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A taxing issue for non-residents in Spain

PUBLISHED: January 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm  •  LAST EDITED: January 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm
Lead2, National News  •  21 Comments

A taxing issue for non-residents in Spain

• Non-resident property owners need to be aware of how much tax they owe

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NON-RESIDENT property owners are being warned they are still required to pay tax on their home even if it is not earning them an income.

The Spanish tax authorities are clamping down on those who have failed to pay Deem Income Tax – dubbed the ‘enjoyment’ tax – over the last four years.

Letters are being sent to non-residents who have not paid the charge, along with fines for late payment.

“Unfortunately, ignorance of the existence of this tax does not excuse you from paying it,” said Jose Lopez Avalos, from Manilva Solicitors.

“It is understood that non-resident clients are benefitting through ‘enjoyment’ of the property, and this is taxable.

“It means the taxman not charging tax on real income such as rent, but on a deemed income from the property.

The tax is used to fund airports and motorways used by non-residents in order to to enjoy their properties.”

He added: “The tax is not usually high so it is worth paying on time to avoid the risk of being fined.”

Non-residents can pay the tax using Form 210, available from the Spanish tax office website

Payment for the 2012 tax year must be made before the end of 2013.

For more info contact Manilva Solicitors on 952 901 225 or [email protected]

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Reader Comments »


January 24th, 2013 2:34 pm

Well if the Spanish government reformed it’s tax system and actually sent out bills they might collect more tax. We are in the 21st century and to rely on tax being paid by gazing into a crystal ball is ridiculous. I hadn’t received any bills for my rubbish so I asked at the town hall shake of the head and told to enquire at the bank no joy there and told to ask town hall. Finally I went to the local office of APAT surprise surprise yes we have 3 bills here for you…medieval! Spain get your country in order if you want people to pay taxes, relying on people who want to pay their taxes having to go from office to office to track down a bill is no way to run a modern country.

ian R

January 24th, 2013 4:22 pm


You are spot on, they seem to think tax will be collected by osmosis


January 24th, 2013 6:20 pm

I went to pay a parking fine 6 months ago, they told me it wasn’t on the system yet and they would send the bill when it was, so far.. nothing.
They don’t have a brain cell between them.


January 25th, 2013 10:01 am

Michael: next thing you know they’ll embargo your bank account for non-payment!


January 25th, 2013 10:41 am

when we first bought our peice of land and house we had two plots together, our crafty spanish neighbour had been paying the ibi on the second plot as after i think 5 years he could have claimed it as his.


January 25th, 2013 12:42 pm

None of this surprises me in the’s the most ludicrous ‘system’imaginable. To expect expats in a foreigh country, perhaps with little or no understanding of the language, to try and find out IF they owe money to anyone and therefore pay it is nonsensical. But then what can you expect in a region where thousands of people don’t even have ‘proper’ addresses and there is no postal service?? (I used to be one of them!) To paraphrase what someone else has already said…..Andalucia: get real!

jean briggs

January 26th, 2013 10:04 am

no excuses. When you buy property in Spain you are made aware (or should be by your agent or solicitor) of the tax obligations.
Many people claim ignorance as an excuse for not paying. There are too many people getting a big tax free return on their undeclared rental incomes.
If everybody paid their taxes in the first place then maybe the tax bills wouldn’t be so high. Infrastructure has to be financed and those who don’t pay tax are the first to complain about the poor services such as the police, schools etc.

ash c

January 28th, 2013 6:35 pm

do you have to pay if your house has been made illegal so in turn doesnt exist , you cant pay tax on something that doesnt exist , can you ?


January 28th, 2013 6:51 pm

@ean briggs
I think you are sanctimoniously missing the point, nobody commenting on here is advocating not paying their taxes quite the opposite, they want to pay their taxes via a simple system not having to go to the town hall or APAT office and beg to be given a bill. If you think all ex pats are given a list of all the taxes they have to pay, where to pay and on what date they are due I’m afraid you are living in some fantasy world.


January 28th, 2013 9:01 pm

Totally agree Peter @Jean. That’s EXACTLY what I was trying to say…it’s a ludicrously difficult task just to find out what you owe!!! (BTW Jean…..I think the original point was being made about people who DON’T actually rent their houses out, but are technically non-resident…..hey ho; they’re all sinners, obviously, lol!)
And it’s also a good point about the ‘illegal’ houses……if they say they ‘don’t exist’ then how can they make people pay tax on them??!!!


January 28th, 2013 10:09 pm

If everybody paid their taxes in the first place then maybe the tax bills wouldn’t be so high.

you don’t say Jean. Any other snippets of genius?


May 7th, 2013 10:04 am

@Jean Briggs – you’re the only person who has made any sense in this; and look at the vitriol you get in return.

