Corporate taxation in Greece is burdensome and anti-competitive, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) says in a report published on Thursday, stressing that Greek taxes also fail to draw revenues above the average rate of other European countries that as a rule have lower corporate taxation.
According to SEV, the real tax load on corporations has increased considerably, with income tax reverting to the 2006 level plus the income on revenues from dividends: Today income tax comes to 29 percent, the tax on dividends to 15 percent, the solidarity levy to 10 percent and social security contributions for board members to 26.7 percent. This amounts to 81 percent of profit distribution, SEV said.
The federation’s analysts argue that profit taxation is above the European Union average and definitely higher than neighboring states that are Greece’s direct rivals within the bloc. If one adds board members’ social security contributions, then Greece has the highest corporate taxes by far, being the only country to have increased its tax sum since 2000, at a time when other states have been reducing the burden.
SEV goes on to note that the tax rates are the just tip of the iceberg. The report focuses on the overall framework of corporate taxation that does not allow enterprises to grow and improve their competitiveness in international markets.
The federation highlights six specific problems in the corporate tax framework:
- The option of offsetting losses against future profits in Greece is for just five years, against at least 10 years in most EU states;
- Other countries have special incentives through tax exemption on expenditure, which in Greece are particularly limited;
- There is no framework for favorable regulations and incentives for mergers and acquisitions, which would encourage the streamlining and expansion of companies and reduce bad loans;
- There are no incentives such as accelerated amortization for new investments on equipment, which SEV calculates would have been fiscally neutral;
- Greek amortization rates are noncompetitive, particularly concerning investments in machinery and other equipment, forcing Greek firms to amortize their equipment slowly;
- Finally, Greece retains anachronistic levies such as stamp duty.