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Value-added tax (VAT) — or Φόρος Προστιθέμενης Αξίας (ΦΠΑ), pronounced Fee-Pee-Ah — is 23 percent, 13 percent and 6.5 percent as of January 1, 2011, and all prices in Greece were adjusted accordingly.
An IMF-EU audit in November 2010 determined Greece had missed revenue targets, Eurostat revised the 2009 deficit upward to 15.4 percent GDP, and a third round of austerity measures were passed to raise VAT from 11 percent to 13 percent, and 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent. Pharmaceuticals and tourism services were dropped to the lowest rate, and the standard rate of 23 percent left ‘as is.’
The January 2011 tax hike marks the third increase in less than a year, with the first taking effect March 15, 2010 in hopes of averting foreign intervention and the second July 1, 2010, which was part of a package announced May 2, 2010 to receive the biggest bailout in history.
From September 1, 2011, all non-alcoholic beverages except plain water, and ready-made food from all outlets except schools and hospitals, will be moved from 13 percent to 23 percent, making it the fourth VAT increase in 18 months.
Greece has the third highest rate of VAT in Europe, second highest gas/petrol tax, third highest tax on social insurance contributions, fifth highest VAT on alcohol, highest property tax and one of the worst corporate tax rates, without the quality of living or competitiveness to match.
*Article last updated January 2, 2013. This article will be updated again when/if VAT rates are raised/decreased as part of ever-changing austerity measures.
What is VAT/ΦΠΑ?
VAT/ΦΠΑ is a consumption tax assessed to goods and services that are bought and sold, calculated according to a percentage of the sale price, and ultimately paid by the final consumer.
Member states are required to have a ‘standard rate’ of at least 15 percent until 2015, and may have one or more ‘reduced rates’ of at least 5 percent for qualifying goods and services.
For a detailed explanation, see the European Union’s “How VAT works.”
Timeline of VAT/ΦΠΑ in Greece
January 1, 1987: VAT/ΦΠΑ introduced to Greece by former Finance Minister Dimitris Tsovolas at a rate of 18 percent.
July 11, 2000: A ‘Code of VAT’ under 2859/2000 defines to whom it applies, when it is assessed and any exemptions. To be more ‘fair,’ it is proposed that a three-tiered system be used instead of one uniform VAT charged for all goods and services.
February 15, 2005: Amendments to ‘Code of VAT’ published in 3312/2005.
March 29, 2005: New Democracy raises VAT to 19 percent to defray cost of staging the Athens 2004 Olympics, which cost each household 50,000 euros. New rates are 19 percent, 9 percent and 4.5 percent.
December 29, 2009: Government considers upping VAT to 21 percent before the IMF and EU aid are mentioned.
January 13, 2010: Greek PM announced that the poor will be spared, no VAT increase.
March 3, 2010: First round of austerity measures include a 10 percent tax increase on March 15.
March 15, 2010: VAT raised to 21 percent, 10 percent and 5 percent.
May 2, 2010: In order to receive an IMF-EU bailout worth 110 million to help Greece meet debt obligations, a second round of austerity measures removed tax exemptions from a number of professions and imposed an additional 10 percent on all tax rates starting July 1. Three days later, three innocents die when Marfin Bank is firebombed.
July 1, 2010: New VAT rates of 23 percent, 11 percent and 5.5 percent take effect.
November 18, 2010: Third round of austerity measures was drafted to increase VAT on January 1, 2011 from 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, 11 percent to 13 percent, leaving 23 percent ‘as is,’ then moving luxury goods in the 11 percent bracket to 23 percent, and pharmaceuticals and tourism services to 6.5 percent. Rates for the Aegean Islands will be hikes from 4 percent to 5 percent, and 8 percent to 9 percent. Tax on tobacco products will increase by 10-20 percent. This was done after Eurostat revised Greece’s 2009 deficit to 15.4 percent of GDP and IMF/EU auditors determined Greece had not met its commitments, per the terms of the bailout.
January 1, 2011: New VAT rates of 23 percent, 13 percent and 6.5 percent take effect, according to law 3899/2010. Aegean Islands 16 percent, 9 percent, 5 percent.
March 28, 2011: Fourth round of austerity measures could include an added tax on soft drinks and an end to the 30 percent discount enjoyed by the Aegean islands.
May 31, 2011: Greece, EU, IMF reportedly agreed to lower VAT from 23 percent to 20 percent, and 13 percent to 10 percent — Reuters/Imerisia. However, the measures passed in principle on June 9 have been revised several times and nthing has been finalized.
August 28, 2011: Ministry considers doing away with 30 percent discounted VAT rates on Mykonos, Paros, Santorini and Rhodes, where residents are often wealthy and tax evasion is rampant. Scenarios to lower the high rate of 23 percent to 19 percent have also been discussed. — Ta Nea
September 1, 2011: All non-alcoholic beverages purchased anywhere are taxed at 23 percent instead of 13 percent, except plain table water. All ready-made, prepared or packaged meals bought anywhere outside of an educational institution or hospital are also taxed 23 percent. For an explanation, see “Food and drink taxed 23 percent in Greece.”
Many businesses use tax increases as an opportunity to raise prices, then blame the tax, much as they blamed the euro when it was introduced in 2001.
With the latest increase on food at restaurants/tavernas/cafes, Greece now has the second highest VAT in the EU for eating out, beating France (5.5 percent), Italy (10 percent), Spain (8 percent) and Portugal (13 percent).
What VAT rate applies to which goods/services?
Greece currently has one standard rate of 23 percent and two reduced rates of 13 percent and 6.5 percent. On all islands except Crete, there is a 30 percent reduction in VAT rates, which are 16 percent, 9 percent, 5 percent.
