Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spanish tax advice that could cost you dear

As I am sure the whole of Spain knows by now the annual tax return season has just ended. The Spanish tax office (Agencia Tributaria or more colloquially La Hacienda) have issued some interesting stats about the tax campaign which I have summarised below. But before coming onto that, I must point out an error on a website popular with ex-pats ( which could have serious repercussions if anyone believed it. They say, in answer to the question “I am a foreign resident, I live in Spain and receive a monthly pension from England. Do I have to declare tax in Spain?”:

No. If you collect your pension in England must comply with tax laws of that country with respect to their income. Only people who have a job or a pension in this country have to declare that income in Spain.

This is absolutely incorrect as we describe on our website: Do I have to do a Spanish tax return?

Anyone who is tax resident in Spain – generally those living here more than half of a calendar year – has to do a tax return and declare all their income including income earned outside of Spain. The only exception is if this income falls below certain levels (see Spanish income tax rates 2011 for these) or if the overseas income is exempt from Spanish tax. There are few such exemptions, the most common being income from a “crown” pension (basically a UK government pension which is, because of the UK-Spain tax treaty, taxed only in Britain).

So I hope no one has read this kind of advice and decided they don’t need to do a tax return because they have no Spanish job or pension. If for example they are living off foreign savings (e.g. offshore bank account interest) it is highly likely that not declaring will come back to haunt them. It is also worth noting that all foreigners who become Spanish tax resident should declare in the first year of becoming resident regardless of the sources or level of their income.

As for the Hacienda’s stats (see Agencia Tributaria website), these revealed:

The average wage declared on tax returns was 22.596€. Given that the law paid do not have to do returns the average wage of all Spanish people must be a lot lower.

2/3 of taxpayers had wages less than 21.000€ a year. Only 3,8% declared gross salaries in excess of €60.000

There were around 1.5 million business declarations and 600.000 autonomos declaring

About 12.7 million declarations were made seeking a tax rebate and so far 6.2 billion € has been returned to taxpayers

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