Mijas town hall ‘picking on’ foreigners to raise funds

LAST UPDATED: 30 Oct, 2011 @ 10:12
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Mijas town hall ‘picking on’ foreigners to raise funds

By Wendy Williams

MIJAS Town Hall is ‘cynically’ targeting foreigners in a new crusade against tax debts.

In a bid to replenish its empty coffers, the bankrupt town hall has launched a campaign to track down errant taxpayers, most of whom are expats.

According to PP Councillor Mario Bravo, there are more than 1,200 taxpayers who collectively owe a total of 1.24 million euros.

“There are foreigners who have two given names and one surname (unlike the Spanish system), and when they file documents we are never clear on which is the given name and which the surname,” he said.

In particular, he insisted it was Britons – who make up the majority of foreigners in Mijas – who are causing the chaos.

He blamed this on a lack of a DNI-style document, the fact that British passport numbers change when renewed, and that ‘British women take the surname of their husband when they get married’.

Several municipal workers are now set to trace the 1,243 taxpayers in arrears so that ‘we can remind them they forgot to pay their taxes’.

But rather than a reminder this seems to be sending out a clear message that foreigners are being targeted to replenish the council’s coffers.

“I think it is discriminate,” said Frank Bowles, 79, a retired journalist and member of the La Cala Lions club.

“We all know that people have to pay taxes, but the point is that they have always thought that we, the foreigners, are rich and we can help to pay for all the poor Spaniards, but that is not correct.

“The truth is these so-called ‘poor Spaniards’ have money,” he added.

“They were the ones who originally sold the land to the foreigners and became wealthy off the back of it.”

Meanwhile local Danish green party activist Pia Brunn said: “They are clearly trying to raise money as quickly as possible, although I find it very surprising that they would be targeting foreigners and I hope this isn’t the case.”

English photographer Paul O’Connell insisted the move was a continuation of a recent purge on expat businesses in Mijas.

“There has been a heavy-handed purge against foreign-owned bars.

“It is an unsubtle approach to getting money as the town hall is bankrupt with massive debts and it needs to get some of this back.

“It certainly doesn’t endear relations between the town hall and foreigners. It only creates more resentment.”

26 COMMENTS

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  1. The article actually says that ‘there are more than 1,200 taxpayers who collectively owe a total of 1.24 million euros’ and that ‘municipal workers are now set to trace the 1,243 taxpayers in arrears so that ‘we can remind them they forgot to pay their taxes’. They are chasing them all, not just the foreigners. It just happens that there are a lot of foreigners there and a high proportion of them are Brits. Sounds like a bit of Brit baiting on the part of the good old OP to me. I cannot see any hint of persecution or zenophobia here. With the comment about Brit owned bars, it is about time someone clamped down on the illegal ones. When are they going to do something about the illegal b&bs?

  2. Fred, my take on it is there are a number of foreigners within the 1,243, the majority of whom are Britons. Again, not zenophobic, just a fact. Part of the problem here is that a lot of foreigners do not register with their local town hall, some for nefarious resons and others because they simply do not understand the system. The local government gets a certain amount of money or grant for every person registered. Therefore if there are a lot of people not registered, having their rubbish collected etc, etc, the local government loses out.

  3. It’s true, there are many freeloading expats. I was chatting with a bloke in a bar last week, as you do, and the Guardia passed by. He looked anxious and when I asked if he was ok, he said he was worried because his car had no insurance, no tax, bald tyres, was on UK plates (and was in Spain for its 7th year). On top of that he was being chased by the town hall for five years of non payment of IBI, his builder was after him because he had not paid three years of ‘builders supply electric’ on his previous house, and he was being chased for child support by two mothers. Apart from that he’s loving it here, he said.

  4. Quite a few not even exist because they never registered in the Padron to begin with. But for a town that thrives on foreigners(I remember about 8 years ago Mijas was among the richest town halls in Spain…)to complain about names and passport numbers is ridiculous. To eat from forgeigners but never making an effort to understand how to keep track of them is like calling yourself stupid. That is the stupidest of all.

  5. It’s the system “stupid”. I have been here for 5 years now and I am still learning the system. I have just been caught for back taxes, which I have no problem paying everybody should pay their taxes. My situation arose because the Town Hall did not send out bills, when I queried this at the Town Hall I was told “It is not our responsibility to send out bills it is your responsibility to pay them”. How do I know how much to pay and when? You need to find out not rely on us to tell you. In my humble opinion if the Spanish Town Halls and government had a “System” they might not be in so much trouble with collecting taxes. I suggest they start treating foreigners as friends who can and do provide an economic input into the area, perhaps Town Halls should produce a leaflet in English, German etc explaining “The System” and make it a little easier for us to pay up when due. By the way I have no time for free loading Brits who say they live in Spain but don’t want to comply with local rules and customs, I want to I would just like it made a bit easier. PS Olive Press don’t turn into a Spanish Daily Mail.

  6. I have had several correspondence with the PP party of mijas! over the last few years, over an ongoing demolition order on my house, but since they are in the driving seat this year, can you imagine my shock, when i received an email saying that all correspondence is to be in Spanish now, or it will go straight to the foreigners department!!!
    Can you in imagine my fury, so insulting!! Anyone wishing to see this email i will happily forward this to them, i think this says everything dont you, lets stop pretending

  7. Teresa, count yourself lucky you got this far corresponding in English. Don’t see why it is so insulting – why should they correspond in a language to suit you? This is Spain, your house is in Spain and you should be corresponding in Spanish. There are plenty of translation services you can use if you have not bothered to learn the language yourself.

