Spanish Minister of the Treasury and Public Function Cristóbal Montoro has weighed into the issue of Catalan independence with a stark warning to companies based in Catalunya: Continue to pay taxes to Spain after the referendum or face the penalties.
Spanish Minister of the Treasury and Public Function Cristóbal Montoro. Photo: Oscar Del Pozo/AFP
“In the case of taxes whose management corresponds to the State, the AEAT (Spanish tax authorities) could initiate verification procedures, liquidate the tax liability and impose sanctions, as well as enforce the amount of the debt,” said the ministry in a statement on Monday September 4th.
Minister Montoro's intervention came less than 24 hours after Catalunya's separatist government said it was ready to tax local revenue and has set up structures to prepare to tax local companies following the October 1st referendum vote on secession from Spain this year.
Montoro said companies that paid their tax to the Catalan revenue authority instead of to the Spanish authority would be engaging in “behaviors” that “could constitute a crime against the Treasury.”
Montoro's is the latest intervention by a string of senior Spanish political figures to try and stop Catalunya from becoming independent later this year. Spain strongly opposes the referendum and the idea of Catalan independence and has said it will employ all measures necessary to stop it happening.
A Spanish court ruled in February that the referendum was illegal and “unconstitutional.” In late July, the Spanish government filed an appeal to Spain's constitutional court to block the October 1st referendum.
The ruling Catalan coalition that called for a referendum on independence in Catalunya in October has said it will declare independence immediately after the vote if the outcome is “yes” to secession from Spain.
Several high profile figures recently “stepped aside” from Carles Puidgemnont's Catalan coalition without stating why in July this year.
Most polls say the referendum is too close to call, but a recent Catalan government poll says a small majority of Catalans favour remaining with Spain.