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ENGLISH SPEAKING LAWYERS IN MALAGA (ANDALUCIA / COSTA DEL SOL) SPECIALIZED IN PROPERTY LAW & CONVEYANCING

Archive for Inheritance Tax

INHERITANCE TAX NOW ALSO THE SAME FOR EU- AND NON-EU CITIZENS

saving for non-EU citizens in the spanish inheritance tax

Spanish inheritance tax now the same for EU- and non-EU members

As we stated in our post in February 2015, on 01/01/2015, the regulations governing Inheritance Tax were amended,  EU citizens began paying the same Inheritance Tax as citizens resident in Spain. From that time EU citizens were able to pay tax in accordance with the regulations of the Autonomous Community where the assets are located. Remember that these regulations are much more beneficial than national regulations on Inheritance Tax, which were applied to EU citizens until that date. This amendment left non-EU citizens out, which were required to continue paying tax according to national regulations.

Supreme Court rules in favour of Non-EU members

However, two judgments of the Supreme Court, in February and March 2018, referring to residents in non-EU countries such as Canada or Switzerland, determined that there would be discrimination contrary to the free movement of capital if non-EU citizens were not allowed to opt for regional regulations in the same manner as EU citizens. Therefore, these non-EU citizens should also be treated in the same manner as EU citizens in terms of Inheritance and Donations Tax, also being eligible to receive regional tax benefits.

We should add that the free movement of capital is enshrined in article 63 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which prohibits all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States and between Member States and third countries, making the limitations for non-EU citizens in terms of Inheritance Tax contrary to the regulations of the European Union.

Since September 2018, the Spanish Tax Agency decided to comply with these rulings and started accepting settlements of Inheritance Tax for non-EU citizens, applying the regulations of the relevant autonomous community to these.

Benefits of tax calculations by Autonomous Communities

This change in tax criteria represents significant savings in terms of inheritance for non-EU citizens, as it should be noted that, in most Autonomous Communities in Spain -including Andalusia-, a widowed spouse, children and descendants, such as grandchildren, barely pay any Inheritance Tax, as they are eligible for significant bonuses. These bonuses in Andalusia were explained in detail in our article from January 2018.

Possibility to reclaim tax until four years back

Suffice it to say that this tax change opens the door to claims from non-EU heirs who have paid Inheritance and Donations Tax over the last few years, if a comparison between national and regional regulations were to show that they paid much more than an EU citizen would have. This claim may be filed provided that the right to claim has not been time-barred, the deadline being established at four years after the payment was made.

Brexit and British citizens

As a last note, considering the consequences of Brexit for British citizens with properties and assets in Spain, fortunately, even if they remain outside the European Union and would be considered non-EU citizens, they would be able to continue to benefit from bonuses and discounts in Inheritance and Donations Tax in the same manner as before.

It should be noted that there are many British homeowners and buyers with properties in Spain and, at least, their heirs will not be harmed in terms of taxes payable in a future inheritance procedure.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Malaga, lawyer)

NON-MARRIED LONGEST LIVING PAYS HIGH INHERITANCE TAX

Inheritance tax Andalusian

Inheritance tax in Andalusia

THE CURRENT SITUATION OF INHERITANCE TAX

On 1 January 2018, a new reform of Inheritance Tax entered into force in Andalusia, the main change of which was to raise the tax-exempt amount to one million euros. This new reform changes the reform introduced a year ago, which we explained in our post of November 2016.


Which heirs would be exempt from Inheritance Tax?

Heirs that meet each one of the following requirements would be exempt:

  • For the heir to be included in groups I and II as established in the regulation governing this tax, the heir needs to be the spouse, child, grandchild or parent of the deceased
  • For the value of the estate to be inherited per heir does not exceed one million euros
  • For the pre-existing assets of the heir to be less than one million euros
  • For the heir to be a citizen of a Member State of the European Union or, if they are citizen from outside the European Union, both the deceased and the heir must reside in Andalusia


What happens with other family members who inherit?

All other heirs, such as siblings, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts and cousins of the deceased are included in groups III and IV of the Inheritance Tax and will continue to pay the same amounts.

In other words, these heirs will pay inheritance tax from the first euro they inherit except for heirs in group III, who are able to deduct an amount of 7,993.46 euros. This means, for example, that if John leaves his nephew his Nerja property valued at 240,000 euros as inheritance, his nephew will have to pay about 63,000 euros in Inheritance Tax.


