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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 04 October 2014
OPINION JOHN TRIPIDAKIS DIATRIBE DEAN KALIMNIOU 26 SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER 2014 Job done It is finished. At long last, and despite the naysayers, the obfuscators and the sceptics, the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria has overseen the demolition of a flaccid, tired and outdated structure, and in its place, presided over the erection of a strong, tall and mighty edifice that thrusts potently up towards the heavens, proclaiming to all and sundry in our cor- ner of Melbourne's CBD, our virility, fecundity and much more besides. With the air of an artist who has embalmed the poignant his- tory of an intensely human spirit in the magical spices of words, the president of the GOCMV has declared that the tower is open for business. In not only undertaking, but successfully complet- ing this long-needed task, the GOCMV has proven vari- ous things to the communi- ty at large. Firstly, that the second generation of Greek Australians (comprising the majority of the members of the GOCMV's current com- mittee), which is more in- tegrated within the broader Australian community, both socially and professionally, can harness a unique set of skills and networks in or- der to achieve projects that hitherto appeared to be un- achievable. It follows logi- cally that in this post-migra- tion age, the acceptable face of the Greek community as a whole to the broader com- munity must be one where second generation Greek Australians, for the reasons stated above, are prominent. Already, we have seen such prominence pay dividends, both in communication and funding and it is to the eter- nal credit and discernment of the members of the GOC- MV that they entrusted their organisation to a commit- tee that included Australian- born Greeks in the decision- making, rather than just a tokenistic capacity. In fact, such trust is historic in it- self, for the phenomenon of clinging to 'power' or 'posi- tion' when one has fast ex- ceeded their utility or rel- evance is so ingrained in Greek culture, and especial- ly the culture of the Greek organisations in Melbourne, that we even have an ex- pression for such persons, inspired by Greek mythol- ogy: ‘καρεκλοκένταυροι’, or literally, ‘chair-centaurs’. The construction of the magnificent edifice has caused a marked change in the structure of our broader community. Whereas previ- ously this was largely com- prised of disparate insu- lar organisations jealously guarding their own narrow interests, now our commu- nity is comprised of insu- lar organisations jealously guarding their own narrow interests, but coalescing around the GOCMV as its central pole. By being inclu- sive, actively recruiting the assistance and collaboration, not only of Geek organisa- tions, but also of the Greek business sector and inter- ested individuals, the GOC- MV has made the comple- tion of its tower an achieve- ment the entire community can feel it has contributed to,andhasastakein.Ina few short years, the GOCMV has thus gone from being a highly politicked marginal organisation that appeared to be more interested in guarding and/or promot- ing certain political ideolo- gies and perpetuating intra- communal strife, to becom- ing what it always should have been: a sophisticated organisation that can co-or- dinate and harness the re- sources of the entire Greek community in order to pro- vide much needed unity and cater to the increasing- ly diverse needs of a multi- faceted and ever-evolving Greek-Australian polity. It has done so because its fo- cus has not been the attain- ment of power or the use of position to bolster one's ego but rather, on people. It is trite to remind our- selves that a good deal of the first generation's useful energy was devoted to con- struction projects of vari- ous natures. In my youth I remember attending func- tion after function devoted to raising funds in order to ‘complete’ or ‘pay off ’ the ‘κτήριο’, and finally when such clubhouses were paid off, remaining members of committees would either consider this their own personal achievement and thus allow no-one else to participate in the running of their organisation, or scratch their heads as they realised that in focusing only on construction, they had let the sense of com- munity that had caused the endeavour in the first place to lapse, so that only emp- ty walls remained, lifelessly echoing the futility of the whole enterprise. This is not to belittle the sterling work undertaken by the first gen- eration, and indeed, it still bears the continued burden of much of that work at a time when the second gen- eration should have relieved it of much if it, but rather to illustrate a concerning phe- nomenon of second genera- tion disinterest and disen- gagement, one which the current GOCMV is doing much to arrest. Our track record therefore proves that while we are good at building things, we often build things to keep people out rather than let them in, or don't know what to do with them after they Headaches for Greek Australians with real estate property in Greece With this new law (En- FIA) that has replaced the older tax haratsi (collect- ed through the electricity bills), every person (resi- dent of Australia, Greece or wherever in the world) owning real estate property in Greece, is subject to this new law. Property includes the full ownership, the life estate (epikarpia), the remainder (psili kyriotita), the inherit- ance rights etc, in full ti- tle or in undivided interest (joint ownership) on hous- es, units, lots, rural proper- ties, parking rights etc, owned on the 1st of January of each year, irrespective of whether any income is generated/col- lected or not. This new taxation is over and above the already apply- ing and collected yearly coun- cil rates. This tax's calculation is a very complex procedure based on various factors, in- cluding the property's loca- tion, dimensions, age, face on the street(s), use, etc. Properties of substantial val- ue (more than 300,000 euros) incur an additional tax. The data base used by the Tax Authority for the calcu- lation of this tax is www.gsis. gr (known in the past as taxis- net), created through the Ε9 tax returns. It is worth men- tioning that if the E9 state- ment has missing informa- tion, then this could be to the detriment of the tax payer, since the Tax Authority will employ the most severe fac- tors. Eg.: if the E9 statement does not mention the floor on which the unit is located, then the highest factor of the 6th floor will be used (which is the maximum ratio). Another tricky part is the fact that all property heirs are taxed, irrespective of whether they have probated the Will/ Estate. So, even if an heir is not interested in inheriting the Greek property, he will still be taxed if he does not denounce the estate prompt- ly. This is of great interest to Greek Australians that have not proceeded with the re- quired legal actions for their inherited property in Greece. Non-action might create a tax obligation here. A tax reduction is provided to low income earners (less than 9,500 euros), with poor financial situation, owning property of less than 150 square metres and without debts to the tax authority. It seems that the thorough, fair and careful drafting of this new law leaves a lot to be de- sired. The many mistakes at the initial tax requests com- pel the Greek government to reconsider various provisions. New tax requests are an- ticipated by mid-Septem- ber. The tax is payable in 6 monthly instalments. Atten- tion is drawn to the prompt payment of the instalments. A two (2) month delay may create an additional raise of 12.73 per cent. As a final remark: property owners may modify/correct their ownership status with- out any penalties by the end of November 2014. At the time, upon receipt of the tax requests, prompt pay- ment should be effected, after they are carefully reviewed by an experienced tax ac- countant. * John Tripidakis is a Greek lawyer, currently in Australia representing the Greek law firm John Tripidakis & Associates. PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES.
27 September 2014
11 October 2014