New tax regime for the establishment and operation of family offices in Greece
Among the latest structural reforms that have been implemented with the aim to attract foreign investments and relocate skillful human resources in Greece, the Greek Government has recently introduced a “Family Office” regime for serving the management of the family wealth and assets of high-net-worth individuals who are tax residents in Greece.
In this respect, new Law 4778/2021 sets a transparent and straightforward legal framework that provides incentives for the establishment and operation of family offices in Greece, as follows:
The concept of family offices and their purpose
Family offices are special purpose vehicles that can be established under any of the legal forms referenced in the Greek Income Tax Code, except that of a non-profit nature, and whose exclusive purpose is to support Greek tax resident individuals and their close family members with the management and administration of their family wealth and assets which are held either directly or indirectly through legal entities in which they participate. The exact scope of the qualifying services is still expected to be defined upon the issuance of a relevant Ministerial Decision.
Qualifying members of the family office
Any Greek tax resident individual, their close family members (restrictively stipulated as their spouse, parents and unmarried/underage children) as well as legal entities in which the above individuals and their family members participate, are eligible to participate in the family office as members.
Conditions for the operation of the family office
The qualifying family office must meet the following cumulative conditions:
- It must employ at least five (5) employees within a period of twelve (12) months from its establishment and on an ongoing basis; it is noted that any individuals that are members of the family office cannot be employed by the family office.
- It must incur annual expenses of at least Euro 1,000,000;
For the provision of the supporting management and administration services, the qualifying family office may, apart from employing personnel, also assign the provision of said services to third parties, regardless of their place of establishment, with the reservation of the relevant restrictions stipulated by the Greek Income Tax Code regarding the deductibility of expenses paid to individuals or legal persons that are tax residents in a non-cooperative state or in a state with a preferential tax regime.
Calculation of the taxable income
The gross income of the family office deriving from the provision of the qualifying services shall be determined on a cost plus 7% basis, with said profit mark-up being applied on all expenses and their depreciation, with the exception of the income tax expense, similarly to what applies for the commercial and industrial companies falling under the L. 89/67 special regime.
The taxable income of the family office shall be therefore determined following the deduction from the gross income of all costs on which the 7% mark-up has been applied, provided of course that such costs are evidenced by the supporting documentation that is required by Law 4308/2014. The taxable income of the family office will be subject to the corporate income tax rate (currently at 24%).
If for any reason the revenue of the family office as recorded in its accounting books is higher than the revenue determined on the basis of the abovementioned cost plus method, the revenue recorded in the accounting books will be the one taken under consideration.
Other than the above special provisions, it is explicitly stated that the general provisions of the Greek Income Tax Code for the submission of the income tax return of legal entities, the payment of the corporate income tax as well as the withholding tax obligations for payments made by the person liable to withhold, apply equally for the family offices.
Moreover, in the absence of any special provision/exemption on the tax treatment of the dividends to be distributed by the family office to its shareholders or the special solidarity contribution, it appears that no such tax exemption applies as the regime currently stands.
By the addition of a new provision in the Greek VAT Code, it is explicitly stipulated that the “internal transactions” effected between the family office and the persons that participate in the family office are considered to be transactions effected within one and the same entity and are outside the scope of VAT.
Further clarifications would be expected as to the nature and scope of the “internal transactions”, the impact on the family office’s possibility of any VAT recovery on its expenses as well as the compatibility of the provision with the EU VAT law.
The family office regime is effective for the tax year 2021 and onwards.
Suggested amendments to render the family office regime more attractive
- The scope of the family office regime could be extended so as to include not only Greek but also foreign tax residents, a larger number of family generations that can be served by the family office and to also cover multi-family offices that can serve more than one families.
- The scope of the service recipients could be extended to cover any legal entity that holds family assets and not only legal entities that are members of the family office.
- The minimum annual expenditure of Euro 1,000,000 could be reduced, making the Greek family office regime more attractive than it currently appears to be, compared to more favorable family office regimes of other jurisdictions.
- An explicit exemption/protection from the rule that determines the tax residency of a company based on the place of effective management would add legal certainty on the new provisions, tackling the risk of the management activities of the family office having any impact on the tax residency status of the non-resident companies holding the family assets under management.