Greece introduced a new Inheritance Tax law, known as Tax Law 3427 effective January, 2006 and has now taken further reduction in tax measures in 2007 and by January 1, 2008 the Greek state has all but abolished Inheritance Taxes altogether. In the article below specially contributed to Brits in Crete by noted international law specialist and Supreme Court Lawyer, Christos Iliopoulos, please note that its contents apply to anyone who has property in Greece and is entitled to an inheritance of a property in Greece. This is the same for Greeks and non-Greeks. The inheritance taxes that the Greek government imposes are the same for everyone. However, whoever inherits (who is the heir) and what share they are to get as the beneficiary is determined by the law of the nationality of the deceased. - Gerald, Webmaster, Brits in Crete.
Attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M.
Specialist in International and Business Law
Christos Iliopoulos, February 2008.
The government of Greece has taken a very bold step forward by abolishing (in effect) the tax which the vast majority of heirs have to pay in order to obtain ownership over the assets of a deceased person. The new law is effective from January 1, 2008, (in some cases from 13 December 2007), and results in a maximum rate of inheritance tax of 1% for relatives of the deceased who inherit properties (real estate) located in the territory of Greece.
In a summary, the first two categories (Categories A and B) include all relatives up to nephew and niece of the deceased, which means they do not include the cousins.
When a Husband dies if he has no will, Greek Law states that his estate passes to his closest surviving relatives. Greek Law states these are his children who share the estate equally. If any of the siblings are dead then if they have children they become the beneficiary. If the deceased died and is survived by the wife but no children, then she benefits half the estate. The other half is shared equally between the deceased brothers/sisters.
With a will if a husband dies and leaves a wife and children, the spouse gets one quarter of the estate while any surviving children share three quarters equally.
Beyond these simple facts it gets complicated as laid out above. Greeks must follow the rules as set out in Greek law. Generally, Greek Tax authorities respect wills of foreigners.
The almost non existent inheritance tax for the first two categories (A and B) of heirs is calculated according to the following rules: Heirs of Category A: They do not pay inheritance tax at all for the first 95,000 euros worth of assets they inherit. For the value of the real estate properties above the first 95,000 euros, they pay 1% inheritance tax. Example: A child inherits the 1/2 of his mother’s house located in the island of Andros. The house (and its lot) has a tax value of 150,000 euros, (while its market value is in most cases much higher). The child’s share is worth €75,000. This means that the child will pay zero inheritance tax, since the value of the child’s share is lower than the threshold of the inheritance tax free €95,000 of the estate, according to the new law in Greece.
Another example: A granddaughter inherits the 100% of her grandfather’s apartment in Athens, which has a tax value of €200,000. The heir (granddaughter) will pay 1% inheritance over the amount of (200,000 – 95,000 =) €105,000, which is €105,000 X 1% = €1,050 inheritance tax for an asset which is probably worth in the market more than €300,000! It is noteworthy that the surviving spouse, who had been married to the deceased for at least five years, is entitled to an inheritance tax exemption up to 300,000 euros. So, the surviving spouse gets a tax exemption of €300,000, despite the fact that the spouse is included in the Category A of the heirs, who normally get a tax exemption up to only €95,000.
Heirs of Category B: They do not pay inheritance tax at all for the first 20,000 euros worth of assets they inherit. For the value of the properties above the first 20,000 euros, they have to pay 1% inheritance tax. Example: Suppose that the heir (sister) inherits 1/4 of her brother’s property located in Tripoli, Arcadia. The property is evaluated by the tax authority at €100,000. Her share therefore is worth €25,000. She will not pay inheritance tax for the first €20,000, and her inheritance tax will in the end be 1% of the remaining €5,000, which is €50.
If the inherited property is shares of companies listed in the stock exchange market, the inheritance tax for the Category A heirs is 0.6% and for the Category B heirs is 1.2%, always after we have deducted the first €95.000 or €20.000 worth of shares. If someone inherits shares of companies which are not listed in the stock exchange, (after the tax free amounts are deducted) the inheritance tax for the Category A heirs is 1.2% and for the Category B heirs is 2.4%.
For other assets apart from real estate property and company shares, (cash in a deposit bank account etc.), the inheritance tax is 10%, after the tax free amounts are deducted.
If the heir has a 67% disability, he or she gets to pay €2,000 less from the calculated inheritance tax.
It must be noted that if the value of the inherited real estate property does not reach the thresholds for which the heirs do not pay tax at all (€95,000 for Category A heirs and €20,000 for Category B heirs), we can add the value of other assets (cash in the bank, company shares etc.), in order to reach the maximum tax cut. Example: A Category A heir (surviving spouse, child, grandchild, parent) inherits a house with a tax value of €75,000 and shares worth of €20,000. The total value of the inherited share is €95,000 and this heir will pay zero inheritance tax.
The inherited property must be declared to the tax authority in Greece within six months from the date of the death of the person who is inherited or six months from the day that the deceased’s Will was probated. However, those who reside outside of Greece have a time limit of one year (from the death or from the probation of the Will) to declare their inheritance. These time limits can be extended by three months, if an application is submitted on time at the Greek tax authority.
A very important parameter is that there is no inheritance tax at all, (irrespective of the value of the inherited property), for the heir who inherits assets of a person who died prior to January 1, 1990.
Christos ILIOPOULOS, Attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M.
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