Friday, 17 April 2015

Five Spanish Non-Resident Taxes


I was asked by a UK based property professional to write the content of a leaflet he wanted, for prospective buyers of Spanish houses / apartments. His request was welcomed as too often property agents prefer NOT to tell prospective buyers about taxes, but this is a great initiative.

For many of my regular Spanish resident readers there are elements of this that will not apply but I was writing specifically for a non-resident audience. It equally applies however to non-residents who have already purchased. By all means, email me if you want more detail.

To begin I’ll list three common myths that are wrong. These have all been said to me or written to me;

  • ‘I’m not liable to Spanish Inheritance Tax because I’m not a resident’ – wrong
  • ‘I live in the UK and pay my taxes to the tax office in Salford Quays. I have a house in Spain but I’ve no need to pay Spanish taxes’ – wrong
  • The people who rent my Spanish house pay me in pounds so I don’t need to pay Spanish tax’ – wrong

The following is the leaflet contents I referred to earlier;

There are 5 key taxes most applicable to non-resident property owners.

Income Tax
Every non-resident owner of a Spanish property has to pay an annual tax to account for their "share" of the property. Although it's called an "income tax" it's not actually based on your level of income, but on a "deemed" or "notional" income, which is a percentage of the rateable value of the property multiplied by the non-resident tax rate of 24.75%.

This tax is based on the calendar year and is always due within 12 months of the end of the tax year, so for the 2017 tax year, tax needs to be paid before 31st December 2018.


Property or IBI Tax
Property rates in Spain is referred to as IBI and, like the UK, this tax will be levied by your local council in Spain. The council will assign a rateable value to your property and then your rates or property tax will be a % of this amount. The % will depend on your council, but in most cases it will be somewhere between 0.5% and 1%. So if you had a rateable value of €50,000 and your local percentage was 0.75%, then your annual rates bill would be €375.

This tax is also based on the calendar year but will normally be payable between June and September each year, again this will be dependent on your local council.

Rental Income Tax
Up until the end of 2009, rental income tax was 24% of the gross income you received on any rentals. So if you generated €1000 by renting out your property, then you would have to pay €240 in tax. You could not offset any expenses - i.e. cleaning, utilities, insurance, mortgage interest, marketing, management fees etc.

However, since January 2010, the rules have changed, which means that you can now offset expenditure when calculating what income, or effectively profit, will be subject to tax of 24.75%.

In theory rental income tax returns need to be submitted each quarter, to account for income received in the preceding 3 months

Capital Gains Tax 
When a non-resident owner sells their property, they will make a capital gain or a loss upon the sale, which is the difference between what they paid for the property and the proceeds of the sale. The buyer of the property should always withhold 3% of the sales value and pay this to the Spanish tax office as an "advance" of the buyer’s potential capital gains tax. It is then up to the buyer to calculate their gain or loss, and if a gain has been made this will be subject to 21% tax. The buyer should pay the 3% within 1 month of the sale date, and the seller then has a further 1 month in order to submit their calculation of a gain or loss and the corresponding tax returns.

Inheritance Tax
Inheritance tax for non-residents is a tax on the beneficiaries and not on the deceased as it is in the UK. The tax rates themselves can vary depending on the relationship of the beneficiaries to the deceased, the amount that is being gifted, their age, and even their wealth in Spain and in the very worst situation tax rates can reach levels of 81%!

The other major issue for UK people is that transfers between husband and wife in Spain are not tax exempt as they are in the UK, so if a spouse were to die, then the surviving spouse, in most cases, will need to pay inheritance tax (as well as probate) in order to take on the additional 50% share of the property.

It will normally take approximately 6 months to deal with the probate issues in Spain and pay any outstanding inheritance tax, before the property deeds can then be altered.

No Inheritance Tax is payable if the property is owned by a UK company, since even if a shareholder dies, the company can continue in existence and the shares passed on to a beneficiary under UK rules. This requires SPECIALIST advice.

* * * * * * *

This is a very basic outline of taxes in Spain, applying to non-residents. Both residents and non-residents are always encouraged to seek professional advice.


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You will note that the leaflet does not contain the Spanish titles of the taxes, as it is aimed at a UK audience. 


Further reading recommended, includes the following;

Scam Watch Just say NO to cold calls

Professional Advice Always best


La Torre Fx- Foreign Exchange beating the banks on bank transfers!



Please email me if there is anything I can help with.



David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain