Spain Accountants publishes Chinese web pages

Traditionally we have used English as a working language both for our website and for communication with clients.  When we first started out in 2003 the great majority of our clients were from the UK. Now I would say that more than 50% of new clients are non-British but comfortable to communicate in English, many of these from Nordic, North European and Eastern European countries.

However there is still clearly a need for original language content to offer our services to potential Chinese clients, and for this reason we are now releasing our website pages in Chinese.  The professional translation is thanks to our very own Fangwei Chen, our operations manager.

For a link to the web pages, follow Spain Accountants in Chinese.

Hacienda squeezes even tighter- filing deadline for Modelo 347 changed.

In my previous posts on French and Spanish tax I have used the Star Wars analogy with regards to the Tax Office´s treatment of the small business taxpayer.  Well sad to say, but in Spain the Empire continues to tighten its grip.

The annual informative declaration of transactions with third parties, Modelo 347, is a rather clever tool introduced by the Agencia Tributaria a few years back to ensure tax and VAT compliance among small businesses.  Any supplier or customer with whom you the taxpayer has transactions totalling more than 3,005 Euros in the year must be included in this declaration.  As Hacienda can cross-check between declarations,  the taxpayer runs a risk of and enquiry inspection if they make any omissions.

In principle this is a clever way to ensure that businesses declare all income, and do not overstate expenditure for tax and VAT purposes. Where our objection, and that of Spanish professional accountants´ organisations, including of own- the AECE , is in the tight filing deadlines.

Originally 31st March, this was changed last year to 28th Feb and now it is proposed that from 2018 the deadline will be 31st January ! This gives the small business only one month from the close of the year to prepare the return, at a time when they also have other annual tax obligations with a similar deadline- annual informative returns for VAT and tax retentions.

And as is standard in Spain, Hacienda are ruthless with the poor person that misses the deadline. No reminder letter if the deadline is missed, no forgiveness for the first transgression. As usual, the taxpayer can expect an automatic penalty fine with no excuses accepted.

The cynic might say that these changes in deadlines are designed purely to generate income in penalty fines. And I would find it difficult to argue !

For further information and details on our services, please visit our Spain Accountants website.

The New Autonomo Law

The proposals in Proposición de Ley de Reformas Urgentes del Trabajo Autónomo, which are expected to become law from 1st January 2018 contain some changes which will be of interest to those of you that are thinking about starting up a self-employed business in Spain. Here is a brief summary of the most important points.

From 1st January 2018, Social Security contributions for new autonomos under the Tarifa Plana regime will be as follows:

1-12 months: 50 Euros

13-18 months (50% reduction): 137 Euros

18-24 months (30% reduction): 192 Euros

After 24 months contributions revert to standard, which is currently around 275 Euros per month.

Autonomos who are re-registering after having ceased their business for more than two years are eligible to apply.

For autonomos who work from home, 20% of personal household expenditure, such as telephone, water, gas, and electricity is tax deductible. For expenditure related to vehicles that are partially used for business, 50% of the cost is deductible for the purposes of income tax (depreciation) and VAT.

The self-employed food allowance is 26,67 Euros per day if the expenditure is incurred in Spain or 48,08 Euros if incurred abroad. Only bills of restaurants, hotels or similar establshments (not including supermarkets) can be claimed and only for card/ electronic payments.

Autonomos may change their base of contribution up to four times in one year, and are also are allowed to register and de-register from Social Security up to three times a year.

For further information and details on our services, please visit our Spain Accountants website.

Amplification of our services and reduction of costs to our clients. Part 2: Registration for autonomo Social Security

This is our second post of today on a recent development in our services,

We have recently registered as an online service provider for small business clients (PAE = Punto de Atención al Emprendedor). This means that we are now able to offer certain services online, i.e. without the need to use a local gestoria to physically go into the relevant government office to complete the client´s procedures. This means that we can reduce the cost to our clients which is always going to be welcome !

The government system for this is called CIRCE (Centro de Información y Red de Creación de Empresas) and we will use it for the following:

Autonomo Social Security registration

Using the CIRCE system, we can register our clients for autonomo Social Security online, which using the regular Social Security system is only possible in the client has their own Tax Office digital certificate. Not having to physically go into the Administration Offices to register  clearly saves on time and stress for all involved.

If you would like any help with registering as an autonomo in Spain then we will be happy to assist ! You will find further details on our website .

Amplification of our services and reduction of costs to our clients. Part 1: Company formation in Spain

Spain Accountants has some good news to share with you ! We have recently registered as an online service provider for small business clients (PAE = Punto de Atención al Emprendedor). This means that we are now able to offer certain services online, i.e. without the need to use a local gestoria to physically go into the relevant government office to complete the client´s procedures. This means that we can reduce the cost to our clients which is always going to be welcome !

