If you live in Spain for more than 183 days then you are a resident. Those days do not have to be sequential, so it doesn’t count if you pop back to your home country for a few days and then return. It’s how many days you spend in Spain over the course of the whole year that counts.
As a resident you should be aware that the vast majority are required to make a resident tax declaration. Although some other conditions do apply, this generally includes a pensioner receiving a pension from abroad that totals more than 11,200€ a year. It also applies to you if you are an early retiree and have an income through interest of more than 1,600€ or an income through renting of more than 1,000€ a year.
Even if you don’t come into one of these two groups, and most people do, we still recommend that you make a resident tax declaration. It provides evidence of your income in Spain and can be used to prove your fiscal residency.
What you must do
Hopefully we have now convinced you about the importance of this piece of paper. The next stage is to complete it. The final date for completion is the 30th June each year. However, most fiscal representatives start the process in April. Your declaration will cover the previous tax year. So, for example, if you make a declaration in June 2015 it will be for your income during the tax year January 2014 until December 2014.
You will need to take documents to your appointment and you should check with your tax adviser what documents you will need to avoid a wasted journey. On the form you will declare your world-wide income including rental income, income from pensions and any other investments or interest you might receive.
The appointment at Ábaco usually takes about an hour and the form is completed online. It is quite a straightforward process provided you have all the documentation you need.
This means that you will get to know immediately if there is anything to pay or even, if you will get a refund. In the case of a refund the Spanish Tax Authority must return the money within six months and usually do so well before this deadline. Refunds are paid directly into your bank account.
You should be aware that there have been cases of bogus emails being sent purporting to be from the tax office and saying that a tax refund is due. The recipient is then asked to enter certain details in order to receive their refund. The Spanish Tax Authority does not give refunds in this way and they would never ask for your credit card details.
It’s your responsibility
You have to remember that in Spain you are not spoon fed when it comes to paying your taxes. People can mistake the fact that they may not be contacted by the Tax Office in Spain with them not being bothered about their contribution. This is not the case.
What usually happens on non-payment of taxes is that at some point, for example when you come to sell your house or it is bequeathed as part of an inheritance, you realise that the Spanish Tax Authority has been taking note all long. You then have to rectify the omission, with interest, or you discover that you are not classed as ‘resident’ for fiscal purposes. Being classed as a resident is particularly important if you do not want to have 3% of your house price retained on sale.
Making a resident tax declaration is a simple process and you may even have a zero return to make. Residents should mark the 30th June in their diary and make sure that they are tax compliant.