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Tax and VAT regime for self-employed translators in Greece
Thread poster: Claire Soulié

Claire Soulié  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Jan 3, 2016

Hello

I am currently a self-employed French translator in the UK, where it is very straightforward to work out the nitty gritty of tax and accounting.

I am planning to relocate to Greece, where it is difficult to even access information.

Does anyone know :

1/ whether it is possible to work freelance in Greece without having to open a company (something similar to the "self-employed" status in the UK or to the "autoentrepreneur" status in France)?

2/ under which threshold it is not compulsory to pay VAT?

3/ what percentage of tax is charged to a freelancer's income?

4/ what is different from being a freelancer in the UK (i.e. will have to send paper invoices to clients? will I have to pay taxes in advance of the next financial year etc.?)

Any pointers welcome
Many thanks
Claire


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Accountant Jan 3, 2016

Even if you leave the UK you may still be liable for UK tax as well as Greek tax.

One option might be to remain "resident in the UK for tax purposes" - thus keeping your admin in the UK.

I suggest you consult your UK accountant about all the ins and outs of this - it may not be as simple as you think to just leave the UK and stop paying UK tax!

I have an Italian friend whose mother (now deceased) was American and the American tax authorities are chasing her because they believe she may be liable to pay US tax- even though she doesn't live there and doesn't work there!

You may find this link useful:

https://www.gov.uk/tax-foreign-income/non-domiciled-residents

You may also find this useful (British expats in Greece discussion forums)

http://www.expatforum.com/expats/greece-expat-forum-expats-living-greece/

[Edited at 2016-01-03 20:22 GMT]


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Claire Soulié  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 3, 2016

Thank you so much for your reply Tom.

Just to clarify, I am not trying not to pay tax in the UK - I am just eager to pay the right amounts to both the British and the Greek taxmen.

Best wishes and happy new year !
Claire


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I realise Jan 3, 2016

Claire Soulié wrote:
.....I am not trying not to pay tax in the UK


I realise that! I was just thinking that if I were to move back to Italy (where I used to live and work) I would try to remain resident in the UK for tax purposes, so that I had nothing to do with the Italian bureaucracy nightmare!


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David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
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The US are another story Jan 3, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Even if you leave the UK you may still be liable for UK tax as well as Greek tax.

One option might be to remain "resident in the UK for tax purposes" - thus keeping your admin in the UK.

I suggest you consult your UK accountant about all the ins and outs of this - it may not be as simple as you think to just leave the UK and stop paying UK tax!

I have an Italian friend whose mother (now deceased) was American and the American tax authorities are chasing her because they believe she may be liable to pay US tax- even though she doesn't live there and doesn't work there!

You may find this link useful:

https://www.gov.uk/tax-foreign-income/non-domiciled-residents

You may also find this useful (British expats in Greece discussion forums)

http://www.expatforum.com/expats/greece-expat-forum-expats-living-greece/

[Edited at 2016-01-03 20:22 GMT]



US citizens are liable to US income tax wherever they live.
So it's not the same story.
You can live abroad and have a company in the UK as a non resident.
The most interesting thing about this is that you don't have to pay taxes
at all in the UK. So it's kind of a tax haven.

[Modifié le 2016-01-03 22:34 GMT]

[Modifié le 2016-01-03 22:38 GMT]


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Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 04:10
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Don't even think about it Jan 4, 2016

Claire Soulié wrote:

I am currently a self-employed French translator in the UK, where it is very straightforward to work out the nitty gritty of tax and accounting.

I am planning to relocate to Greece, where it is difficult to even access information.



My advice? Don't even think about it. The current tax regime here for self-employed people is punitive, and you would also have to sign up for various other kinds of compulsory payment. I've lived in Greece most of my life, but under the current conditions I've been seriously thinking about moving elsewhere.

If you want specifics, here are a few to get you started. Self-employed people have:

1. NO allowable tax-deductible business expenses.

2. NO deductions for mortgage interest, pension plan or annuity payments, etc.

3. NO tax-free income allowance. Income tax is 26% of gross income annually.

Don't do it. Go somewhere else, not Greece. Here you will work and end up with nothing.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Stay in the UK for tax purposes Jan 4, 2016

Philip Lees wrote:

scary stuff, but credible


- which was why I suggested going to Greece - sure - but in such a way that you spend enough time in the UK each year to remain "resident in the UK for tax purposes" - and continuing to operate your business from the UK. Even though you may be doing the actual translations in Greece, you can still issue your invoices in English as a UK taxpayer, and receive payment into your UK bank account. THere is nothing illegal about that. I do it every time I go on holiday.

Very careful thought required before you take any action that can't be reversed or that commits you to dealing with a new situation you don't fully understand.

[Edited at 2016-01-04 08:35 GMT]


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Claire Soulié  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
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English to French
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Thank you Jan 4, 2016

Thank you very much Philip. That doesn't sound good.

I have been living in the UK for a long time and must admit that it was all very worry-free but the sirens are calling.

I am not so worried about the amount I would need to pay, but I worry about the bureaucracy / uncertainty. I am hoping that the price difference in the rent between London and Athens might cover some of the added tax I would have to pay in Athens, if it makes sense.

