Non-Resident Income Tax: What is it and why do I have to pay it?

As you may remember, I have referred to this tax in previous posts without fully explaining what it entails exactly. Here is a breakdown of the key facts of Spanish Non-Resident Tax.

The determining factor regarding what kind of Income Tax a natural o legal person pays in Spain is residence. Residents pay regular Income Tax (IRPF) or Corporation Tax (IS), and non-residents, both natural and legal persons, pay must pay Non-resident Income Tax (IRNR).

Who is a resident?

The first question to answer is who is considered a resident for tax purposes. This consideration must not be confused with the legal status of resident, which I have explained in detail y my previous post “Living and working in Spain”.

Natural persons (private individuals) are considered resident in Spain for tax purposes in any of the following cases:

  • If they remain in Spain for more than 183 days of the calendar year.
  • If the centre of their family/economic activities is located, directly or indirectly, in Spain.

Anyone who does not find themselves in either of these situations will be considered a Non-Resident Income Tax payer insofar as they obtain income or own real-estate in Spanish territory.

Income to be declared on real-estate in Spain

According to Spanish law, non-resident natural persons who own urban real-estate assets in Spanish territory, for their own personal use, rather than for economic activity or which are vacant, are subject to Non-Resident Income Tax for the income obtained from these buildings. To clarify, although there is no actual income received in these cases, a “fictional” income is calculated designed to reflect the increase in value that the owner is enjoying. The idea behind it is that you are able to rent your property and acquire real income if you so wished.

The tax base applied in these cases will be determined in accordance with regular Spanish Income Tax regulations and without deducting expenses of any kind. This means that income will be calculated as 1.1% of the rateable value of the property (2% if the rateable value has not been revised or changed since 1 January 1994).

If you are renting your property you will have to pay rental tax, but I will deal with this subject, and other types of Spanish property taxes, in a separate post.

Will I be notified I have to pay?

The system for collecting taxes in Spain is different to that in many other countries. Under the Spanish system you will not necessarily be reminded that you owe tax, it is your responsibility to make sure you are up to date on your tax payments.

However, this does not mean you won’t be caught for not paying your Non-Resident Income Tax. The Spanish Tax Authority is increasingly cross-referencing information to identify where there are

irregularities (including monitoring electricity consumption and Land Registry records, among other measures).

A letter may be sent to your Spanish address notifying you of your obligation to pay Non-Resident Income Tax. However, if you are not there to receive it, as many who are not residing permanently in Spain may not be, then the letter will be returned to the Spanish Tax Authority.

When do I have to pay?

The 31st December is the deadline every year, by which time non-residents must have filed their annual Non-Resident Income Tax declaration for the previous year.

Consequences of failing to pay

The main consequence of non-payment is that the debt with the Spanish Tax Authority will be held against your property and, as a result, you will have to be settled before you are able to sell your property, or before your heirs are able to inherit it.

In addition, you may have to pay late payment interest, as well as the appropriate tax sanctions, your bank account could be embargoed, and you could be caught by one of the Spanish Tax Authority’s anti-tax fraud campaigns.

 

It is for all of these reasons that we recommend that non-residents seek a professional and experienced fiscal representative who is in a position to make sure your taxes are paid on time, receive notifications on your behalf, represent you to the Spanish Tax Authority, inform you of changes to Spanish tax law and answer all your queries on the matter, as we are.

 

Gabriella Mary Trussler
Lawyer
4408 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Almería

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