War on digital nomads intensifies as Greece passes new tax law


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On Wednesday, December 2, the Greek parliament passed a new law allowing digital nomads to halve their income tax. This makes Greece the latest European country to attempt to woo the new work-from-home workforce and puts Southern Europe against the North in a new race for talent.

“If you can work from anywhere, why not work from Greece?” asks for a promotional document seen by the Greek parliament this week. Amid dreamy images of whitewashed farms and deep blue seascapes, he establishes a new law that allows newly settled foreigners to pay half of their income tax over the next seven years. .

From January 2021, the scheme will be open to employed and self-employed workers as long as they have not previously been a tax resident of Greece, or replace an existing job in the country.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government hopes the tax break will attract the newly empowered digital nomad “ to work from anywhere, ” whom Alex Patelis, the prime minister’s chief economic adviser, describes as “the person who spent three months in Thailand, two months in Jamaica, and so on. We want them to be two months in Greece, and why not? “

Her sales pitch doesn’t have to be taken home. The weather and the sea in Crete, Greece’s southernmost island, are still warm. A party the night before Greece went into a month-long lockdown on November 7 was abuzz with Covid expats escaping their own national lockdowns in darker climates.

“It’s much nicer here than in London,” says Christoph over a glass of raki. Originally from Germany, he moved to London to work as a management consultant, but left for Greece when he was not forced to return to the office in September. The internet is good, he says, even in Tris Ekklises, a small fishing cove at the foot of a mountain.

A tender for the 5G deployment ends in Greece this month, with coverage expected to be in major cities by early 2021.

“This place is a paradise, especially if you earn a lot of money,” says Taki Despo from her new home in Athens. He moved from New York after his company, design retailer Moro.com, allowed him to do his job as director of market relations from a distance.

Kate Silcox, originally from the UK but now working as a photo editor for GQ Dubai from Athens, has spent a decade working remotely from different countries, but believes she will stay in Greece from now on if she can save on taxes. “It would encourage me to fully commit and to settle there longer in Greece.”

Greece is hoping the tax breaks will entice more expats like Kate to stay. It needs it: Greece lost 800,000 people to richer countries during the worst years of its debt crisis between 2009 and 2015. It now hopes to reverse this brain drain with these and other tax breaks. .

A no-domicile law introduced earlier this year, a tax amnesty in November, and a family office-friendly tax structure slated for next year are aimed at the wealthier nomads. But Greece is already late for this holiday.

Italy’s brain drain saw 800,000 people leave the country between 2009 and 2019 as its economy struggled to recover from the global financial crisis. He also hopes Covid-19 and the tax breaks will help him replenish that talent.

In March, Italy’s “Lavoratori impatriati” law was amended to allow new tax residents to earn 70% of their salary tax-free during their first five years in the country. A non-domicile regime was introduced in 2017 and tax amnesties since then have encouraged the return of some wealth to the country.

Croatia and Estonia have also ramped up digital nomadic visas through their parliaments this year and a host of other such programs are already on offer in the Caribbean.

But the countries of northern Europe, which have benefited greatly from the brain drain of their southern neighbors, are now the losers. According to InterNations, an online community for expats, foreign workers now prefer warmer European cities such as Valencia and Alicante in Spain or Lisbon in Portugal, which were the top three cities in their country. recent study. London ranked 51st and Dublin 58th.

Move Hub, a relocation platform, has helped more than 6,700 UK households move to other countries since the lockdown in March. In Europe, Spain was the most popular destination, with Portugal registering the largest increase compared to last year.

This migration from the north to the south of Europe was driven by two things: technology and a pandemic, which pushed a professional workforce away from the office.

However, as new Greek laws come into force in 2021, both of these things will change. A vaccine can force some workers back to the office, and better technology could allow workers to literally be anywhere, so why Greece?

It will come back to the sun and technology, Patelis believes. “You can rent a really nice house in a really nice place for little money and you can have a really good life for a third of the cost of London.

“Come for the sun, stay for the taxes and the technology.”

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