I know that you are not an accountant (the Greek accountants I have e-mailed 3 weeks ago have never replied to me), but if I were to earn, say 50000 euros p.a. gross, is it correct that my net salary would be 38500 euros net? Or are there some hidden costs?

Thanks again for taking the time to explain
Best wishes
Claire


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No reply Jan 4, 2016

Claire Soulié wrote:

....the Greek accountants I have e-mailed 3 weeks ago have never replied to me


I gather that is fairly typical.

One of the features of the UK system that people take for granted is that if you contact someone, they will reply. This doesn't happen elsewhere. In some countries, it all depends who you know, and a great deal of business is done "under the counter". People may prefer not to put anything in writing. e.g. in emails, because at some future stage an email may become evidence. Those Greek accountants probably don't want there ever to be any evidence that you asked them the kind of questions you want to ask.

There is nothing more onerous than trying to be honest in a country where nobody else is. I speak from experience in Italy for 20 years, where the whole administrative system is based on the assumption that everyone is trying to cheat, and for that reason obstacles are placed in front of you at every step. I went to Italy because I was in love with an Italian, but 20 years later although I still love that person, I would not have gone to live there in quite such a carefree, optimistic way. Many Italians strongly advised me against it but I had stars in my eyes....

[Edited at 2016-01-04 08:47 GMT]


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Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 04:10
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Not only tax Jan 4, 2016

Claire Soulié wrote:

I am not so worried about the amount I would need to pay, but I worry about the bureaucracy / uncertainty. I am hoping that the price difference in the rent between London and Athens might cover some of the added tax I would have to pay in Athens, if it makes sense.


I don't want to keep raining on your parade, Claire, but Athens is not a good place to live any more and it is likely to get worse. I lived there in the 1970-90s and life was pretty good. However, that was before the austerity measures led to the burgeoning of street poverty and crime. If you really insist on moving to Greece, pick a different place.


I know that you are not an accountant (the Greek accountants I have e-mailed 3 weeks ago have never replied to me), but if I were to earn, say 50000 euros p.a. gross, is it correct that my net salary would be 38500 euros net? Or are there some hidden costs?



You would certainly need an accountant. I don't even try to keep up with the complex and constantly changing tax legislation here. Apart from tax, you would be expected to sign up with the state insurance and pension fund for self-employed people, OAEE (used to be TEBE). I don't know what the current starting rate is, but it's probably something like EUR 400 per month. And if and when you reach pensionable age, don't expect very much because OAEE, like all Greek pension funds and the Greek state in general, is bankrupt.

Finally, you are quite right to worry about the bureaucracy and uncertainty. Two more good reasons not to move to Greece at this time.


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Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 04:10
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Honesty is not the best policy Jan 4, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

There is nothing more onerous than trying to be honest in a country where nobody else is. I speak from experience in Italy for 20 years, where the whole administrative system is based on the assumption that everyone is trying to cheat, and for that reason obstacles are placed in front of you at every step.


Just the same here. The current tax regime is based on the assumption that all self-employed people are concealing at least 50% of their income. As a consequence, anybody who isn't doing that ends up with nothing at the end of the year.

Keep in mind that Greece has a very different history from the rest of western Europe. For most of the last 2000 years, Greece was governed by one foreign power or another (Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans) and tax collectors, whose job it was to take people's hard-earned dosh and pass it on to the foreign oppressors, were viewed as they were in the Christian New Testament, i.e. grouped with the sinners - and for the same reason.

Many Greeks view the current situation as just more of the same. Over 2000 years of paying as little tax as they could get away with, Greeks have got very good at it. Unfortunately, I don't have that gift in my blood.


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Claire Soulié  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
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English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Athens Jan 4, 2016

Thanks very much for your reply, Philip

I go to Athens all the time, at least every two months for the past ten years or so and find it a great city to be - I don't feel more unsafe in the streets of Metaxourgeio than I do in Tottenham, that is for sure!

I would not expect any benefits from the Greek state (pension etc.), because I have private pension arrangements in London. The UK state pension is not exactly huge either!

One time I heard someone say that the countries that have good bread, don't have good governments and the countries who have good governments, don't have good bread. I think that this metaphor applies here - Greece has everything apart from a good government ; and the UK state is working well but the country is lacking a lot of the good things you find in the Med.

All the best
Claire


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree with Philip Jan 4, 2016

Philip - it's very similar in Italy, where it's common to hear people justifying their own dishonesty by saying "why should I pay all my taxes when I know the politicians are just lining their own pockets?"

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
UK state pension Jan 4, 2016

Claire Soulié wrote:

....The UK state pension is not exactly huge either!



Actually it's not bad if you've paid all your contributions up to the max. You can get nearly £500 a month.


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Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 04:10
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Different perceptions Jan 4, 2016

Claire Soulié wrote:

I would not expect any benefits from the Greek state (pension etc.), because I have private pension arrangements in London.



You would still be obliged to pay the contributions, as well as your private pension.


the UK state is working well



Really? That's not what I hear. Although I'm originally British, if I do decide to leave Greece, the UK is not anywhere near the top of my list of alternatives.


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