You’re absoluately right – if people want to live in a foreign ncountry, then they need to abide by it’s rules. If you don’t understand the language, learn it, or pay someone to guide you. If you don’t understand the tax system, there are plenty of people out there who will sort it out for you, for a fee. And if you don’t want to pay the fee, then you can always go back to the UK where you understand the system, the language et al.

Spain’s in a financial nightmare. It needs to raise funds. There’s no point in taxing those who can’t afford it (although that hasn’t stopped them trying), but it makes sense to tax those who can; and non-resident owners definitely fall into that category.

If you can’t stand the heat – well, probably shouldn’t be here in the first place.

Julie Payne

May 7th, 2013 11:42 am

It is worrying that you can be embargoed for something that you didn’t know you owed! This has happened to a friend of mine who did not receive notification of a traffic violation by post! Our post is very infrequently delivered.

tricia johnson

May 7th, 2013 12:57 pm

Tim…you’re missing the point too.NO-ONE is saying expats should try to avoid paying tax — the issue is, that they should perhaps expect to be told what to pay and to whom. Not much to ask. And have you ANY idea how many shysters there are in Andalucia who ‘know everything’ and ‘charge a fee’….then tell the poor bamboozled expat a load of rubbish??? Plus, given that the Spanish officials themselves often don’t understand the system, and that you can go to two different ‘officials’ of a government department and be told two completely different things,really, you’re on a hiding to nothing.
Can you imagine the utter chaos if other countries, such as UK, waited for people to come forward and offer to pay taxes they may or may not owe???
Julie…you’re quite right. It is a nightmare…….where I was, there WAS no post and this is pretty commonplace. A builder friend of mine had 10,000 euros taken from his bank account (put there as a stage payment for a big job he was doing) because he ‘allegedly’ owed Social Security….took him six months to get it back when they found they had made a mistake….plus he very nearly lost the client (understandably).


July 11th, 2013 9:04 am

Stop moaning about having to pay out! You all seem like intelligent people and know that mañana is the most common word in Spain.
There are plenty of companies that will sort out your liabilities for not very much, and most of you will know this but choose to ignore it.
Most weeks I see it in the local Brit paper.
Pay your taxes and be legal, stop looking for excuses and most of all stop insulting the Spanish. We would be up in arms in Britain if they insulted our system. If you have ever dealt with the IRS in Britain there is a lot wrong with it.
You have to work with the systems in place.
I would however like to know – can you pay these income taxes in England as an EU resident. Anyone?


August 12th, 2013 4:37 pm

I have received my first Suma and water bill in nine years.
The trouble with Spain is they can’t get the Taxes from there own kind, so they go after us.Our pensions get paid to us in Spain, so we are a sure bet.
Spain picks and chooses what EU LAWS they want to abide by.
Be fair Spain treat us with some respect, all said & done we
bank with you, we spend all our money in the shops,they take our money,but deep down they don’t realy want us here.
I’ve been coming to Spain since 1970 how it has changed, so much coruption and it still goes on,this is the down fall of Spain,builders,lawyers and notarys.
In the end it is us who has to suffer for there greed.
So Spain get your act together and go after these people.


September 4th, 2013 12:27 pm

oh please ppl get with the real!! world spain is a complete bloody shambles; hence why most expats are coming back to the uk. couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery if they tried! Everyone needs to take some responsibility, but the spanish authorities more than others. We all deserve to be treated respectfully, and if we need guidance it should be there regardless if its requested or not! I had an accident in spain through no fault of mine and ended up with disabilities 6 yrs down the line i put my faith into the spanish government to put this right ,and what did they do “let me down”, the guy got off, and his insurance had to foot the bill for my injuries, which were a pittance ,and to top it all my spanish solicitor; who was just as useless as its government! pissed off with my money! he too was having problems with his so called government, and although i told the courts not to pay it to my solicitor and explained my earlier concerns they still gave it to him and guess what?! i have been add in the net too so please don’t praise the government system they don’t deserve it!! No expat would ever be treated in the uk like we are in spain!


September 4th, 2013 5:47 pm

Thanks for the reality check, Sharon.

Geoff Barton

April 11th, 2014 6:19 pm

I’ve just received my bill in the Uk. Paid it on time for the lsst 10 years through my purchasing Solicitor. Just read this one though. Tax €16.00 Fees €93.With taxes €128 EACH.
Any cheaper ways of paying it or is this just a rip off???


May 1st, 2014 12:37 pm

@GeoffBarton, yes there is a cheaper way. Complete the forms yourself and pay when you are in Spain. It is fairly easy but you need to be computer literate.

dick thornton

May 6th, 2014 5:20 pm

Unfortunately Spain is corrupt at all levels, and most civil servants have a job for life so are particularly lazy. I believe there is no hope of any improvement in sight. However the sunshine is nice, so as always, one has to compromise. Is it worth it? It appears that once people really find out how things are run, many of them decide it is not.

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