What happens if you inherit from your best friend?

You would be included in group IV of this regulation. This means that if John, instead of leaving the 240,000-euro property to his nephew leaves it to his best friend, he or she will have to pay about 80,000 euros in Inheritance Tax.

 

How are property values calculated for Inheritance Tax?

Every year, the Regional Government of Andalusia publishes a regulation that establishes certain coefficients to update the values of urban properties located in Andalusia. These coefficients are applied to the cadastral value of the property; this you can find in your Property Tax receipts. The result of applying these coefficients to the cadastral value is what we call the minimum taxable value.

The regulation explained above deals with the minimum taxable value of urban property but, in the case of rural property, this isn´t applicable. Therefore it is necessary to obtain a valuation from the technicians of the Regional Government of Andalusia to calculate the minimum taxable value. However, the Regional Government of Andalusia in the province of Malaga uses the coefficients published every year by the College of Architects of Malaga to calculate the value of rural properties.

Regarding the means used by the administration to calculate the minimum taxable value of properties in Andalusia –as well as other Autonomous Communities–, there is much controversy in general and there is the possibility to challenge those values in the event that the person liable to pay the tax deems them excessive or not adjusted to reality. This topic is complex enough to be covered in a whole new article.


UNMARRIED OR UNREGISTERED COUPLES IN ANDALUSIA

Who are we talking about?

In the event that a couple is not married –either in their country of origin or in Spain–, if one of them dies and leaves the other member of the couple as an heir, for the purposes of Inheritance Tax this person would be considered to be in group IV. In other words, in this case the partner is considered to be just a friend putting the person in the group with the highest rate of Inheritance Tax.


What happens to common-law partners registerd in Andalucia?

In Andalusia, couples registered in the Registry of Common-Law Partners of Andalusia are equivalent to married couples for the purposes of Inheritance Tax, for which reason they would benefit from the deductions for spouses explained above.


What happens to common-law partners registered in another Member State of the European Union?

In this case, the Regional Government of Andalusia does not recognise such registration for the purpose of Inheritance Tax, for which reason those couples would pay tax as though they had received inheritance from a friend, leaving them in the group taxed at the highest rate.

If John leaves his partner Mark 50% of the property they both purchased in Almuñecar in 2005 and if the fiscal value of that 50% is 120,000 euros, Mark, the heir, would have to pay about 30,000 euros in Inheritance Tax for inheriting 50% of that property.

If John and Mark had been married or registered in the registry of common-law partners of Andalusia, Mark would not pay a single euro for inheriting 50% of the property from John.


What should be done in this case?

If you have property in Spain with your partner and you would like him or her to inherit your part and you are unmarried, we advise that you get married (either in Spain or in your country of origin) so that you can benefit from Inheritance Tax reductions. Those who don´t want to get married, can register themselves in the Registry of Common-Law Partners of Andalusia (Registro de Pareja de Hecho) and then the status would be equivalent to that of a married couple.

Property owners who are not citizens of a Member State of the European Union

In this case, heirs may not benefit from reductions for spouses, children, grandchildren and parents of the deceased, so they would pay Inheritance Tax in the event that they inherit. They can only avoid this if both the deceased and the heir are resident in Andalusia.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo (C&D Solicitors / Lawyers, Torrox Málaga)

INHERITANCE TAX IN ANDALUSIA: CHANGES AHEAD

inheritance tax paid by the heirs

inheritance tax paid by the heirs

On 1 August, the Regional Government of Andalusia approved the first of two reforms of inheritance tax in Andalusia. This reform and the upcoming one aim to improve taxation for heirs.

The first reform affected the acquisition of a person's usual residence by heirs and a series of reductions were approved, ranging from 100% to 95% when the value of the home exceeds €242,000. The reduction in inheritance tax in this sense is very significant.

However, it should be noted that only in estates inherited from parents by children (whether biological or adopted), spouses, relatives in the ascending line and persons related collaterally (siblings, cousins or grandparents) over the age of 65 can an heir in Andalusia opt for the reduction for the acquisition of the usual residence. Likewise, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Having lived with the deceased person in the usual residence during the two years preceding death.
  2. Maintaining ownership of this residence for 3 years.

Furthermore, the Regional Government of Andalusia has announced that it would complete a second reform of Inheritance Tax, which will enter into force on 1 January 2017.