23 percent — Clothes, shoes, cleaning products and detergents, alcohol/wine, non-alcoholic beverages purchased anywhere (carbonated/flavored water, ready-made coffee/tea/hot chocolate, fruit/vegetable juice, sport drinks, granita, smoothie)*; ready-made or prepared meals/sandwiches from cafes, catering services, fast food and delivery, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, snack bars*; products, toiletries, barber and hair salon services, telecommunications (mobile/cell, land line, Internet service), electronics, appliances, CDs, DVDs, furniture, jewelry, plastics, paper products, school supplies, fuel/gas/petrol, cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, vehicle repair and maintenance, road and bridge tolls, use of sports/training/athletic facilities and events, building materials, professional tax/accounting services, artwork, recently constructed buildings (excluding primary residence).
*As of September 1, 2011
13 percent – Food at the supermarket and grocer (manavis), educational institutions, hospitals and clinics, social welfare organizations;
food from eating establishments/cafes/pastry shops/bakeries,* non-carbonated water without flavoring or sugar, non-alcoholic beverages, fresh baked goods and pastry from bakeries, eyeglasses, transport tickets (ferry, bus, train), electricity (DEH), natural gas, water (EYDAP); tickets for movies, concerts, circuses, zoos, exhibitions and other cultural events; equipment to serve the disabled, repairs on older homes (plumber, electrician, painters).
*As of September 1, 2011
6.5 percent — Books, magazines, newspapers, theater tickets, pharmaceuticals, hotel accommodation, self-contained apartment rentals and camping services.
Who should be issuing receipts and when
Who needs be giving receipts in Greece? Everyone.
May 1, 2010: Gas/petrol stations. Originally set for April 1, the date was moved to May 1 after protests.
July 1, 2010: Taxi drivers, kiosks (periptera), mini markets (psilikatzidika), mobile cantinas. Note that legislation was passed seven years ago that required taxi drivers to issue receipts by January 1, 2004; and the transport ministry in 2008 promised to fine ill-mannered drivers.
October 1, 2010: Farmer’s market (laiki agora) vendors.
Taxi drivers not issuing receipts can be reported to tourist police at ’171′; the taxi complaint hotline at ’1019′ was shut down due to budget cuts. All incidents can be reported to the tax evasion police squad hotline at ’11012′ or financial crimes hotline ’1517.’ Tips can be anonymous.
To learn more about what receipts you should be saving to file your annual tax return, see “Greece: Income tax and receipts.”
“Confusion over new VAT rates” — Kathimerini
“Κύμα ακρίβειας στο ράφι και στο εστιατόριο” — Eleftherotypia
“Tax rates on the Greek islands” — To Vima
“Σουβλάκια και τυρόπιτες με ΦΠΑ 23%” — Ta Nea
“Τα προϊόντα που ακριβαίνουν από 1η Σεπτεμβρίου” — Eleftherotypia
“Καλό μήνα με αυξήσεις παντού” — Eleftherotypia
“Αυξάνονται οι συντελεστές του ΦΠΑ” — Kathimerini
“Πρεμιέρα Ιουλίου με αυξημένο ΦΠΑ” — Eleftherotypia
“Από Πέμπτη η δεύτερη ΦΠΑ 23%” — Eleftherotypia
“Ανατιμήσεις φέρνει η αύξηση του ΦΠΑ από 1ης Ιουλίου” — Ta Nea
“Πώς ο ΦΠΑ τρύπωσε στη ζωή μας” — Eleftherotypia
“«Καύσωνα» ανατιμήσεων φέρνει ο ΦΠΑ” — Ta Nea
“Αυξήσεις και αποδείξεις” — Eleftherotypia
“Επιδρομή στις τσέπες μας” — Eleftherotypia
“Timeline: Greece debt crisis” — The Guardian
“VAT” — European Commission
“Call for traders to absorb new VAT hike” — eKathimerini
“Shoppers will soon dig deeper” — eKathimerini
“Taxi drivers see incomes plunge” — eKathimerini
“Coca-Cola and Intralot hint at leaving Greece” — eKathimerini
“Inflation rises to 13-year high with tax hikes” — eKathimerini
“Tax hikes take fizz out of beer sales” — eKathimerini
“VAT hike effective March 15” — eKathimerini
“Factbox: Greece’s tax reform to cut debt” — Reuters
“Ερχονται αυξήσεις ΦΠΑ και αντικειμενικών το 2011” — Naftemporiki
“Στον υψηλό ΦΠΑ δεκάδες προϊόντα” — Ta Nea
“Νέα φοροκαταιγίδα το φθινόπωρο” — Eleftherotypia
“Στραγγίζουν τους συνήθεις υπόπτους” — Eleftherotypia
“Greek tour operators welcome new tax break”(article removed) — AFP
“Μισή Φ(Α)ΠΑ από μετατάξεις προϊόντων” — Ta Nea
“Discussion of blanket hike from 11 to 23 percent” — Eleftherotypia
“ΦάΠΑ στο καλάθι της νοικοκυράς” — Ta Nea
“Not a VAT hike but “amended austerity” — Eleftherotypia
“Άρθρο 4: Τροποποιήσεις του Κώδικα Φ.Π.Α.” — Eleftherotypia
“Μειώνονται οι τιμές των φαρμάκων το 2011” — Eleftherotypia
“Με τον καινούργιο χρόνο οι νέοι συντελεστές ΦΠΑ” — To Vima
“Greece May Tax the Dead to Plug Budget Gap” — WSJ
“Greece has highest property tax in Europe” — Eleftherotypia
“Fifth highest tax on alcohol” — Kathimerini
“Challenge to 13% all inclusive tax submitted to EC” (article removed) — Ta Nea
* This article was created from and cross-referenced with a number of diverse sources in two languages, but please report errors if you see any.
Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”
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