Taxes in Spain: A Comprehensive Guide for Residents and Non-Residents

Understanding taxes in Spain is crucial for anyone earning income within its borders. This guide answers the primary question, ‘How will I be taxed?’ – by exploring tax obligations for residents and non-residents, detailing tax rates, clarifying filing procedures, and highlighting ways to reduce your tax burden.
March 22, 2024
Dean Fankhauser
March 22, 2024

Understanding taxes in Spain is crucial for anyone earning income within its borders. This guide answers the primary question, ‘How will I be taxed?’ – by exploring tax obligations for residents and non-residents, detailing tax rates, clarifying filing procedures, and highlighting ways to reduce your tax burden.

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish tax residents are subject to taxation on global income in two main income categories, and severe penalties are imposed for tax evasion.
  • Progressive tax rates apply to individuals with differences in employment, savings, and investment income taxation, allowing for various deductions and exemptions.
  • Both residents and non-residents must consider capital gains, wealth taxes, and the possibility of double taxation treaties that can impact their fiscal responsibilities in Spain.

Understanding the Spanish Tax System

Spanish Tax System

Understanding the complexities of the Spanish tax system requires careful study. The system aims to finance public services and redistribute wealth, making it imperative for individuals living, working, or investing in Spain to understand their tax obligations for tax purposes. As a tax resident, you are subject to taxation on your global income. Income is classified into two categories: general income, which includes wages, business, and rental income, and savings income, which encompasses interest, dividends, and capital gains.

The tax authority persistently pursues tax evaders, particularly among digital nomads and remote workers, with severe offenses potentially leading to jail terms.

Defining Tax Residency in Spain

Determining your tax residency status in Spain is the initial step in comprehending your tax responsibilities. You are considered a tax resident if you have lived in the country for more than six months in a year, regardless of continuity. Even if you don’t meet the 183-day threshold, if your main economic interests or family reside in Spain, you could still be considered a tax resident.

It’s worth noting that certain exemptions may apply, such as the Beckham Law, aimed at attracting foreign professionals to work in Spain.

The Scope of Personal Income Tax (IRPF)

After confirming your tax residency, it’s necessary to comprehend the Personal Income Tax (IRPF). This tax applies to your worldwide income if you are a tax resident in Spain. It’s also worth noting that Spanish tax residents are required to pay Spanish income tax on all UK pensions.

If you own property and receive rental income, this must be declared on your Spanish tax returns. To ensure accurate taxation, Spanish tax residents who have UK pensions should inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and submit a certificate of fiscal residency from the local Spanish tax office.

Corporate Tax Essentials

For businesses, understanding Corporate Tax (IS) is key. The tax applies to companies and other entities that are considered tax residents in Spain. These entities are subject to taxation on their worldwide income. A company is deemed a tax resident if it has been created under Spanish law and maintains its registered office or effective management office within the country.

The standard corporate tax rate is 25%, with business income defined as earnings derived from the operation of a trade or business. Costs directly linked to the functioning of the business, such as rent, salaries, and supplies, are deductible from the gross income to determine the taxable income.

Tax Rates and Brackets for Individuals

Tax Rates and Brackets for Individuals

With a fundamental grasp of the Spanish tax system, we can now proceed to discuss the specifics of tax rates and brackets for individuals. The Spanish tax system operates on a progressive scale, with different rates for employment income, savings income, and investment income.

It’s important to understand how these rates apply to you, as they directly affect your tax liability.

Impact on Employment Income

Employment income is subject to progressive tax rates in Spain, which consider the amount and type of income you earn. Regional variations can also influence the tax you pay on employment income, and capital gains and losses can affect your taxable employment income.

Social security deductions and pension contributions, which have general contribution rates of 23.6% for employees and 31.20% for self-employed people, further reduce Spanish employment income. The personal allowance for employment income in Spain typically stands at EUR 5,550, providing a significant reduction in tax liability.