The government system for this is called CIRCE (Centro de Información y Red de Creación de Empresas) and we will use it for the following:

Company formation

Under the CIRCE system, formation of a new limited company (Sociedad Limitada) in Spain has been made simpler and less expensive.  Procedures such as physically having to go into the Tax Office to pay Stamp Duty and converting the provisional tax number (CIF) to a final tax number are not necessary under this online system. It is also no longer necessary to physically present the notarised company articles at the Mercantile Registry, as these are sent online via the CIRCE system.

In addition, the newly formed company is automatically assigned an employer´s Social Security number as part of the process.

This cuts down both the timescale and cost to the client.

There are two important “manual” parts to the company formation procedure which remain unchanged:

  1. The client is still required to go into their Spanish bank to open the company bank account.
  2. The client is still required to attend a Notary signing in Spain to sign the constitution of the company.

If you would like any help with forming your new Spanish company then we will be happy to assist ! You will find further details and FAQ´s on our company formation service on our website .

2016 Renta- the time has arrived !

In a couple of hours time, if the Agencia Tributaria keep to their promise, the online system will open for the filing of the 2016 Renta. It´s a brand new system this year- the offline tax return preparation software of previous years, PADRE, has gone and now filing is fully online.

Most of us in the industry expect the Agencia Tributuria to have some teething problems with the new system, but they might surprise us ! Let the fun commence !

Modelo 720- Declaration of Foreign Assets- 2017 update

It is now four years deeply unpopular Modelo 720, the declaration of foreign assets, has been with us. Happy birthday- not !  As of today, there have been no updates on the Agencia Tributaria website since last year, so for now we are assuming that nothing has changed in the rules.

After the initial bewilderment and even fear (looking at the kind of fines that the Agencia Tributaria propose for errors in declaration, produced by Modelo 720 when it was first released), I would say that things have calmed down now.  We have still not come across any Tax Office fines or penalties,  and it appears from correspondence received from them that they are mainly using the data submitted in Modelo 720 to check that income from foreign assets (e.g. rental income from a foreign property) is being properly declared in Spain- subject to the provisions of the relevant international Double Tax Treaties.

However we continue to advise that those filing this declaration take extreme care to fully and correctly disclose all details. I    wouldn´t want to take any risks with the Agencia Tributaria given their capacity for giving and enforcing sanctions and penalties.

As nothing has changed in the rules since last year, I am copying below our general guidelines and have added some more specific technical notes in a further post.

For more information and guidance, please visit our website

Obligation to declare

Spanish residents with foreign assets or income in any of the following categories exceeding 50,000 Euros on 31st December.

  1. Accounts in any kind of financial institution e.g. banks, building societies.
  2. a) Investments/ rights of representation in foreign companies or other entities.                                                                                                                   b) Investments in foreign collective investment institutions (e.g. unit trusts).                                                                                                                         c) Foreign life/ invalidity insurance; income from foreign annuities.
  3. Property and rights to property.

Note that the threshold is for the total value of each of the three categories.

Where assets are jointly held (e.g. with a spouse), it is the total value of the asset which is relevant. A separate return must be submitted for each person.

Presentation deadline

This tax return must be submitted by 31st March following the end of the year in which the taxpayer is obliged to declare.

Frequency of declarations

The Agencia Tributaria guidelines state the following:

After the initial return is presented, a new return must be filed when the total of any category of assets/ income increases by 20,000 Euros or more, either at 31st December or during the last quarter of the year.

Valuation of assets

Property: purchase price;

Investments which are traded on the open market: market value as at 31st December;

Other investments: value on last published balance sheet.

Penalties for non-disclosure

The guidelines mention “minimum” penalties of 30,000 Euros for non-disclosure ! I can’t envisage how such big penalties could be applied, or even if they would be enforceable if challenged under EU law.

Information is, in principle, shared very easily between financial institutions and Tax Offices in both EU and non-EU countries these days; this means that, in theory at least, the figures that you declare can be checked by the Agencia Tributaria.

The Agencia Tributaria FAQ’s imply that even the slightest error, even unintentional (e.g. in a bank account number) will be punished by a minimum fine of 10,000 Euros !

This would appear to be nothing more than scaremongering.  But the fact is, we don’t know.  To date we have not heard from any prospective clients who have received a fine,  so at this point we can only conjecture

For more information and guidance, please visit our website

Spain Accountants- our new payroll service

We are happy to announce that we are now offering  a payroll service for Spanish companies and Spanish branch offices of foreign companies.

Ou service includes the following:

  1. Registration of the client for employers´ Social Security;
  2. Processing of the monthly Social Security and quarterly income tax payments;
  3. Processing of particular situations such as maternity pay/ sick leave;
  4. Addition of new employees and deregistration of leavers.

Please visit our website or contact us for further details.

Registering as an Intracommunity Operator in Spain – VIES

In many European countries,  there is no distinction between the procedures for registering for local VAT, and registering on the European Union list of Intracommunity Operators, knows as VIES (VAT Information Exchange system). For instance in France, when a company obtains a French VAT number they are automatically assigned an EU VAT number, which is just their French / tax code with an “FR” in front. Simple and effective.

