percent) of the tax normally paid before a car can be put on the road in Greece. Furthermore, only one car per family qualifies for the reduced rate, whereas the directive stipulates that an exemption should apply to every car actually used in the former country of residence by any member of the family transferring his normal residence to another member state,» the Commission said. Greeks living in other EU countries are considered residents of Greece and charged full tax on their cars when they return, as authorities say the directive does not apply to them. In contrast, the authorities demand of non-nationals that they present long-term residence permits for Greece. «However, such a residence permit often takes more than six months to obtain,» the Commission noted. «Instead of attributing this delay to their own officials, the Greek authorities attribute it to the persons concerned by prohibiting them from using their vehicles for more than six months or even by impounding vehicles on the grounds that no tax has been paid on them.»

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