Treatment of Savings and Investment Income

Spain follows a unique structure in the taxation of savings and investment income. Some key points to note are:

  • Interest and dividends are taxed based on fixed rates, which can vary depending on the taxable income amount of the savings.
  • Specific exemptions and deductions are available on savings and investment income.
  • There is an exemption for capital gains from the transfer of shares in newly formed companies.

Furthermore, interest income tax is exempt for EU citizens, and taxation on investment interest and dividends can be minimized through double taxation agreements.

Capital Gains and Wealth Taxes

Local market scene illustrating Capital Gains and Wealth Taxes

Now, let’s shift our focus to capital gains and wealth taxes. Capital gains refer to the profit earned from the sale or exchange of a capital asset. As a tax resident, you are obliged to pay capital gains tax on any worldwide assets you dispose of, while non-residents are only required to pay Spanish capital gains tax on gains made from the sale of Spanish property.

Wealth tax, on the other hand, is levied on individuals possessing substantial global assets who are living in Spain, with tax rates ranging from 0.2% to 3.5% based on the total asset value.

Selling Property and Paying Capital Gains Tax

Understanding the complexities of property sales and capital gains tax can be complex. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • If you are a Spanish resident, you are subject to a capital gains tax rate ranging between 19% and 24% on property sales.
  • For non-residents, the tax rate is 19% for those from EU/EEA countries and 24% for those from other countries.
  • There are specific exemptions and deductions that may apply, particularly in the case of selling your primary residence or reinvesting gains in certain assets.

Wealth Tax: Who Pays and How Much?

The Spanish wealth tax is imposed on individuals whose assets and holdings are greater than €3 million. While it’s a national tax, the rates for wealth tax can differ based on the autonomous community where you are located. For instance, in Extremadura, rates can go up to 3.75%, while Madrid offers a 100% exemption.

Specific personal factors, like the 60% rule that limits the wealth tax payable in specific situations, can have a substantial impact on the amount of wealth tax that is owed.

Avoiding Double Taxation: Treaties and Agreements

global map with tax treaties marked

One potential difficulty when dealing with taxes abroad is the risk of double taxation on the same income. To prevent this, Spain has established numerous double taxation treaties with other countries. These treaties ensure that income is only taxed in one of the countries, relieving the individual from the burden of double taxation.

These agreements cover a wide range of income types, including:

  • dividends
  • interest
  • royalties
  • capital gains

The treaties also provide a mechanism for resolving disputes and ensuring that the rights of taxpayers are protected.

Non-Resident Tax Considerations

For non-residents in Spain, there are particular tax considerations to keep in mind. Non-residents are only required to pay taxes on income earned within Spain. This includes employment income, rental income, and other income sourced within Spain.

The fixed income tax rate for non-residents is 24%, or 19% for individuals who hold citizenship in a country within the European Union or the European Economic Area.

Income Obtained in Spain by Non-Residents

For non-residents, income earned in Spain is taxed at a flat rate. This includes employment income and other Spanish-sourced income. If you own property in Spain and receive rental income, be aware that a 24% tax will be levied on the total rental income, with no allowances for expenses.

It’s worth noting that non-residents from EU or EEA countries are subject to a uniform tax rate of 19%, while those from non-EU countries are subject to a rate of 24% on their income generated in Spain.

Property Ownership and Fiscal Obligations

If you’re a non-resident and own property in Spain, there are fiscal obligations to consider. This includes:

  • Property tax for non-residents, also referred to as imputed income tax
  • Local property taxes
  • Tax on rental income if you choose to rent out your Spanish properties.

The property tax rate for non-residents ranges from 0.4% to 1.3% for urban properties, and when selling a property, the tax rate is 19%.

Filing Tax Returns in Spain

Submitting your tax return in Spain is a necessary part of meeting your tax obligations. Whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, understanding the process and meeting the deadlines is crucial to avoiding penalties.

Preparing Your Tax Return: Key Steps

The process of preparing and submitting your tax return involves a few important steps. These include gathering the necessary documents, such as the original DNI (Spanish National ID card) or a photocopy of the ID for all individuals included in the tax return. US expats may need to file additional forms, such as the FBAR or Form 8938 for foreign accounts.