In this case, the minimum exempt from Inheritance Tax in Andalusia will be of €250,000 per heir. I.e. heirs inheriting assets valued at an amount equal to or smaller than €250,000 will not have to pay Inheritance Tax in Andalusia.

As explained in a previous article, this exemption only applies to descendants or adopted children of the deceased person, as well as their relatives in the ascending line or adoptive parents and spouses, provided the pre-existing assets of the heir are equal to or less than €402,678.11.

Lastly, another substantial change should be noted as, for estates with a value of between €250,000 and €350,000, a minimum value of €200,000 is established. I.e. if the inheritance received by a child or widowed spouse is valued at more than €250,000, the first €200,000 would be exempt from inheritance tax and only the remaining amount would be paid, provided that the total value of the estate does not exceed €350,000. If this amount is exceeded, inheritance tax would be payable on the entire value of the estate, without the possibility to apply any exemption.

Lastly, I would like to remind you that the best way to plan your inheritance begins with your will, for which reason it is always best to go to an appropriate professional who can examine your situation and give you personal advice.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors, Malaga, Andalusia.

 

 

DON’T FORGET YOUR WILL IN SPAIN WITH THE NEW EUROPEAN REGULATION

Renewing Spanish will 2015

Renewing Spanish will 2015

We wouldn't want to ruin your day by talking about the “other life”, which we hope is a long way away (fingers crossed). However, because of the European Succession Regulation approved on 27 July 2012 and its upcoming application for the succession of people who die after 17 August 2015, I think it convenient to dedicate a few words to foreigners with assets in Spain.

As a starting point, this regulation establishes which jurisdiction applies to the assets of a EU national in a country of the European Union. The law applicable to the succession of a EU national, according to this Regulation, would be that of the country of habitual residence, with the ability to choose to apply the Law of his or her nationality provided that the deceased has stated this clearly and unequivocally in his or her will.

When it comes to Spain, if you are a national of a different country in the European Union but you reside and own assets in Spain, you must know that, if you do not have a Spanish will that clearly and unequivocally states that you would like the law governing your succession to be that of your nationality at the time of death, Spanish law will apply to your inheritance. What does this mean?

In Spain, there is no liberty to leave your property as inheritance to whomever you want. In Spain, the assets of the deceased are divided into three parts. Two of these parts belong to forced heirs, as follows:

  • The first part goes to each of the children in equal parts or, in the absence of children, to parents or, in the absence of the latter, to siblings.
  • The second part goes to one of the children or, if nothing has been set out, it is divided among all children in equal parts as well, as explained above.
  • The third and last part of an inheritance is the freely disposable part and this is the part that the deceased can leave to whomever he or she wishes but, to do this, there must be a will establishing this because, in the absence of a will, it will also be divided among the children in equal parts.

In Spain, a spouse comes last among forced heirs and would only inherit in the absence of these. In other words, if you are a foreigner in Spain and you reside and hold assets in our country, be aware that, if you die without a will or your will doesn't clearly state that you would like the law of your nationality to apply, your spouse will probably inherit nothing.

The best way to prevent problems of this type is for you to execute a will in Spain and clearly state the Law you would like to apply at the time of your death.

If you happen to have a will in Spain already, it is important for you to review it and verify that it complies with the provisions of the European Succession Regulation or, in other words, that the will you have signed clearly states that your will is for the law governing your succession to be your personal law, i.e. the law of your nationality at the time of your death.

In my opinion, wills that state that “this will is valid pursuant to the personal law of the testator and said law does not cover the concept of forced heirs...” or contain similar words may cause problems under the New Regulation and, in these cases, my recommendation is to execute a new one that clearly states that you would like your succession to be governed by the law of your nationality.

I would like to clarify something that is often confused in these matters. The law governing the succession of a person in Spain is one thing, which depends on what has been explained in this article, but the tax consequences of succession in Spain are an entirely different matter. In this case, we're referring to Inheritance Tax, which is regulated as explained in our post from March , as payment of that Tax will be due from the fact of inheriting an asset located in Spain, regardless of the Law governing your succession.

Lastly, we wish that you live for many years and you don't have to worry too much about such unpleasant matters.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Lawyer)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

INHERITANCE TAX IN SPAIN: WE ARE ALREADY EUROPEAN!

