Brussels, 18 September 2008
Direct Taxation: The Commission requests Greece to amend its discriminatory tax provisions applicable to the acquisition of a first residential real estate in Greece
The European Commission has sent Greece a formal request to amend its rules which give permanent residents in Greece a tax exemption on the real estate transfer tax for their first residential property purchase, but do not grant the same exemption to first-time residential buyers who do not yet live permanently in Greece but intend to do so in the future. Furthermore, Greece is requested to abolish its discriminatory rules that, under certain circumstances, allow a real estate transfer tax exemption to Greek nationals living abroad when they are acquiring their first residential real estate in Greece, but do not allow the same exemption to foreign nationals. This request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the Treaty. If Greece does not amend its law within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice.
The Commission considers that the exemptions provided in the Greek legislation constitute a violation the discrimination ban, as well as of the free movement of persons and the freedom of establishment laid down both in the EC Treaty and in the EEA Agreement.
The Commission is of the opinion that Greece may accord more advantageous tax treatment to persons living permanently in Greece and purchasing their first real estate there, compared with those who merely acquire such real estate for investment purposes. This difference in treatment may be justified by promoting acquisition of housing and preventing or at least impeding speculations. However, the same treatment must be granted to all first-time residential buyers who intend to live in the property, whether they are already permanently living in Greece at the time of purchase or not.
On the other hand, the Commission considers that Greece discriminates against non-residents who are not Greek nationals in comparison with non-resident Greek nationals insofar as only the latter are, under certain circumstances, exempt from paying real estate transfer tax in Greece when acquiring a first real estate there.
The Commission's cases reference number is 2007/4319.
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