Probably the most burning issue here on the Costa del Sol for expatriates is minimising exposure to Spanish taxes. Everywhere I go to meet and discuss matters with both clients and prospective clients, this same subject always arises. Over the years I have noticed that this subject has caused so much unhappiness with some people. And it is mostly with men, rarely with women.
The unhappiness stems from the conflict between the heart and the pocket. The heart says I want to live here, revel in this micro climate, enjoy my golf, wine and dine with my friends and basically enjoy a healthy outdoor life. My pocket says I don’t want and will not pay these taxes – particularly wealth tax. Wealth tax is alien to North European nationals, whose countries by and large do not impose this tax.
The result for some is that they are sentenced to be constantly wandering the world, on the move from one jurisdiction to another throughout the tax year, always ensuring they are not there long enough to be caught in the tax net. This can also result in stress, instability, the feeling of not belonging anywhere and some cases the cause of divorce. Women on the other hand just want to live where they will be happy, where they have access to their social circle, to their children and grandchildren, either close by or at the end of an easy inexpensive short flight. For them, the tax issue is secondary.
One only has this life once and so why not take the course of most happiness for you and your family and accept the fact there are two sure things in life – death and taxes (to quote Benjamin Franklin)? You cannot take your money with you when you depart this orb, but you can certainly minimise your taxes whilst here and leave your money to your beneficiaries with either very little inheritance tax or none at all.
Thus, it is best to confront the tax implications head on to see what is entailed and what your potential liability is. Apart from wealth and inheritance tax, there are two other mainstream taxes in Spain – capital gains tax and income tax. These too can be mitigated and often eliminated with careful tax planning. Investment income can be sheltered from tax as well as capital gains if steps are taken early enough, particularly if you are coming to live here from another jurisdiction. Here in Andalucia, inheritance tax has for all intents and purposes been eliminated. Wealth tax carries generous allowances (particularly in the case of shared assets). There is even talk of once more eliminating wealth tax altogether but we will have to wait and see.
Of course, tax and investments are intertwined so it is important to have a good financial adviser on board. Spectrum has been advising thousands of their clients for many years with the assistance of locally qualified tax experts on the subject of taxation, which you can see in the many other articles on this website.
Download your free guide to tax in Spain here.