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Self-employed in Spain: six must-visit websites to apply for grants and benefits

Being autónomo in Spain has always been a tough gig, but the pandemic has tightened the screw for many more self-employed. Here are six websites through which SMEs and autónomos can get financing and government aid.  

A man walks past a closed British pub in Benidorm on June 1, 2020.
Many self-employed workers and SMEs have had to request government aid during the pandemic. Photo: José Jordan/AFP

Self-employed workers in Spain pay one of the highest monthly contribution rates in Europe, tend to receive state protection later than salaried workers and have to deal with complex bureaucratic processes throughout their careers. 

But whether through preference or necessity, around 3.2 million people in Spain are registered as self-employed. 

The fallout from the pandemic, spiralling energy costs and a higher consumer price index have contributed to making this year particularly hard for many autónomos

Fortunately, the benefits struggling self-employed workers have had access to during the pandemic have been extended until February 2022, and Spain is also set to receive €3 billion in EU funds for the digitization of businesses early next year.

So now is a particularly good time for self-employed workers in Spain to familiarise themselves with where they can claim grants and other aid from the Spanish government and other institutions.  

Here are six public organisations that offer grants and other financial incentives to self-employed people in Spain, some of which many foreign autónomos may never have heard of before.

If you have a gestor in Spain, you may want to run over these options with them in case they can advise you on the application process.

Ipyme 

This website belonging to Spain’s Ministry of Industry provides small and medium enterprises with information on the latest subsidies made available to them.

Click on the category Financiación, then scroll down and click on Ayudas e incentivos nacionales, where you’ll be directed to a search bar in which you’ll have to type your field of work to find available grants. 

SEPE 

Spain’s Public Employment Service (SEPE) is the state body that’s been charged with handling the country’s furlough scheme during the pandemic. 

Since 2014, Spain allows people claiming unemployment benefits to continue doing so whilst registering as self-employed and starting up their own business. 

There are also benefits and subsidies published on their website, with the English-language version again including some wonky translations.

Spain’s National Subsidy Publication System

Another portal in which to find government aid and subsidies for autónomos in Spain is the website of El Sistema Nacional de Publicidad de Subvenciones.

It’s here where you’ll be able to find the latest convocatorias, the announcement that public aid has been made available for a certain period.

As is often the case with Spanish government websites, it’s not the most user-friendly, but luckily there is an English-language search engine which isn’t perfectly translated but may help some of you. 

ICO

Spain’s Official Credit Institute, El Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO), is an organisation through which self-employed workers can request guarantees, loans and social bonds to boost their business.

ICO loans can be used to pay wages, utility bills, rental costs, to have circulating capital or pay taxes and meet other payment obligations. 

To apply for any of these, self-employed workers have to present a written document explaining the reasons for their request at one of the banks associated with ICO, which you can find out more about here

Foreign companies can also apply for ICO loans and other services.

Spain’s Chamber of Commerce 

The Cámara de Comercio offers new entrepreneurs and self-employed workers in Spain the chance to find grants with which to start a business, update their business as well as training courses for themselves or their employees. Here is the English-language version

You should also check the website of your region’s chamber of commerce as they may offer other incentives for businesses and autónomos.

Spanish Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs

The website of La Confederación Española de Jóvenes Empresarios (CEAJE) is as the name suggests aimed at self-employed workers in the country under the age of 41.

CEAJE offers its members free financial consultancy services and a handy comparison of all the grants and incentives available to younger autónomos. Even though it’s only in Spanish, their website contains a lot of useful information.

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WORKING IN SPAIN

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.

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