A ten-year legal battle was won by the expats, but nothing has changed
Residents of Aphrodite Hills and Ha Potami, nestled within the scenic Kouklia village in the Paphos district, find themselves entangled in a longstanding dispute with the local village community council over alleged taxation discrepancies.
The heart of the contention lies in what residents perceive as unequal tax burdens between these expatriate-heavy areas and the native Kouklia village.
Member of the Aphrodite Hills Residents Association Ray Smith brought to light a decade-long struggle, referencing a legal battle initiated in 2013 by representative residents of Aphrodite Hills and Ha Potami.
Smith highlighted a 2017 court ruling that deemed the taxation policy of the Kouklia community council, and by extension the Paphos district office, unfair and unlawful, emphasising the need for rectification.
“The levy of taxation is an administrative decision,” Smith noted, echoing sentiments shared by the expatriate communities.
“Kouklia is effectively three separate areas, and both Ha Potami and Aphrodite Hills are described by the council as ‘tourist areas’.”
The heart of the residents’ grievances lies in the stark contrast of tax levies. According to Smith, while Kouklia village residents reportedly pay approximately €68,000 yearly, those in Ha Potami and Aphrodite Hills contend with taxes reaching approximately €700,000 per year. Smith alleged that despite several meetings and legal intervention, there has been a lack of progress in rectifying the taxation inequity.
Additionally, he highlighted the exorbitant water bills faced by the expatriate communities, which total around €300,000 annually, significantly higher than those incurred by Kouklia village residents.
community leader of Kouklia Michalakis Nicolaou defended the council’s stance, asserting that the discrepancy in taxes was due to property valuation differences.
“Properties in Aphrodite Hills and Ha Potami are notably larger with various amenities, thus necessitating higher taxes to sustain services,” Nicolaou said.
He also stressed what he deemed “substantial disparities in property sizes”, claiming that most residences in the expatriate areas measure over 250 square metres with amenities like swimming pools, which incur higher maintenance costs.
Moreover, Nicolaou highlighted the classification of these areas as ‘tourist zones’, reinforcing the argument for higher taxation to support the necessary infrastructure and services. He maintained that the council’s tax imposition was in alignment with the properties’ value and the services provided.
Smith rebuffed Nicolaou’s assertion, challenging the perception of property values between the areas.
“There are owners of mansions worth up to €3 million in Kouklia that pay less taxes than people owning two and three-bedroom properties in Aphrodite Hills and Ha Potami,” Smith countered.
Paphos district officer Mary Lambrou acknowledged the dispute, affirming the district office’s awareness of the 2017 court ruling favouring the expatriate communities.
Lambrou revealed that numerous complaints had been received regarding the taxation issue, stressing the district office’s directive to the Kouklia council to review the tax levies, albeit without tangible outcomes.
“We are doing everything in our power to make it right,” Lambrou asserted. “However, our efforts necessitate the cooperation of the Kouklia community council.
“The responsibility of collecting all the taxes falls on the local council,” she added. “We have been in communication with them about it, but we cannot collect the taxes for them, despite the court ruling.”
Lambrou also revealed that the district office has faced numerous challenges in dealing with the Kouklia council, describing it as among the most difficult entities among the over 100 villages and communities in the Paphos district.
Despite the district office’s efforts to address the issue, Lambrou emphasised the imperative need for cooperation from the Kouklia council to resolve the long-standing taxation disparities.
The stalemate, spanning a decade, encapsulates the complexities of taxation policies vis-à-vis property valuations and the provision of services.
While the residents of Aphrodite Hills and Ha Potami persist in their pursuit of equity, backed by a court ruling in their favour, the Kouklia community council’s stance on the necessity of differentiated taxation highlights the intricate challenges faced in reconciling these differing perspectives.
For now, the impasse between the expatriate communities and the Kouklia village council continues, emblematic of a nuanced tussle over perceived inequities in taxation affecting the lives of expats and locals alike.