‘Spain is a bureaucratic paradise’

In the latest instalment of My Spanish career, The Local spoke to Valeriya Zaytseva. Born in Moscow in 1986, she co-founded Smartaxi, an award winning app, which helps taxi drivers find customers easily.

'Spain is a bureaucratic paradise'
Moscovite, Valeriya Zaytseva loves life in Valencia.Photo: Agustin Millan

Why did you decide to settle in Valencia?

After a degree in Maths, I wanted to do my Masters in statistics in Europe because it is well regarded to study abroad in Russia. My first thought was to go to England, because I can speak English. But instead, I went to Spain, though. Lloret de Mar was the first place I visited, although it sounds a pretty weird choice now that I know the country better. I started studying Spanish when I arrived in 2011 and picked it up quickly while studying at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and so finally settled here.

What are the advantages of living in Valencia?

I love my life here, I never thought I would stay so long. There are plenty of little things that make me feel very comfortable in Valencia compared to Moscow; The weather, the beach is very near from the University and I can walk to work everyday. It´s also a very relaxed way of life, which I think makes it easier to handle the daily stress.

You have set up some start-ups in Moscow, do you think it is easy to be an entrepreneur in Spain?

I have set up business both in Russia and Spain. I would say that compared to Russia, Spain is a bureaucratic paradise! In Moscow every step of the process is slower. There´s a lot of paperwork and you must be there in person to fill out every form. On the other hand, setting up your business in Moscow is cheaper because you pay fewer taxes.

Can you tell us about your app, Smartaxi?

The idea began as a final project of my Master studies, where I met my partner Federico López. Mathematics is my thing so I developed the statistics data parts. The app provides taxi drivers real time information about potential customers. Smartaxi is a tool to improve productivity and we are testing it in Moscow and Barcelona. We have some major investors involved with it, Principia tech Valencia, created by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and UPV (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia), Wayra (Telefónica startup accelerator) and the American Plug and Play.

Any other business ideas on the horizon?

I enjoy doing new and different things. Now I'm involved in ‘Salir con Arte’, an activity to show that everybody can paint. And it’s true because I had never attempted to paint before and I believe painting helps to express yourself. I have been working with the art teacher, Noelia, to develop this activity in a relaxed atmosphere. We had over 30 people in our first gathering in Ruzafa neighbourhood in Valencia. Now we are planning to do it in Madrid and Barcelona.

Interview by Agustin Millan, a Spanish journalist student based in Valencia











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Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I’m a contract employee?

If you’re employed by a company in Spain, you may have noticed that what you get paid each month is sometimes higher and other times lower. Here's why this happens and how you can understand it better.

Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I'm a contract employee?

Many asalariados (salaried employees) across Spain will have noticed that their wages at the beginning of 2022 may have been lower than that net salary they received at the end of 2021.

This is in fact usually not down to error, but comes as a result of your company withholding a higher amount of personal income tax (IRPF) at the start of the year, resulting in you getting paid less.

Companies in Spain are obliged to withhold a certain percentage of your salary called IRPF (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas).

This, in turn, gets passed on to Spain’s Hacienda tax agency. Your gross salary and personal circumstances mean that the income tax withheld will vary.

Your employer will calculate the amount of your gross salary you must pay to the Treasury as personal income tax and will deduct it from your payroll month by month. This can be done between the 12 or 14 salary payments per year.

Alternatively, a lower percentage of tax may be applied in the first months of the year, which is then adjusted by raising it in the final few months of the year, or vice versa, which is why fluctuations can occur.

You should keep in mind that if at the beginning of the year you received a raise, had a baby or opened a pension plan, it may mean that the tax withheld from your company will go up or down. Having a new baby for example gives you a reduction.  

What if I believe there is an error in my IRPF calculations?

If you still believe there is an error, this can be rectified whilst filing your annual income tax return – la declaración de la renta – which you should each year between April and June.

READ ALSO – La Renta: The important income tax deadlines in Spain in 2022

If you receive an annual gross salary of less than €22,000, you are not required to fill out an annual tax declaration, but may want to do so if you believe that your employer has been deducting too much tax. If the error is found in your favour, Spain’s tax agency will return your overpaid tax.

How can I find out how much tax will be deducted in advance?

If you want to be prepared and find out exactly how much tax your company will deduct from your salary each month, you can fill out this tax calculator for 2022 found on the Hacienda website. This will let you know exactly how much IRPF should be deducted from your wage, depending on your personal circumstances. 

Your employer may also ask you to fill out the form Modelo 145 to help them work out how much tax you should pay.

The form will ask you for your current personal situation such as marital status, if you have children or other dependents. Depending on the outcome of this, you may get further discounts on the amount of tax that is withheld.