Inheritance tax in Spain

Inheritance tax in Spain

In our post of last March on Inheritance and Donation Tax, we discussed about the fact that European non-resident citizens in Spain were experiencing discrimination against resident citizens, because, under the same circumstances, they had to pay more taxes than resident taxpayers.

This unequal treatment happened when the deceased or beneficiaries were non-resident in Spain and they paid taxes in conformance with a State regulation which was more detrimental than the regional one, which was only applied to resident citizens.

This discrimination was confirmed by the European Court of Justice ruling dated 03rd of September 2014, which resolved this issue and established that Spain was infringing the free movement of capital within the EU, because of this separate treatment between resident and non-resident citizens.

On the 1st of January 2015, in order to comply with the aforementioned judgment, the amendment of the State Inheritance Tax regulation has entered into force in Spain. A special scheme has been introduced in regards of the Inheritance Tax, so that non-resident citizens in Spain who are European residents may apply the regional regulation as residents already do, equating their situation.

This new regulation establishes that in the event that the deceased is a European non-resident in Spain, the European non-resident beneficiaries may apply the regional regulation where the most valuable assets are located in Spain. If the beneficiaries are resident in Spain, the regional regulations where they reside shall be applicable.

If the deceased has been a resident in a Spanish region and the beneficiaries are non-resident in Spain, the non-resident beneficiaries shall pay inheritance tax in conformance with the regional regulations where the deceased resided.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that the collection of the Inheritance and Donation Tax in Spain is assigned to regional governments, so that they are free to set forth their own regulations.

The effect of this assignment is that the amount to be paid for this tax by Spanish residents may significantly vary depending on the region where they live. In fact, a fiscal “war” has arisen between regional governments as regards of this tax, because some people have decided to establish their residence in regions with a more favourable tax scheme in order to pay fewer taxes for inheritance and donations, particularly those with more valuable estates.

The most recent and famous case in Andalusia was that of the late Duchess of Alba, who was sentimentally related to Andalusia but not fiscally, because her residence for tax purposes was in Madrid. The main benefit of this fact is that her beneficiaries have had a tax saving of more than 90 million Euros in the Inheritance Tax.

Since non-resident citizens will also enjoy the same Inheritance Tax regulation than resident citizens and considering that the regulation to be applied is that of the region where the most valuable assets are located, this unequal treatment between regions will also affect them.

However, imagine that you are a non-resident in Spain, do not have any property, but you have some money in a bank entity in Spain. In this case, which regulation shall be applicable for your beneficiaries? It seems that the applicable regulation shall be that of the region where the bank registered office is located. Thus, it is not the same a bank entity with registered office in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, for instance. It has been said “it seems” above, because a definitive answer has not been obtained when contacting the Tax Administration Office in respect of this issue.

In short, these are good news for European foreign citizens and their beneficiaries, and welcome to the regional regulatory “chaos” in respect of Inheritance and Donation Tax.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyer)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

SPANISH INHERITANCE TAX: POSSIBLE CONDEMNATION AND CHANGES

Did you pay too much Spanish inheritance tax?

Have you paid too much Spanish inheritance tax?

Last 27th of March 2012, the European Commission pursued an action against Spain for the breach of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Agreement on the European Economic Area, as a result of the discrimination in respect of the Spanish inheritance and gift tax, since non-residents pay more taxes than residents under the same personal conditions.

Spanish inheritance tax is managed by Spanish autonomous regions, so there are significant differences from one region to another in respect of this taxation. Each regional administration has regulated this tax in a different way. However, if the taxpayer is a non-resident, the Central State Tax Administration Office is the competent body to collect this tax payment instead of the regional government tax office. Regional government regulations are much more favourable for taxpayers than central government tax rules, since regional administrations have established tax exemptions and reductions for the inheritance and gift tax.

However, these discriminatory situations between residents and non-residents in Spain also arise between residents of the different autonomous region. In fact, last 8th of May 2013, a court order from the Spanish Supreme Court established the illegality of the inheritance regulations of the Valencian autonomous region, because these regulations allow heirs residing in this region to benefit from tax reductions against those residing in other Spanish regions who do not enjoy from this benefit.

It is expected that in the future the Spanish Constitutional Court itself rules in this respect. Furthermore, upon consideration of this inequality legal situation, it is likely that the inheritance tax may be reformed in the medium and long term in order to balance differences among the different Spanish autonomous regions.

Regarding the action against Spain, last 8th of January the hearing for this proceedings was held before the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is very likely that a judgment may be pronounced in a few months in regards of this case. If this court order condemns Spain because of this discrimination, it may give rise to a right for reimbursement of undue taxes paid to all those non-residents in Spain who paid in the last 4 years the Spanish inheritance and gift tax, provided that this payment had been higher than the tax payment corresponding to residents belonging to this Spanish region under the same circumstances.

Taxpayers may claim within 4 years. This period starts to run from the date of tax payment. For this reason, in the event of a possible ruling condemning Spain in this regard in the following months, it is very important that all those non-residents in Spain, who paid inheritance and gift tax in the last 4 years,  check if their payment was higher than the one made by a resident in the same Spanish region. If that were the case, they should claim for the refunding before the end of this 4 years period. Once this period expires, they will not be entitled to it. The submission of this tax refund claim shall stop the 4 years expiry date while it is decided if Spain is condemned for this issue.

Our law firm is at your disposal to assist you in this matter. We would offer you our service on the basis of a “no win-no fee agreement” for the submission of the aforementioned tax refund claim before the Tax Authorities, that is, you would pay nothing to us if the public administration declines this first claim.

 

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (Lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

HOW TO AVOID TAX PENALTY FOR NON-RESIDENTS OWNING A SPANISH PROPERTY

Avoid penalty non-residents owning Spanish property

Recently, some of our clients have received notifications at our law firm from the Spanish Tax Office demanding the submission of a copy of their Spanish Income Tax return for fiscal Residents or their Income Tax Return for Non Residents with properties in Spain, which are compulsory to be filed in these cases and considering that Spanish Tax Authorities know they own or have owned a property in Spain.  Warning that failure to do it will be fined or will give them a penalty. This issue was formerly considered in a previous article published on our website.

These notifications are referred further back in time, that is, Tax Authorities request the submission of the aforementioned returns, whether they are fiscal residents or non-residents in Spain, for these years in which they have been owners of these properties. For example, we are recently dealing with a case in September in which Spanish Tax Authorities are demanding the last and enforceable Income Tax returns for Non Residents—Spanish IRNR— for the years ending 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

By means of these notifications, a tax management procedure is initiated aimed at controlling the submission of tax returns, self-assessments and data communications which are compulsory by law. By means of this procedure, Tax Authorities try to carry out the regularisation steps corresponding to these cases where taxpayers have failed to meet their tax liabilities, because they have not submitted their Income Tax returns for fiscal Residents (Spanish IRPF) or Income Tax returns for Non fiscal Residents (Spanish IRNR). You can get access to further information in English from Tax Authorities about these and others tax obligations for non residents at the Agencia Tributaria website.

It is also worth mentioning that the reception of these notifications, when they are duly served, suspends the limitation period in which Tax Authorities are entitled to recover what is claimed and for the periods referred in the notifications. In addition, they also suspends the limitation period to impose tax penalties resulting from the regularisation procedures applied to cases which are not subject to law. The aforementioned notification and subsequent settlement are accompanied by a tax penalty.

On a recent visit to the tax office in Velez-Malaga, the official in charge of these matters confirmed us that it has been sent more than a thousand of such requirements during this month and last August, only for some locations in the region of the Axarquia.

Against this background, if you find yourself in this situation—you are a Non Resident in Spain owning a property in Spain, whether you have received this type of notification from the Spanish Tax Authorities or not, you may receive it in the near future. Thus, C&D Solicitors recommend you to normalise your situation as soon as possible by submitting every Income Tax returns for Non Residents for the last 4 years in which you have owned a property in Spain. This may prevent you at lease from paying the financial penalty which accompanies the aforementioned notifications.

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

INHERITANCE TAX IN SPAIN AND NON RESIDENT TAXPAYERS: problems and prospects for the future

Discrimination non-residents inheritance tax

Discrimination non-residents inheritance tax

Currently, non-resident taxpayers face two major problems in respect to the payment of Inheritance Tax in Spain:

1. Discrimination: non-residents pay much more taxes than residents.

2. Double taxation: this tax is payable in two different countries for the same inherited property.

Discrimination

In Spain, taxes are paid for inheritance between non-residents—even though they are immediate family members, spouses, parents, children…, upon application of the government regulations, that is, a progressive scale of taxes based on the transferred property value.

However, regarding inheritance between residents—immediate family members—taxes are much lower or even not paid, as a result of the application of regional government regulations which provide very important tax exemptions.

In respect to inheritance between family members who are not immediate (siblings, uncles, nephews, etc…) and between non-family members, very high taxes shall be paid by both residents and non-residents. In this respect, there is no discrimination.

Upon consideration of this discriminatory unfair condition, it is necessary to inform that the European Commission is putting pressure on Spain to avoid this discrimination, as it is contrary to the free movement of persons and capital, one of the basic principles of the EU single market. This fact may provide a significant reduction of the inheritance tax for non-residents, at least for EU residents, because, otherwise, periodic penalty payments may be imposed to Spain.

There are some examples which can guide you to understand this issue over the figures.

Double taxation

Significant cases of double taxation are also occurring. For example, non-resident heirs are bound to pay a high inheritance tax in Spain for inherited property in Spain (money or real estate) and they shall also pay inheritance tax on the same inherited property in the country where they reside, without deduction of the taxes paid in Spain.

The problem is that Spain only has a convention for the avoidance of double taxation with France, Greece and Sweden for inheritance purposes. Double taxation conventions with United Kingdom, Germany, etc… only refer to income tax and property tax, so that double taxation conditions may occur in relation to inheritance tax.

Accordingly, the UE presented last year a global package regarding inheritance tax system just to avoid these two problems of discrimination and double taxation mentioned above.

 

At this stage and regarding that these serious problems seem to be at least in the process of being resolved in the medium term, C&D Solicitors would like to make the following recommendations:

1. If anybody loses a relative before regulations are modified and is bound to the payment of a high and discriminatory inheritance tax, a procedure could be initiated requesting the refund of the excessive tax which has been paid.

2. It is not appropriate at this moment to hurry and carry out certain actions in order to avoid or reduce inheritance tax in the future—gift inter vivos, contribution to companies, etc. These transactions may involve significant tax consequences to be analysed and as result of them you may pay now higher taxes than taxes to be saved in the future.

C&D Solicitors would rather advise you to make a will for your properties in Spain. This would be an early solution to the above mentioned problems.

“It is an unfortunate fact of life that eventually we all die. It is also unfortunate that no one can predict when that will be. It is because of these two certainties that you are never too young to make a Spanish Will.”

 

 

Author: Francisco Delgado Montilla, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

 

HAVE YOU ALREADY PLANNED YOUR INHERITANCE TAX?

Residency avoids Andalucian inheritance tax

Residency avoids Andalucian inheritance tax

The Inheritance tax imposes taxes on an inheritance received because of death. This tax is paid after a person’s decease and the heir is the taxpayer legally bound to pay it. It shall be paid within the following 6 months since the person deceases. Here below we present an example in order to obtain a better understanding on this tax:

Mr. Smith deceased last January 2012; once he retired and sold his home in England in 2003, he moved together with his wife to Andalusia. Then, they bought a small semi-detached house with very nice views to the sea, which they enjoyed together for all these years.

After Mr. Smith’s decease, his wife initiated the testamentary procedures and she was surprised when she found out that she had to pay 15,490.82€ for the Inheritance tax when inheriting her husband’s estate.

Why did she have to pay such an amount?

Assessed value of the 50% of Mr. Smith’s property__125,000.00 €

Money in Mr. Smith’s current account____________10,000.00 €

Total amount of Mr. Smith’s estate______________135,000.00€

Mrs. Smith’s Inheritance tax payment total account: 135,000.00€ minus 15,956.87 € (reduction allowed because of the beneficiary’s relationship), equals 119,043.13€ (taxable income). According to the current assessment scale, the result is a total tax due of 15,490.82€. That is to say, the widow had to pay 13.01% of the estate total value awarded.

How could this payment have been reduced? First of all, Mr. and Mrs. Smith should have been registered as residents in the municipality of the Town Hall, called in Spain Padrón Municipal, when they bought their home because heirs are allowed to benefit from some tax reductions for Inheritance tax purposes when proving their residence in Andalusia for at least two years and a half during the last five years. A certificate of registration as a resident in the municipality is required to prove this fact.

If Mr. and Mrs. Smith had been registered as residents in the municipality, the widow would not have had to pay any Inheritance tax, because the heirs-residents in Andalusia next of kin of spouse are tax exempt from paying Inheritance tax when the value of the awarded estate does not exceed 175,000.00€, and the heirs pre-existing wealth is less than 402,678.11 €uros.

