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Accelerated VAT Refund Procedure to be Implemented Soon
The Greek Ministry of Finance has recently issued a decision announcing the acceleration of the VAT refund procedure. In accordance with the new refund procedure, the taxpayer will have to file the refund claim electronically with the Greek tax authorities' portal. The General Secretariat of Information Systems (GSIS), which operates the portal and receives the refund claims, will then perform a risk analysis to identify the cases where the tax office will need to carry out a provisional tax audit prior to the refund. Taxand Greece investigates the Ministry of Finance's decision and its potential impact on multinationals.
Tax audit is compulsory if the amount of a tax refund requested exceeds Euro 100,000. In this respect, the GSIS will send a file of the refund claims that need to be audited to the competent tax offices.
The process post-refund request should be as follows:
If no tax audit is required, the tax office should proceed with the refund within 15 days from the submission of the claim.
If an audit is required, it should be completed within 2 months from receiving the above file from the GSIS.
Following the provisional audit, if it appears that a full scope ordinary tax audit should be performed, the latter should be completed within 5 months from the submission of the claim.
The certificate for the taxpayers' entitlement to the refund should be issued within 1 month following completion of the relevant tax audit (be it provisional or ordinary).
Following issuance of the above certificate, the tax office should pay the refund within 15 days from registration with a relevant refunds book maintained by the tax office.
If the amount to be refunded is above Euro 300,000, the deposit will be made within 4 months from registration with the refunds book and following authorisation by the Minister of Finance.
If the taxpayer has outstanding debts, then the refundable VAT amount is automatically set off against these debts. It is important to note that payments of the VAT refundable amounts will be made according to public finance limitations.
In accordance with the new rules, similar procedure will be followed with respect to currently pending refund claims particularly in the case of claims already approved but payment of which is pending. Payments will be made in accordance with the public financial limitations, on the basis of a strategy program that will be drafted for the years 2012-2016.
The procedure to accelerate payments of the VAT refundable amounts has not yet been implemented. However, once implemented, it is expected to considerably speed up the time it takes to issue refunds that have extended considerably over the past few years.
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