Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spanish taxman says "Stand and deliver"

What an absurd song that was! Good fun video though. Certainly more fun than the tax nightmares that have been visited on innocent property owners in the Valencia province recently.

I read about this story on the Costa Blanca News website and am indebted to their reporter Tom Cain for his diligent reporting of this unpleasant situation which seems to be confined to Valencia at the moment. According to the article, property buyers are being hit with back tax demands, sometimes running into the thousands of euros.

Click on the link for the full story - Expats hit hard by property tax probe - but in essence it relates to the tax you pay on purchase of a Spanish home. This is commonly called "stamp duty" by expat buyers and does work like UK stamp duty except that the % you pay is higher - between 7-8% of the purchase price depending where you are buying.

Another difference with the UK is that tax avoidance is rife on property transactions where the sale price in the contract often bears no relation to the actual price agreed. This allows the buyer to save on stamp duty and the seller to reduce their capital gains tax liability. The difference is usually made up in cash and can run into tens of thousands of Euros.

The tax authorities have always known about this practice (it would be impossible not to being completely routine in some areas) but have usually been content to accept it so long as the declared contract price is not too much lower than expected market value. But in recent years some cash-strapped regional governments have sought to levy extra stamp duty on transactions they think have been falsely undervalued.

The article here talks about highly retrospective charges though running into the thousands with very little apparent justification in terms of valuations being too low. Hopefully it will be just something that applies to Valencia and will spread no further but it certainly should give property buyers cause to think twice before committing. Not exactly what Spain needs right now - another reason for foreigners to lack the confidence to buy property here.

See also on our main website - Spanish property taxes for non-residents


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