Greece Approves Digital Nomad Tax Cuts, But People Are Skeptical
In the rash of countries announcing digital nomad and remote worker visas, Greece has been fairly quiet – until now. While some places like Finland are offering concierge try-before-you-buy remote worker programs and Hawaii is offering free flights for digital nomads (with a catch), Greece is trying something a little more direct: a digital nomad tax cut.
Greece’s parliament, headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, recently approved a digital nomad tax cut bill. Once in effect in 2021, it would cut the tax rate in half for digital nomads. This is all part of a new policy called “If you can work from anywhere, why not work from Greece?” The policy is aimed, as the name suggests, at attracting remote workers to the country.
The premise of the digital nomad tax cut is simple: you only pay half your income tax for the first seven years of residency. One catch is that the law only applies to newly settled digital nomads. You can’t have been a tax resident of Greece before, and you can’t take a job in the Greek ecosystem – it must be a remote job from elsewhere (or your own business).
The freelancer and digital nomad visa wars
As COVID decimated travel, remote workers, digital nomads, and freelancers are starting to become a golden goose for some countries. They see mobility – and the desire to experience new things – as a boon for mid-to-long term travel, which is precisely what a post-COVID world is likely to require.
Greece is by far not the first country to offer a digital nomad visa (that honor goes to Estonia, the first “digital country” in the world). However, it seems to be the first offering an explicit digital nomad tax cut. Other countries focus more on their lower tax ecosystem to start with, such as Abu Dhabi’s expanded freelancer visa.
Not everyone believes the hype
While many celebrate Greece’s approval of this new bill, people are skeptical.
In response to the chief economic advisor for the PM of Greece, Alex Patelis, one Twitter response says: “Good on paper and news, but try to do it… Tax office visits in person, beaurocratic [sic] system, no foreign Visa cards accepted on GSIS, and millions more.. oh and the assumption that our spouses speak and understand Greek so that they can do their own tax arrangements.”
Another says “Alex, what about people wanting to split their time between their current residence and Greece?? This is more appealing for many…”
Part of a bigger plan
Greece is not just trying to woo workers with a digital nomad tax cut. The country is also launching three other significant plans for 2021 and beyond: new urban development, internet access, and attracting wealthy people and companies.
The Hellinikon Project is a new development on the site of the former Hellinikon airport. The 1,500 acre land mass will be developed into luxury hotels, public waterfront, and other cultural spaces. On top of that, the country is set to launch a high speed internet access project in 2021, adding much-needed internet and 5g infrastructure to the country, according to Forbes. Further, Greek parliament is also tabling bills that would make the country a tax haven for international businesses and wealthy people to set up shop there.
If all three projects go forward with the digital nomad tax law, things could be looking up for Greece. The country already has a lower cost of living than many places in Europe. Further, the country is steeped in history. Finally – lifestyle: the beaches, the culture, and the people. People may be skeptical, but if the PM can pull this off, Greece could have a bright digital future ahead.
Since the law is only recently passed, details are not yet available. We’ll update you when they become public!