Thursday 27 May 2010

Latest Developments in the Phantom Tax Residency Certificate

Earlier this morning I received a telephone call from the Ministry of Finance in response to an email I sent on Tuesday.

After explaining the situation, I was put in touch with the director of the International Economic Relations. She started out by asking me how it was possible that my company, which is named “Navigator Consulting Group Ltd.” and is registered in Greece, can have the same name as another company named Navigator Consulting Group”, which is registered in Long Island, New York.

I spent 3 minutes explaining to her the fact that every country has its own corporate registry, and that for my company to register a corporate brand name in 260 countries and territories in the world was prohibitively expensive. She asked me, in an indignant tone “Does this mean that if someone else registers the name “OTE” in America they are allowed to?” I responded that yes, they were, insofar as OTE Greece had not registered its name first, that there were no other “OTEs” registered, and that this name did not conflict with the established laws of the United States.

I was then informed that because this was so suspicious, she had to request a clarification from the US Internal Revenue Service to confirm that there were no links between Navigator Consulting Group USA and Navigator Consulting Group Greece.

I asked how long this would take. She could not answer me.

I pointed out that I had, at her request, faxed her our Articles of Association (Καταστατικό), which clearly shows who the owners of Navigator Consulting Group Greece are, and that in fact our legal Greek name is Συμβουλευτικός Όμιλος Ναβιγκειτορ ΕΠΕ. This apparently did not count.

I asked her why this process had to be followed, if last year (2009 financial year), the Ministry of Finance already gave me a Tax Residency Certificate in a much shorter time frame, for my same company. There was no answer to this question.

I finally asked her why this process should be followed, since I was already declaring the income in Greece from my international contracts. The application form of the Ministry asks for the amount, the client paying the amount, etc. In addition, I included formal copies of our signed contracts. There was no answer to this question either.

My objective conclusions are that

a. The people working in the International Economic Relations Department have little understanding of basic aspects of international business, such as the registration of corporate names, trademarks or brands;

b. The contradictions inherent in the administrative process are so many that there is absolutely no logic or value to it.

This process serves neither the objective requirements of the Greek state, nor my requirements as a business person. As a result, I am closing the company here as fast as I can, and transferring our work to London.

There is absolutely no hope in this country, no hope at all.


  1. Philip, I've been following the postings on your tax situation and all I can say is that it's a shame. As a fellow Greek American who chooses to live and work in Greece, I'm finding less and less good reasons not to leave.
    I honestly hope that a solution for your company is found soon but this is utter madness.


  2. Thank you! It's definitely one of the defining moments of my life here. I'm sure the tax residency certificate will eventually come through. But my patience and willingness to support such a system is over.