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.”