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Taxes For Members

Is it better to do a joint or separate tax declaration if you're a couple in Spain?

The Local Spain
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Is it better to do a joint or separate tax declaration if you're a couple in Spain?
Should you file tax return in Spain jointly or separately? Photo: Kampus Production

The deadline for filing your Spanish annual income tax return is just a couple of months away, but working out whether to file jointly or as an individual can be tricky. Here's everything you need to know in order to help you decide.

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The tax season is upon us in Spain and there’s just a month and a half to file your annual tax returns for the year 2023.

The deadline for this year is July 1st 2024. 

As a general rule, anyone resident in Spain for more than 183 days who earned €22,000 or more or if it's their first time filing, needs to complete a tax return. If you're self-employed you must also file one, no matter how much you make. 

Figuring out how to complete your tax return, what deductions you can make and what to declare can be difficult, but on top of all this, if you’re married or in an established relationship, you’ll also need to decide whether you want to file your return individually or with your partner.

Generally, income tax returns must be declared individually, but the Agencia Tributaria (Spanish Tax Agency) does allow you to fill one out as a couple or a family unit, provided you meet certain criteria.

The Agencia Tributaria defines a family unit, in the case of marriage, as “spouses, not separated and if any, minor children, except for those who are independent”.

In the event that there is no marriage or you are separated, a family unit is defined as: “A father or mother and all their children who live with one of the two and who meet the required requirements”.

Remember, when filing the familial situation you take into account that which existed as of December 31st, 2023.

READ ALSO: The key changes to Spain's 2023/2024 annual tax return

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Is it better to fill out my tax return as an individual or as a couple?

Depending on your situation, you could end up paying more or less tax if you file as a couple rather than an individual. Joint returns can often mean you benefit from a series of tax reductions, but this option is not open to everyone and it may not always be beneficial to you.

Before you fill out your tax return, you’ll need to calculate whether it will be better for you to file on your own or with your spouse.

You can ask your gestor or your accountant to calculate this for you or you can use the tax income simulator. This is an online version of the Agencia Tributaria portal that makes it possible to create your declaration without actually having to submit your data, therefore you can work out which situation would be best for you. 

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Remember that if you decide to declare as a couple this year, you can always go back to filing individually next year, if you choose. Your circumstances change year on year, meaning that some years it may be beneficial for you to do a joint declaration, while other years it won’t.

When filing a joint return, keep in mind that it will include income of any kind obtained by all members of the family unit. If one of the members of the family unit files their income tax return individually, then the rest must also do the same. One spouse cannot choose to declare it on their own the other as a couple.

Generally speaking, if both spouses work, it's preferable to file individually. Joint taxation is preferable when only one of the spouses works. Make sure to check with your gestor or accountant that this is true in your case.

READ ALSO: What does a ‘gestor’ do in Spain and why you’ll need one

If you live and work in Spain, you’ll need to calculate whether it will be better for you to file on your own or with your spouse. Photo: Surface/Unsplash

What are the advantages of filing your tax return jointly? 

One of the main advantages of paying taxes jointly is the reduction. This means you are able to offset income gains and losses jointly. In theory, it could end up saving you a lot of money, but it could also end up costing you more too.

The basic personal allowance for each person under the age of 65 is €5,550, however, for joint declarations, the allowance of the second taxpayer is established at €3,400. The reduction for single-parent family units is €2,150 per year. Once you reach 65, the allowance rises to €6,700.

There is an additional personal allowance granted depending on the number of children you have. If you have one child it will be €2,400 and if you have two it's €2,700. The amount rises more for 3 or more. 

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Who can file a joint 2023-2024 Income Tax return?

According to the Agencia Tributaria, the following taxpayers can opt to declare their declaration jointly:

  • Spouses who are married and live with all their children under 18 or those who have been declared incapacitated when they become of legal age.
  • De facto couples - only one of the members can form a family unit with their minor children or disabled adults. The other member of the couple will have to make an individual declaration.
  • In those cases of divorce or separation, joint taxation will correspond to the person who has custody of the children on the date on which the Personal Income Tax (IRPF) is accumulated.
  • In those cases of shared custody, the option of joint taxation can be made by either of the two parents, and the other will have to make the declaration individually.

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