Greece: Notary Publics Face Dilemma Over 23 per cent VAT
All across Greece, Notary Publics are challenging the Pasok Government's decision to impose a 23 per cent, value added tax on their Notarial services from July 1, 2010, and want clarification on their constitutional status to justify the VAT tax on top of their fees. The tax is being levied to generate extra revenue to offset Greece's long term debt problems.
This is the first time the Athens Government is levying the fee which will obviously push up costs of using a Notary by a quarter from July 1, 2010. A notable addition when exchanging property contracts - a key service of Notary Publics in Greece.
As with the status of lawyers, those having qualified as Notary Publics are regarded as performing public functions, without which the state cannot operate properly. This status is the same as applied to lawyers in Greece. While the lawyers are on nationwide strike over the imposition of 23 per cent VAT on their services and have closed down all the courts in the country for nearly one month already, the Notaries for the most are still carrying on their work load. In the absence of support from lawyers, as most lawyers are on strike, the Notaries cannot function affectively, limited to simpler tasks such as witnessing signatures on documents etc.
The current Greek economic crisis has brought many issues to a head and the status of lawyers and notary publics is becoming a constitutional matter and cannot easily be resolved. But the bottom line Greece has to balance its budget.
See the separate story on the lawyers strike and its implications.
See also the impact of the EU lawyers directive on Greek legal profession.