The tax return is submitted electronically through the tax authority’s official website using a digital identification certificate.

Special Situations: Reporting Foreign Assets

If you’re a Spanish tax resident and have assets abroad exceeding €50,000, you’re required to report these to the Spanish government by March 31st of each year. Non-compliance can lead to hefty penalties, including fines and a penalty of 150% of the tax due for severe offences.

Deductions and Credits to Lower Your Tax Bill

You can lower your tax bill in Spain through a variety of tax deductions and credits. These range from employment expenses to donations to charities or foundations, as well as deductible expenditures such as mortgage interest, repairs, and renewals.

Maximizing Personal Allowances

In Spain, personal allowances can greatly lower your tax obligation. These allowances depend on factors such as age, with individuals under 65 years of age entitled to a basic personal allowance of €5,550. For taxpayers over 65 years of age, this allowance is increased to €6,700.

Other factors, such as your family situation, including having dependents, can also influence your personal allowances and deductions.

Incentives for Sustainable Living and Charitable Giving

Spain also provides tax benefits for adopting sustainable practices and making charitable donations. For instance, investing in sustainable initiatives, like installing solar panels, can lead to a reduction in tax liability through a tax deduction equivalent to 20% of the installation cost. Charitable donations can also potentially reduce your tax bill, with a deduction of 80% available for the first €150 donated and 35% for the remainder of the donated amount.

Inheritance, Gift Tax, and Other Levies

Visual representation of financial regulations for other levies

Both residents and non-residents in Spain are subject to inheritance and gift tax. This tax is imposed on the transfer of property through a gift or inheritance, while non-residents are only taxed on assets located in Spain.

Other levies include property transfer tax and the local authority charge known as plus valia, imposed on the rise in the value of the land during the sale of a property.

Understanding VAT in Spain

Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido (IVA) or Value-Added Tax (VAT) in Spain is another fundamental component of the Spanish tax system. Spain has three main IVA rates, with the standard rate at 21%, a reduced rate at 10%, and a super-reduced rate at 4%.

In 2021, the government increased the IVA from 10% to 21% on alcoholic and sweetened beverages. This change impacted the prices of these products for consumers.

Social Security and Pension Contributions

All workers in Spain are required to contribute to Social Security and pensions. The general social security contribution rate is 31.20% for self-employed individuals and 30.6% for employees with a monthly social security wage base between €960.60 and €4,139.40.

Pension contributions are calculated based on earnings and years of contributions, and eligibility for pension begins at the age of 65, with a minimum contribution period of 37 years and 9 months.


Navigating the Spanish tax system can seem daunting at first, with its myriad of taxes, rates, and brackets. However, with the right knowledge and guidance, it’s possible to understand your tax obligations, whether you’re a resident, a non-resident, an employee, or a business owner. From income tax and corporate tax to capital gains, wealth tax, and VAT, this guide has covered the key aspects of the Spanish tax system to help you navigate your way through your fiscal responsibilities in Spain.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much tax do you pay in Spain?

In Spain, tax rates are progressive and start at 7.65% for income up to 7,993 EUR, increasing up to 34% for income over 797,555 EUR. Non-residents are only taxed on assets located in Spain.

Are taxes high in Spain?

Yes, taxes are high in Spain, with the tax burden exceeding 42% of GDP in 2022, which is above the EU average of 41.7% as of 2021.

Is there a tax in Spain for foreigners?

Yes, non-residents in Spain pay a flat tax rate of 24% (non-EU citizens) or 19% (EU or EEA citizens) on their income generated in Spain. Residents pay progressive taxes.

Do US expats pay taxes in Spain?

Yes, US expats living in Spain are required to file tax returns with both the Spanish government and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US.

What are the main types of taxes applicable in Spain?

In Spain, the main types of taxes that are applicable include income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, wealth tax, and Value-Added Tax (VAT). These are the key taxes individuals and businesses need to be aware of.

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