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TAX

Do I really need to declare foreign assets to Spanish taxman by March 31st 2022?

The deadline is fast approaching for residents in Spain to file a Modelo 720 – a declaration to the Spanish taxman of assets held abroad. There are big changes this year to the rules and fines, read on to find out what they are.

Do I really need to declare foreign assets to Spanish taxman by March 31st 2022?
Photo: AndreyPopov/Depositphotos

You may think it is none of the Spanish taxpayers business what assets you hold abroad, but the 720 asset declaration form was introduced in 2012 as a way to combat money laundering and fiscal fraud.

It applies equally to Spanish citizens and foreigners legally resident in Spain and is for information purposes only. In other words, you won’t be expected to pay tax on assets held abroad but can be fined if you don’t declare them.

March 31st deadline


Photo: zerbour/Depositphotos

The form must be filed online between January 1st and March 31st relating to the assets held abroad in the last calendar year.

Once filed you do not need to repeat annually unless your circumstances change.

Who has to file a modelo 720?

If  you fall into one of the following three groups you will need to file a 720:

  • If you have accounts – bank savings and deposit accounts –  held abroad where the sum of all the accounts together exceeds €50,000.
  • You have other assets and private pensions that are held abroad and exceed €50,000. This includes stocks and shares, bonds, life insurance, pension plans and annuities that are currently being paid. You are in this category if they have either a total value or a surrender value on the 31st December of the previous year of €50,000 or more.
  • You have a property with a purchase value of over €50,000. This includes owning a private property or business premises.

If the assets are held in joint names, then each individual needs to submit a report and declare the total value and their share.

Changes in circumstances

You are NOT required to complete the modelo 720 every year but you will need to complete it again if your assets have changed during the course of the last calendar year.

These are:

  • If you have purchased or sold property abroad
  • If your investments have matured
  • If you have cancelled previously declared assets
  • If you declared last year in one category but this year have reached more than €50,000 in a previously undeclared category
  • Your assets have increased by €20,000 in any given group previously declared

Exchange rate


 Photo: david_franklin/Depositphotos

 

Remember to factor in the exchange rate as it was on December 31st.

The value of your assets will fluctuate according to the exchange rate, so you may find yourself tipping over the required €50K threshold because of a favourable exchange rate.

So, if you are on the way to approaching the threshold, remember to check what your assets are worth in Euros.

What’s new for 2022? 

Following the recent EU ruling that Spain’s ‘Modelo 720’ foreign assets declaration form was “extremely repressive” and breached community rules, the Spanish government has actually listened and in February voted in favour of more lenient fines and conditions.

Previously, income abroad that was not declared, or which was reported after the March 31st deadline, would be treated as an unjustified capital gain and the wrongdoer would receive a penalty of up to 150 percent of the value of the amount.

These fines could exceed the real value of the assets declared after the deadline, since they were set at an amount of €1,500 for each group of goods affected, or €5,000 for undeclared or incorrectly recorded data, with a minimum of €10,000 per group.

This year, Spanish Members of Parliament voted for the maximum fines to be reduced from 150 percent of the value of the undeclared assets to a maximum of 50 percent of the value.  

The fine for non-completion will also be in line with other tax fines and the duty to declare assets will expire after four tax years. 

Crucially, those who have been fined for breaching Spain’s foreign asset declaration laws can be reimbursed. The MO varies, depending on whether the plaintiff has already appealed or not before the deadline.

It remains unclear if the changes include a grace period for delayed and erroneous declarations as promised.

Fines

Penalties for not filling the Modelo 720 correctly or making a mistake on it have now been reduced to a fine of €100 for each data set, with a maximum of €1,500 if the declaration is filed late, without prior request. 

Fines for not declaring – a maximum of 50 percent of the value of your assets. 

I haven’t filed but should have, so what do I do?


Photo: AlexShadyUK/Depositphotos

If you are newly arrived in Spain – within the last year – and are filing your taxes for the first time then the 720 declaration should be straightforward. It may depend on what date you moved to Spain, however you should always be declaring the assets held on December 31st of the previous year. 

Same if you have only just crossed over into the €50,000 threshold.

But if you have been living here for longer than a year and realise that you should have filed a modelo 720 but didn’t, the legal advice is don’t put it off again.

Whilst fines have been reduced, if you’re ‘discovered’ for not declaring your assets they’re still steep, so for peace of mind if nothing else, it’s best to come clean.

It’s worth knowing that there are no reports of fines being levied since the EU declared them illegal in February 2017

Speak to a tax specialist if you have any doubts about what to do.

More information:

All information about the “modelo 720” including the online form can be found (in Spanish) at the Tax Office website HERE.

Member comments

  1. This article has certainly given us doubts as to what to do. We weren’t tax residents of Spain in 2020 and aren’t filing a tax form in Spain now, but expect to be tax residents of Spain in 2021. Do we submit the modelo 720 now for 2020 or wait until we file tax forms in 2022?

    The FAQs from the Agencia Tributaria don’t directly address this basic question.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it's second hand

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.

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