Should I file taxes in Spain as a Foreigner?

If you work in Spain and you are required by law to file a tax return, known as the Declaración de la Renta.  The Spanish tax year runs a calendar year, from January 1st to December 31st, and tax returns must be filed on or before June 30th the following year.

Do you really work in Spain? Those who are in Spain more than 183 days a year, have a spouse or children in Spain or take earnings from a Spanish company are considered tax residents and thus must submit a declaración. Language Assistants through the Ministry of Education are exempt from declaring their monthly stipend however BEDA teaching assistants are not, though help is on hand through that program.

Most workers are required to submit what’s known as a declaración ordinaria, which states earnings and retentions from business activities. Retentions come in the form of your personal income tax, known in Spain as IRPF or impuesto sobre la renta de las personas físicas, and accounts for over half of the government’s yearly revenue. Spanish tax declarations can be made individually or with a spouse and can be submitted online, over the phone or in person.


Salaried Workers
Salaried workers who receive a monthly nómina, or paycheck stub already have withheld taxes in the form of social security and payments towards unemployment. The base of taxation depends largely on income. Workers who earn less than  8,000 Euros a year are not required to file a return.

How to Submit a Declaración de la Renta
Your employer should have records of your monthly paycheck stubs, which outline your base salary, any bonuses, retentions and dates worked. Also ask for a certificado de retenciones, which is the official amount of money the government has taken from you outside of social security and is often available by mid-April. In general this money is refunded. Be sure to have this information on hand when filling out your borrador, or the editable copy of your tax return.

Remember that tax returns can be submitted in person, over the phone or by Internet.

If you’d like to make an appointment to speak to someone in the tax office, you may do so after an established date (usually the first or second week of May) by calling 901 223 344. Make sure to bring your NIE and passport, monthly bank statements for 2013, copies of your nóminas and any additional and relevant documents detailing income and interest received to your appointment. The tax representative will help you fill out all of the information correctly and will inform if you owe money or will be receiving a return.

Too busy to make a trip to the Tributaria? Most Spaniards file their declaración online, using the Agencia Tributaria’s website and Renta Exprés option.

COMO_Should I file taxes in Spain
Once you have chosen this year’s borrador, you are able to type in your NIE, your surname(s) and one of three options: a reference number, which will have been sent to you by SMS, the earnings from Box 620 from your previous year’s tax declaration, or choose to be a first-time declarant. Although Hacienda keeps a detailed record of your earnings and income through your IRPF number, make sure to triple-check the figures and your bank account number before checking the box to submit your borrador.

If the final figure in box 530 of your borrador is negative, congratulations!, you will be receiving a return in the form of a bank transfer from Hacienda, typically within 3-4 working days. If the number is positive, you’ll have to pay that amount to the government. Tax returns should be kept on file for at least five years, as the Spanish government reserves the right to audit any tax citizen during this time.

Note that this article does not touch on joint returns, returns for autónomous, housing allowances or dependents, but rather provides basic instructions for those who are salaried worked who do not own property in Spain. COMO Consulting is not a tax firm. For a complete rundown of tax law for non-residents, the Agencia Tributaria publishes a guide in English.

Need advice on the complex system of Spanish taxes? Contact COMO Consulting – we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

Author: Cat Gaa

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