  8. sorry forgot spain is not multi cultural and a member of the E. U. and the facts are the p.p. party was emailing me in English before they were voted in, basically drumming up votes from the english, but the old story your in spain and you should speak spanish is boring now, thats why in there own ignorance they are going down the pan and they are a long way away from recovery, the worse is to come for them, just look at Greece, i can asure you i will look the other way when the Spanish have their bowl out for more…………..

  9. Spain is a multi-cultural country but not as much as England; few places are really. The fact remains if you were Spanish and living in the UK, having problems and communicating with your local Town Hall or Planning Department, there is no way you would be able to do that in any other language than English. If the PP party were drumming up support, and I have no idea if they were or not, the fact remains that, as boring as it may be, unless you communicate in Spanish you are not going to get anywhere. The current economic situation is not unique to Spain and relatively complex. I would suggest it has nothing to do with any local planning issue.

  10. All these stories of arrogant Town Halls all make their way back to others in the UK. By sticking their fingers up and knocking down houses holds the country back. Fine, if that is what you want, they don’t want more people and wealth in the country, then they are going about it the right way. I honestly believe that many of these Town Halls eith don’t want the British their or best ways, they reluctantly put up with us.

    If a Town Hall were a business, they would think, how can we attract more wealthy people here. I know, the British / Germans have some cash, let us make it a nice place to come and live, give them a smile when they come in, make it easy to spend money with us and let us give them some basic customer service. In Spain there are road blocks to getting anything done at all. That is why I left. Now, before you say it, my Wife speaks several languages, including Spanish and I also can speak a bit after attending night school for years. With their attitude they are going no where. You cannot expect someone who has retired to Spain to learn the lingo at their age to a standard of where you can put a letter together. Your brain is not quite as quick as when you are a lot younger. Why is it I can go into a Hotel and someone can speak a few words of English, but the Town Halls refuse to employ an English speaker, not just to speak English but carry out other duties as well. It would make their life easier as well.
    You can’t blame the corrupt macho incompetent ways on the British, or the Germans and paint this rose tinted glasses approach all the time. Why do you think very few people want to move to Spain now.
    The problem is, you are looking at it from the macho point of view, don’t like it, get lost. That does not make commercial sense. 21% unemloyment and rising.

  11. i think its desgusting and they get awaye with when they towed awaye my legal van from outside my house and sold it they threatned me if i made any legalmoves and that was the fo9riegners dept at mijas town hall sorry weve ed back to the uk to get awaye from scroudralls and bad bad spanish corupt spanish people and dont say there not all the same i lived there 20 years so i know get out while you ca;

  12. To no-one in particular.
    If you are having problems with your local politicians stop voting them into government. If you think you could do a better job, then do so. If you are not registered to vote, because you can’t be bothered or think you may have to pay the taxes you owe for living here, stop whinging. If you can’t communicate with your local town hall try learning the language they speak instead of assuming everybody should be bending over backwards to accommodate you. It’s tedious hearing complaints about how every immigrant to the UK gets everything served up on a plate yet in the next breath the complainers complain they don’t get the same treatment here.
    Spain isn’t perfect but if you don’t like how things are DO something about it, don’t just talk about it. There are a lot of unhappy northern European immigrants here, a lot of potential voters. Put down your beers, get out of the bars and participate. You may enjoy it.

  13. To some extent Spain has modernized. Therefore, regarding Reap’s comment, above, the Spaniards have made a choice. They have experienced working to draw English and German money directly by offering a beautiful environment, and they have also experienced getting British and German money as direct transfers via the EU. They have decided the latter method is more fun. Wait until they realize what the real cost of that second method is. Financial hobnails and jackboots are heard marching in the distance. Sad but obvious. Ask Portugal, Greece, and Italy. As for what broke the ayuntamientos, it was allowing tremendous hideous overbuilding of condominiums and then finding out that they had a huge demand on services joined to an uglier town.

  14. I am currently having a problem with the town hall of Canillas De Albaida. I rented and ran a Restaurant there for 2 years in 2005-2006 and registered for water and industrial rubbish collection.When I closed the restaurant I informed the town hall and stopped all standing order payments from the business account. In October last year they took 3 payments from my personal account for the business utilities. I visited the town hall to find out what was going on,informed my bank not to pay anymore demands and was told the town hall would look into it. Last week I received a demand for six years payments from Patronato before the end of this month or an embargo will be put on my bank account and my property. The Mayor is not answering calls or is not available.I was told he would search the archives for proof of closure of the business.The town hall know very well that this restaurant was being run by a local family for the last 6 years,did they not register to pay thier bills ? As of Monday none of the secretaries had been asked to do this and today was told they were too busy to do this???? I also encountered on one visit another British couple who had been charged a huge water bill and they are only here part time. The local hotel pays much less.The excuse is¨” you have a leak”.There are a few with the same problem. I have always paid my taxes and bills here in Spain but I refuse to pay for others.
    P.S. Yes I am British dont be fooled by the surname.

  15. @Kritzlynn, close the bank account and file a denuncia. You’ll find that all the businesses that get away with paying next to nothing are all family relations. It’s the way things are done in Spain. Starting a business as an expat is just a waste of time here.

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