Apart from this tax exemption, other tax exemptions are applied, as for example, 99.99% reduction when the transferred home has constituted the habitual residence of the deceased. The certificate of registration as a resident in the municipality is required one more time to prove it.

In Spain, Inheritance tax is administrated and collected by regional governments, so that they establish their own regulations to be applied within their own region. In this case, the above mentioned tax exemptions are applicable in Andalusia.

Mr. Smith’s example has been presented above, because many of the foreign citizens who are resident in Spain declare in their Last Will that the survivor spouse inherits the whole of the deceased’s estate. Then, we wanted to provide a simple and practical example related to Inheritance Tax, taking into account that it is essential to make one’s will in Spain only for the estate placed in Spain in order to make the legal procedures easier.

In addition, the Inheritance Tax in Spain is considered a progressive tax; therefore, the higher the value of the inherited estate, the bigger the tax burden for the heir. Furthermore, the heirs’ degree of kinship may be also penalized, so that the deceased’s cousins or friends may pay more than his wife or children for the same awarded estate. For example, if the total value of the inheritance is 400,000.00€, the deceased’s wife or child non resident may pay 27%-28%  approximately of this amount for Inheritance Tax, that is, 112,000.00€; on the other hand, the deceased’s cousin or friend, resident or not resident in Andalusia, may pay the double—about 224,000.00€.

Some financial products, as Life Insurances, are very interesting in order to reduce the tax effect for heirs—pursuant to legal provisions, this type of products are firstly planned to pay the heir’s Inheritance tax and any residuary estate may become part of the heir’s estate.

A good tax planning is important to minimize the fiscal effects of the Inheritance tax. Most of the times, it is a question of looking at the figures and analyzing what is the most interesting decision depending on each particular case.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)
Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

MAKING A WILL IN SPAIN IS ESSENTIAL

Importance Spanish will for heirs of both residents and non-residents

Importance Spanish will for heirs of both residents and non-residents

According to our legal and professional experience, there are many reasons for advising our clients to sign a Will before a Notary Public in Spain with regard to their property in Spain.

You cannot imagine how complex it may be for the heirs of a deceased to formally take the assets situated in Spain (properties, current account deposits, insurances, company shares or stakes … etc). when the only Will available is the one made by the deceased in his/her country of origin, or even worse, when the deceased did not make a Will in his/her country of origin.

In order for the heirs to take the said assets when the Will has been granted in the decesased´s country of origin, the heirs must have a number of documents legalised in the said country. For example, if the decesased is British, documents such as the probate and the grant of probate, among others, are required in order to distribute and formally take the property of the deceased in Spain between the heirs, in accordance with the Will made in the deceased´s country of origin.

However, if the deceased had not even made a Will in his country of origin, the procedure turns out to be more complex, as the rules of intestacy in Spain would be the ones applicable. According to which, only the deceased´s descendants and his/her widow/er would have inheritance rights, and the consent of all the interested parties would be required.

Therefore, the importance of making a Will in Spain is based on:

1)  Economic reasons: if you make a Will in Spain, the inheritance proceedings will be more economic for you heirs, as they will not have to apply for any documents in your country of origin.

2)  Time saving: If you have not made a Will in Spain, it will take longer to obtain all the necessary documents; on the same line, in the absence of a Will on the deceased´s country of origin, the intestacy procedure in Spain will take several months.

3)  Family reasons: Easier legal procedures make everything more agile and less stressing for the heirs.

To finish with, I must remind you that inheritance in Spain is subject to Inheritance Tax. Different regulations apply in each region. In Andalusia, there are a number of benefits and exemptions for a resident who dies in Andalusia, provided certain requirements are met. Therefore, residing in Andalusia (which differs from fiscal residency or from obtaining the residency card) can save a lot of money tax wise. I can assure you that I know of many people who have been living in Andalusia for a long time, and whose heirs will not be able to receive such Inheritance Tax benefits and exemptions for not having seeked professional advice.

In conclusion, if you have any assets in Spain, always make a Will and get professional advice. A professional will study your personal and family circumstances properly in order to draft a Will that suits your interests, minimising at the same time the tax implications for your heirs.

Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, C&D Solicitors (lawyers)

Torrox-Costa (Malaga/Costa del Sol/Andalucia)

 

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