The lack of a Double Tax Agreement (DTA) between Australia and Greece means that Australian residents yielding revenue from assets in Greece can be taxed twice, unlike their counterparts from countries where agreements have been implemented.
When Neos Kosmos reached out to Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last November, a representative had said that the groundwork had been laid and announcements would come soon regarding this. In the 2020 Budget there was an announcement regarding the modernisation and expansion of Australia’s tax treaty network, however DTAs would require bilateral negotiations between Australia and each EU member state without such an agreement individually. However, a spokesman of Treasurer Frydenberg told Neos Kosmos that there have been no further developments on the part of the Australian government.
Greeks pushing for a DTA
Head of the Office for Economic and Commercial Affairs of Greece in Australia, Trade Commissioner, Katia Gkikiza, said that “all EU member states without a DTA with Australia had recently signed an official letter (addressed) to Australia’s Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, stressing the importance of giving priority to the conclusion of Double Taxation Agreements with the remaining 10 EU member states.”
Ms Gkikiza told Neos Kosmos that, on its part, the Greek government “has actively focused on efforts to reduce any remaining tax barriers within the country through measures such as tax reductions for individuals and businesses, tax incentives for investment, further digitalisation of tax services, and modernization of the legal framework for corporate governance. In addition, Greece supports the introduction of a double taxation agreement between Greece and Australia, which will further facilitate business cooperation and eliminate tax barriers between the two countries.”
The Greek Trade Commissioner to Australia is hopeful that a solution will come soon. “There has been an exchange of official correspondence between the two countries at the highest level, including letters between the two Prime Ministers, expressing mutual strong commitment to conclude a Double Taxation Agreement as soon as possible, and hopefully before the end of financial year 2021/2022,” she said.
“We understand that the issue of the Double Taxation Agreement is important for businesses, and especially for companies wishing to invest. And we would like to take this opportunity to assure these companies that they can go on with their projects knowing that the Greek Government is committed to the conclusion of the DTA.”
Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis has been pushing for a DTA, and wrote a letter to Treasurer Frydenberg on 28 July calling for the implementation of a DTA.
“It’s vital, because those of us who do invest in infrastructure in Greece are taxed in Greece and the money we bring to Australia is taxed again,” Mr Papastergiadis said, adding that the problem rests with Australia, not Greece, during an interview with Neos Kosmos in the past.
Tax Accountant Evan Binos, in a letter to Neos Kosmos, had said “the existence of a Double Tax Agreement will provide some clarity and assistance in relation to Australians who are considering investing in Greece, those who currently have investments in Greece that generate an income stream or even to those who have acquired assets in Greece as a result of inheritance.”
Trade with Greece
There has been a great deal of focus on trade between Greece and Australia with numerous Greek government representatives addressing the Greek diaspora of Australia as part of the Open Dialogue series organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney. These of course, are just part of aggressive efforts to facilitate trade.
“Greece and the Office for Economic and Commercial Affairs of Greece in Australia, have been actively promoting cross-border trade with Australia and informing companies about trade and investment opportunities through public events (videoconferences, webinars, product promotion campaigns, media articles, social media posts), individual assistance to companies (market intelligence, assistance to Greek companies interested in the Australian market, assistance to Australian companies interested in the Greek market, tailored assistance to Australian investors, organisation of B2B meetings), and finally through common action in cooperation with the EU Delegation (public awareness campaigns about the benefits of the Free Trade Agreement currently under negotiation, public awareness campaigns about high quality European products and European Geographical Indication products, including products of particular Greek interest such as feta, ouzo, etc),” Ms Gkikiza said.
A DTA, however, would further facilitate cross-border trade.