Worldwide: Italy And Greece Among Most Complex Places In The World For Accounting And Tax Compliance

Last Updated: 24 July 2017
Article by Carlie Bonavia

Italy is the most complex jurisdiction in Europe and comes in first place globally for 'tax' complexity, while Greece is most complex in the world for 'compliance.'

Italy and Greece are among the five most complex jurisdictions in the world for Accounting and Tax compliance, according to TMF Group's inaugural Financial Complexity Index 2017.

The southern European nations are 3rd and 4th respectively, behind Brazil, 2nd, and Turkey – 1st. Vietnam is in 5th place.

Leading provider of global business and compliance services TMF Group ranked 94 jurisdictions across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas; 1 being most complex through to 94 the least complex.

The Cayman Islands came in at 94 as the least complex place for compliance from an accounting and tax perspective.

In determining the rankings with its in-house accounting and tax experts, TMF Group used four weighted complexity parameters, considering the accounting and tax rules and regulations in different jurisdictions, and risks associated with non-compliance.

At 78%, Greece rates as the most complex jurisdiction globally for 'compliance' while Italy at 68% is most complex in the world for 'tax' complexity.

TOP 10 MOST COMPLEX JURISDICTIONS FOR ACCOUNTING AND TAX COMPLIANCE

JURISDICTION GLOBAL RANKING
Turkey 1
Brazil 2
Italy 3
Greece 4
Vietnam 5
Colombia 6
China 7
Belgium 8
Argentina 9
India 10

MOST COMPLEX BY EACH COMPLEXITY PARAMETER

Most complex Global average Least complex
Compliance Greece 78% 60% Cayman Islands 32%
Reporting Argentina 88% 55% Curacao 8%
Bookkeeping Mexico 84% 51% Cayman Islands 27%
Tax Italy 68% 48% UAE 7%

Commenting on the rankings, TMF Group's Head of EMEA Juraj Gerzeni said:

"Both Italy and Greece have very localised complexities. In Italy taxes are levied at a national, regional and municipal level, while in Greece taxes are divided into three categories: income, property and consumption tax.

"Despite measures to reduce taxation and align Italian accounting measures with international rules, the country still has some very specific requirements that contribute to its Index ranking. Greece meanwhile has an extremely complex set of tax rules that directly impact local accounting.

"Organisations can find it very difficult to navigate the many accounting and tax requirements in Italy and Greece. In order to remain compliant and reach their full business potential in these markets, it's necessary to work with in-country professionals that possess the required level of local expertise."

Key factors that increase financial complexity in Italy

  • Accounts must be maintained in Italian. It is acceptable for accounts to be recorded in English, provided they are compliant with the local general rules. Tax auditors could ask for accounts that are in English to be translated into Italian before submission.
  • Chart of accounts should be consistent with the financial template prescribed by the Italian Civil Code. Bookkeeping of all kinds including General Ledger and VAT books must be kept using Euro currency.
  • Insurance companies' inventory books and premium registers must be signed annually by their legal representative. Depending on the business sector, there could be more specific compliance requirements.
  • In some cases electronic invoicing is mandatory. For example, sales invoices issued to Public Authorities must be uploaded to specific portals. In the case of electronic storage of invoices, an electronic signature and stamp is required.
  • Taxation in Italy is levied at national, regional and municipal levels. Due to the number of separate taxes that taxpayers are required to pay, the number of reports and returns to be submitted (including those recently created for the purpose of mitigating VAT evasion and BEPS), Italy is also a very complex jurisdiction from a tax perspective. Considerable time is spent in dealing with the tax system.

Key factors that increase financial complexity in Greece

  • Whenever possible, in-country professionals will follow the 'tax accounting' principle so as to not have major differences between the accounting base and tax base. At the end of the year accountants are obliged to keep both sets of books and describe the differences. Greek accounting entries are never as simple as credit and debit, you must take into consideration the tax implications of each entry.
  • Greece has several layers of VAT and no consistency in the application of the tax.
  • There is a heavy administrative burden in Greece in order to administer and collect the taxes. There are various local tax offices divided into administrative areas, and in each of them operates one or more tax offices that are called 'D.O.Y.' For the taxation of each individual, the competent tax office for the receipt, processing and clearance of tax returns is the tax office of his/her area of residence.
  • Greece has special tax regimes which apply to shipping companies, airlines companies, coordination centres, real estate investment companies and mutual funds.
  • Due to the volume and the complexity of Greek tax legislation, it is very common for a taxpayer to be in breach of some tax provision, even unintentionally.

To download the full report please visit: tmf-group.com/FCI2017

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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