Understanding tax in Spain is essential, not just if you live here, but also if you own property in Spain.
The Spanish tax year runs from 1st of January to 31st December. Residents have to complete their income tax return, declaracion de la renta, by 30th of June the following year, and non-residents have until 31st December.
Spain has a double taxation treaty with the UK, which means you can avoid getting taxed twice on the same income.
Resident or Non-Resident for Tax in Spain?
You are considered to be tax resident in Spain if any of the following apply:
- You have spent more than 183 days in Spain within a single calendar year
- Your main economic activity is in Spain, e.g. you are employed or self employed, run a business or company in Spain
- Your spouse or dependent children live in Spain
It is important to understand whether you are classed as resident for tax purposes in Spain, as Spanish tax residents are required to pay income tax on their worldwide income. Non-residents on the other hand are only required to pay tax on income arising in Spain, e.g. rental income from a Spanish holiday home.
Taxes Which Apply to both Residents & Non-Residents
The following taxes apply to both residents and non residents, albeit with varying application rates, allowances and exemptions.
This tax is known as ISD in Spain, ‘Impuesto de Sucesiones y Donaciones’, and applies to gifts, as well as inheritance.
Anyone who inherits, or who is gifted assets or rights in Spain, is liable to pay ISD, whether they reside in Spain or not.
The liabilities are different depending on the inheritors residency status:
A residents liability arises under a personal obligation on the basis that they are a fiscal resident and tax payer in Spain.
Non-residents are liable under a real obligation, where assets or rights inherited/gifted are in Spain, e.g. a house.
This tax is calculated on declared worldwide assets owned. There is a tax-free allowance of €700,000 for both residents and non-residents, and Spanish residents, get an additional €300,000 allowed for their primary residence in Spain.
The actual rate of tax varies from one autonomous region to the next, and is progressive, typically ranging from 0.2% up to a 2.5% depending on the total value of the worldwide assets. Some regions top rates are higher, Andalucia has the highest top rate of Wealth Tax in Spain at 3.03%.
Some assets are exempt from the wealth tax, for example, small owner managed companies and certain types of family businesses and business assets.
Capital Gains Tax
Persons resident in Spain for tax purposes are required to pay capital gains tax on the disposal of any worldwide assets.
Non-residents only pay tax on gains made on the sale of property or assets physically located in Spain.
Non-Resident Specific Tax in Spain
Aside from Capital Gains, Wealth and Inheritance Taxes, non residents must pay tax on any income that arises in Spain. Income tax for non-residents is charged at a fixed rate of 19% if you are a resident in an EU or EEA country, and for non-residents from the rest of the world the rate is 24%.
Income Tax on Property
If you own a property in Spain and earn rental income from it, then this has to be declared. What many non-resident owners of property in Spain are not aware of, is that they are also required to pay tax, regardless of whether the property is let out or not!
This tax is often referred to as an imputed income tax. Spanish tax legislation for some reason assumes that a non-resident owner derives some sort of benefit from owning property, whether true or not, and provides for system to tax it.
How Is Non-Resident Property Tax Calculated?
The tax is calculated using the cadastral value of the property. The tax base is either 2% or 1.1% if the cadastral value has been revised since 1st January 1994.
Cadastral value of property (pre 1994) = €300,000
Base = €6,000
Tax (EU/EEA resident = 19% x €6,000 = €1,140
For tax purposes couples or joint owners will be treated as separate taxpayers and be required to file separate tax returns. Property tax can therefore be split among co-owners.
Resident Tax in Spain
For residents, income falls into two main categories for tax purposes, income from:
- general activities of employment, and
- savings or investments
The total income from each category is classed as the base, after which deductions and allowances can be made.
Tax on general income
Spanish tax residents will be taxed on all worldwide income which is not included as part of the savings income. This includes income from employment (i.e. salary), pension, rent etc.
The Spanish income tax is made up of two parts, a national tax and a regional tax. Typically the split is 50/50, however there may be regional variations.
Tax on income from savings
For residents, other income that does not fall into the general income category, savings tax applies. This covers all savings or investments, regardless of where the savings are, and includes:
- Interest from savings
- Dividend payments
- Payments from life assurance policies
- Income from annuities
- Gains made from the disposal or transfer of assets
The rates for tax on income from savings are:
- up to €6,000: 19%
- from €6,000 to €50,000: 21%
- over €50,000: 23%
Personal Tax Allowance
If you are a Spanish tax resident you will receive a personal allowance for your Spanish income tax. Unlike in the UK where this personal allowance rises year on year, in recent years, the allowance been reduced in Spain.
There is a basic personal allowance for people under 65 and thereafter the allowance rises. It increases again from age 70.
Other allowances include married couple allowance, child allowance, which increases with the number of children that you have and disability allowance.
Tax on UK Pensions in Spain
The requirement for resident in Spain to pay tax on worldwide income extends to UK pensions.
There are some exceptions, namely state and crown pensions, which UK claims tax on first. The double taxation agreement means that you will only pay tax in Spain, if the Spanish rate of tax is higher than UK.
The tax regime in Spain, for pensioners and pension income is in many circumstances more favourable than that in the UK. So apart from the fact that anyone living in Spain should be contributing to the system in Spain, someone living here and paying UK tax on their pension could well find themself paying less tax in Spain!
Declaring Overseas Assets
Anyone who lives in Spain and who own assets overseas of €50,000 or more, is by law obliged to declare them. Whilst this is not direct reporting for tax purposes, the law behind it is aimed at reducing tax evasion. It’s not specifically aimed at expats, but for obvious reasons, expats are a more likely to have assets overseas and therefore get caught up in the legislation.
Read more about Declaring Overseas Assets
Questions About Tax in Spain
Whilst the above provides a general overview of tax in Spain, it may also raise lots of questions if you are an expat or non-resident property owner in Spain.
When it comes to tax, everyone’s situation is different, and therefore, other than for very basic questions, you should seek answers from a relevant and suitably qualified person who can give you an opinion having reviewed and understood your situation.
If your financial set up tranverses more than one jurisdiction, then you should always make sure that the professionals you speak to are versed in both.
We can answer your questions about tax in Spain and offer a free review and consultation with tax, financial and legal specialists in Spain and the UK. We welcome your call – (+34) 951 77 55 44 / (+44) 033 0001 0777
Need a hand with your declaracion de la renta? Use our Personal Tax Return Made Easy™ Service.