We first published this article around this time last year. At that time Brexit had finally just ‘been done’, and the transition period begun. In the prior 18 months to 2 years there had been a scramble amongst Brits to formalise and secure their Spanish resident status. That scramble only intensified through the next twelve months, to almost a crescendo in the last months of 2020, with unprecedented numbers of Brits applying for Spanish residency.
Considering the tax related queries we have also been receiving, it’s clear that for quite a few, Brexit made the main priority simply getting residency with the formal side of residency, put to one side or overlooked completely.
So we’ve refreshed and republished this article and it will hopefully provide answers to most general questions that you may have about tax in Spain, if you’ve recently taken up residency in Spain.
Understanding and planning fiscal residency and Spanish tax is of course important. Tax in Spain is very different to the UK, which is why we provide information about it, and offer consultation on Spanish taxation along with our residency services. This helps our clients understand and plan this part of their transition to full-time Spanish residency.
Here we provide an overview of the tax related requirements and key points that most need to consider when becoming resident in Spain.
Tax related requirements once you’ve taken up residency in Spain
There are lots of things to consider when taking up residency in Spain, and where tax is concerned, the starting point is understanding all the differences Spanish resident status brings with it.
You are generally liable to pay taxes in the country in which you reside. This means that once you have taken up residency in Spain, you will be subject to Spanish taxation. The obligation to pay taxes in Spain arises when you meet the residency measure based on the 183 day rule. This responsibility applies regardless of whether you have registered as a resident or not.
As a resident in Spain you are liable to pay tax on:
- General income
- Interest on savings and investments
- Capital gains on sale of assets
- Wealth (if your total wealth is €700k or more – €1m including allowance for family home)
- Gifts and inheritance
Spanish residents must also declare assets they own outside of Spain such as:
What do you need to do after becoming a Spanish resident
Individual circumstances are of course all different. It’s therefore important to know the key things that apply and need to be done in your own personal situation.
Generally speaking, when you change residence from one country to another, in most cases there is, or should be an element of financial and tax planning.
Basic planning begins with knowing the taxes that will apply, the returns that need to be done, and when. Then it’s a case of getting a clear picture of how these will apply in your situation, and the implications so you can plan accordingly.
The following is a summary of the Spanish key tax dates and when they apply according to when you became resident.
Spanish Tax Return Deadlines
Non resident property tax Modelo 210 – 31st December following year (e.g. 2020 must be submitted by end of 2021)
Overseas assets declaration Modelo 720 – 31st March the year after becoming resident
Income tax return Modelo 100 – 30th June the year after becoming resident
What returns need to be done and when?
If you took up residency in 2018, by now (if applicable) you should have completed your Overseas Assets Declaration and first Income Tax Return in Spain. If you have assets and income to report, but haven’t, we recommend you seek advice.
Anyone who was not resident and owned a property in 2019, should have completed their non resident tax return (Modelo 210) for that year by the 31st December 2020. If you were a non-resident property owner in 2019 and haven’t done your non resident tax return for 2019, you should do so as soon as possible to avoid increased penalties.
New Residents 2019
If you took up residency / became resident in Spain in the first half of 2019, you will be deemed tax resident in Spain for 2019, and should have completed a tax return in June 2020. You should also have submitted an overseas assets declaration (Modelo 720) in March 2020, if you owned assets outside of Spain, of value €50k or more.
For a person that took up residency in the second half of 2019, last year, 2020, was their first fiscal year in Spain. If they owned property, they should have completed a non resident property tax return for 2019 before the end of December 2020. If applicable the Modelo 720 is due by the end of March this year. Some would say this should have been done in March 2020, it depends on interpretation of becoming resident, i.e. is it the when registering as a resident, or when you become a fiscal resident? Income tax returns are due by the end of June. Anyone not aware of this, or who hasn’t looked into this or started planning, should do so now.
New Residents 2020
Anyone who became resident in Spain in the first half of 2020, will be deemed tax resident in Spain for 2020. If property owners, they should have completed a non resident property tax return for 2019 last year. The Overseas Assets declaration, Modelo 720, is due by the end of this March and income tax returns by end of June. As above anyone not aware of this, or who hasn’t looked into this or started planning, should be doing this now.
If you took up residency in the second half of 2020, then this year, 2021, is your first fiscal year in Spain. If applicable, your will need to complete a non resident property tax return for 2020 before the end of this year. Overseas Assets Declaration can be completed this year if applicable, however income tax returns won’t be due until June 2022.
Anyone in this scenario, should be taking advantage of the fact that they have time to plan, and fully understand their tax position as a Spanish resident.
What are the differences between UK taxation and tax in Spain?
Tax in Spain has a general reputation of being excessive compared to the UK. This is not surprising if for example you compare income tax. The basic income tax allowance in Spain is €5,550 vs £12,500 in the UK, and the tax rate rises to 30% as soon as your taxable income reaches €20,200. These are clearly negative differences.
There are however also many positive differences. For example, in a family with 4 children, the parents each get a €19,100 tax allowance. Rental income from a residential property also has a massive 60% reduction applied before it is taxed, and the top rate of tax on dividends in Spain is 24% versus 38.1% in the UK.
We aren’t going to list every difference in this article, and the above examples illustrate that the differences aren’t necessarily all negative. How it works out for each individual taking up residency in Spain, depends on their situation and how they plan and prepare for their transition to being a Spanish tax payer.
Planning for tax in Spain before taking up residency
Contrary to perception Spanish taxation is often not as bad as many thought, or were lead to believe that it would be. The reality is that if you become resident in Spain, you are liable to pay tax in Spain.
Rather than avoid the matter as many do, anyone who’s just moved over, taken residency this year or is planning to, should be considering the fiscal aspects of their transition and getting ready for Spanish taxation.
By taking time to plan, it is possible to minimise potential Spanish tax exposure, limit it, or at very least fully understand it.
We recommend anyone moving to Spain to follow these 5 steps:
Simple Steps to Successfully becoming a Spanish Tax Resident
- Learn about the tax system – what needs to be done and when
- Understand how the Spanish tax regime differs in your situation and what tax you will have to pay
- Find out what tax treatment applies to assets you own and tax breaks that you currently enjoy
- Make changes in your financial set up to minimise, limit or avoid Spanish tax
- Get professional advice on financial or tax matters in both the UK and Spain
Spanish Residency Financial & Tax Consultation
If you are not sure about your tax position, have questions about tax in Spain, or would like assistance with any of the steps above, we can provide you with an initial review of your situation and at no cost. We’ll highlight key tax points relating to tax, your situation and answer your general questions.
You may need further help understanding how tax in Spain affects you, or planning to limit how much it does. In which case our team of financial and tax consultants specialised in change of residency planning between UK and Spain, are here to help.
Phone/WhatsApp (+34) 951 77 55 44 / (+44) 033 000 10 777
This information is provided for informational purposes only and we do not warrant it’s accuracy or completeness. It is not intended to provide advice, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before making financial or tax related decisions.