Immediately after registration, the company will be able to find themselves on the EU database of Intracommunity Operators.  There is a lookup page on the official EU site .

Spain is very different. When a company is assigned a Spanish tax / VAT code, it will not automatically appear on the VIES database. A separate application needs to be made using a general purpose form, Modelo 036. This form can be submitted online by anyone with an electronic certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Office. However approval times are very slow. The central Tax Office in Barcelona is now telling us to allow up to six months for processing.

So what is the situation for the company while their VIES application is being processed ?  The following specific situation is the one that has been causing some our clients problems: they have a supplier in another EU country who refuses to invoice them without VAT unless they can actually find them on the VIES database. So, for instance, a Dutch supplier will charge the client Dutch VAT. This VAT is not recoverable as part of the regular Spanish VAT returns.

So in order to recover the Dutch VAT, the client would need to submit a separate request which would need to pass via both the Spanish and Dutch tax authorities for authorisation. This could take some time to be processed (dare I say especially at the Spanish end !) and although the issuing state is required to pay interest for payments that are late, it is obviously not an ideal solution and worse for the business cashflow in the crucial start-up period of any business.

So this is a common problem that comes up with our clients. The advice which we give them is: “strictly speaking, your EU suppliers should be able to invoice you without VAT because you are registered for VAT in Spain. That is all that is required by EU Law- namely the Sixth Directive.  You can send them proof of your Spanish VAT registration (Modelo 036/037) to demonstrate this to them”. However, in practice we find that this is often not enough to convince the supplier.  A tax form in Spanish means nothing to them, and given that VIES registration in their country is most probably automatic with local VAT registration anyway, they understandably but wrongly assume that Spain is the same, and that if they cannot find their Spanish customer on the VIES then it means that they are not registered for VAT in Spain !

This bureaucratic mess designed by the the  Spanish Tax Authorities is not only causing a great inconvenience to newly established businesses here, but is putting off potential investors into Spain and prejudicing our economy.

Brexit, huh ? Part 1.

Ever since the Brexit vote we have received concerned enquiries from clients as to the impact of Brexit on their personal situation. And of course the answer is, nobody knows yet.

There are already tangible economic consequences within and outside the borders of the UK: the drop in the value of sterling, economists predicting slowed growth,  and EU companies such as Opel cutting staff hours in anticipation of reduced sales in the UK.   All these are based on uncertainty and judgment rather than political reality.

Personally, we remain calm and optimistic. We do not expect an exodus of our Spanish-resident clients, whether self-imposed anticipating Brexit or imposed by the Spanish authorities when (I still prefer to say if and when- see my comments below) Britain finally does leave the EU. We also do not anticipate any significant reduction of migration of British individuals and businesses to Spain after that point.

Here are my opening thoughts which focus on whether Brexit will actually happen. In my next blog I will examine the doomsday scenario of Brexit becoming a reality and what it could mean for all of us.

Will Brexit actually happen ?

So far, all we have is the result of a referendum which in itself is not legally binding under UK or EU law. Leaving the EU is an essentially political decision, with Article 50 to be invoked by the Prime Minister.  And there is currently intense legal debate as to whether this will first need to be approved by an Act of Parliament: think about what that would mean, with a majority of MP´s in favour of remaining in the EU !

PM Theresa May has committed to Brexit but has not given a date for Article 50, and we are getting messages from the politicians, direct and indirect, that this will definitely not happen this year.

I can´t understand why they would want to delay the process.  As we all know, uncertainty can have far worse consequences than actual reality, expecially in the markets.

Following the massive support in an online petition supporting a second referendum with a higher required winning threshold (60% based on a 75% turnout), MP´s are legally required to consider this, and the debate has been scheduled for 5th September. The majority of UK politicians are in favour of remaining in the EU. So it remains a possibility that the government may be forced to run a second referendum. The results of the first referendum suggest that 60% would not be achieved, and I there will be many who woke up of the morning of 24th June with a political hangover thinking “what on earth did I do last night ?”. With the gloomy economic forecasts that followed the result, I think that many already regret their choice and would vote differently in a second referendum.

All the time it is important to remember that Brexit is a political decision.  Any referendums are not legally binding because the final move, and the invocation of Article 50, must be carried out by the government in power. Governments can fall, or lose elections.  If Article 50 is invoked in 2017, and negotiations for Britain´s exit last significantly longer than the minimum prescribed two years, as economic uncertainty and political unrest grows as the negotiations are not going satisfactorily from a UK point of view, we could have the situation where Britain is still in the European Union at the next General Elections, which must take place by mid 2020.  Then with a new government and perhaps a new political party in power (Labour is strongly pro-Europe), the cancellation of Brexit would be a very real possibility.