In this reduction, the Regional Government of Andalusia reduced the Transfer Tax a fixed rate of 7% without differentiating thresholds, for all home purchases completed during 2021. This represented a considerable reduction as, until that moment, 8% of the purchase price would be paid up to 400,000 euros, 9% between 400,000 and 700,000 euros and 10% from 700,000 euros.
This reduction mainly benefitted the sales of second-hand real estate luxury home market, which is currently very active in the coastal areas of Costa del Sol, such as Marbella, Málaga, Fuengirola, Nerja or Estepona, among others, or the Costa Tropical, such as Almuñécar (Granada province).
What is the new tax change of the reduction ITP and AJD tax?
On Wednesday 13 October, the Andalusian Parliament adopted a new law, which has reduced the ITP Transfer Tax in Andalusia to 7% PERMANENTLY, which means that buying a home in 2021 or 2022 does not make a difference, as taxation will be the same. In other words, the tax reduction established for 2021 alone will become permanent.
When do you pay the ITP Transfer Tax in Spain?
The IPT Transfers Tax must be paid when buying a secondhand home, within 30 working days following the completion of the Public Deed of the Purchase in the Notary office. The Autonomous Community where the asset is located is the one responsible for collecting that ITP tax in Spain.
When do you pay the AJD Stamp Duty Tax?
The AJD Stamp Duty Tax (Actos Juridicos Documentados) must be paid when purchasing a new or off-plan home, within 30 working days following the completion of the Public Deed of the Purchase in the Notary office. In the case of new building home purchases, the repercussions of this tax reduction are limited, as in these purchases VAT is chargeable at 10% and no Transfers Tax is paid. In new homes, in addition to VAT, buyers need to pay the Stump Duty Tax, which has now permanently become 1.2% of the purchase price of the property, instead of the earlier 1.5%.
When will the permanent reduction ITP Transfer Tax enter into force?
It seems that its entry into force is set for November this year. However, until 31 December, the transitional reduction approved in April continues to apply. In other words, any person in the process of buying a second-hand propertyin Andalusia will pay the ITP Transfer Tax at a rate of 7%, regardless of whether the purchase takes place in 2021 or in 2022.
Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, lawyer at C&D Solicitors (Torrox, Malaga)
We are near the end of the transition period established within the BREXIT for British citizens resident in Spain, which ends on 31 December 2020. There are many tax consequences for British citizens in Spain but for now we are only going to focus on British citizens with assets in Spain. For example pensioners or owners of a second home. From the perspective of trade or the movement of British citizens in Spain for work reasons, the tax and bureaucratic consequences of Brexit are higher, even though we will not cover that in this article. However, we will also briefly address the process to obtain Spanish residency. This because during the past few months we have witnessed many police stations becoming overwhelmed and unable to meet the many requests for appointments for British citizens and their family members to obtain a residence permit in Spain. This procedure was approved as part of the transition period set to end on the 31st of December 2020.
Over the last few weeks of 2020, it has been impossible for many British citizens to make an appointment at the police station in the province where they live and this also applies to the province of Malaga in Andalusia. This has led many British citizens resident in Spain or about to move to Spain starting 2021 without a residence permit.
What will be the situation of British citizens resident in Spain after BREXIT?
Well, these British citizens will have to apply for a residence permit after the final Brexit on the 1st of January 2021, just like any other citizen from a third country outside the European Union. We recommend that first of all these citizens register with their city hall as soon as possible and also request a S1 form from the United Kingdom to prove that their healthcare costs in Spain will be covered by the United Kingdom. After this, the easiest thing to do is to contact a law firm or administration company that can advise you and help you with the process, as it will be complicated to do it on your own. It is very important not to delay and do this as soon as possible, even though it is true that there is currently a lot of uncertainty about the procedure in question, as the negotiations with the European Union remain open.
How will the status of British citizens change after 1 January?
British citizens will be able to travel to Spain and stay for up to 90 days within a 6-month period, consecutive or not, without having to obtain a visa. They could even be required to prove their financial capacity to cover their stay in Spain, as is the case with travellers from countries outside the European Union. If they wish to stay longer, it is very likely that they will have to apply for a visa or work permit, even though this has not been defined yet since the negotiations remain open.
What will happen with the British driving licence?
From 1 January 2021, the general regulations will apply and British driving licence will be valid to drive in Spain for six months counted from the owner’s entry in Spain or from the date that legal residence is obtained. They will need to exchange their British driving licence for a Spanish one to continue driving in Spain after those six months.
How will Inheritance Tax change after Brexit on the 1st of January 2021?
As we explained in detail in an earlier article about inheritance tax, fortunately, from 1 January 2019, citizens not resident in the European Union are able to obtain the same tax benefits and bonuses for Inheritance Tax as European citizens. Therefore, the application of Inheritance Tax and its consequences would not change for British citizens.
Potential future Inheritance Tax when buying a home in Spain
When considering the purchase of a home in Spain, as the regulations applicable to this tax depend on the autonomous community where the property is located, a very important matter is to consider which autonomous communities have a higher and a lower inheritance tax, before making such investment(s). For instance, British nationals are the main buyers of homes in Spain. Alicante (Valencian Community) and Malaga (Andalusia) are the two main locations for foreigners to buy a home in Spain but. However, when it comes to Inheritance Tax, there are big differences between one community and the other. The Valencian Community has the third highest Inheritance Tax in Spain, while Andalusia has the third lowest, according to the General Economists Council of Spain, in their taxation study for 2020. This means that, when thinking about that tax, Malaga has a much cheaper rate of Inheritance Tax than Alicante.
What happens to taxes on profits obtained from renting out my home in Spain?
If you bought a home in Malaga as an investment, for instance, and you use it forholiday rentals as a citizen of the European Union, the profit obtained from such rental would be taxed at 19% through their IRNR income tax for non-fiscal residents with a house in Spain. Many expenses can be deducted: mortgage interest, repair and maintenance costs for the property, electricity, insurance, etc. However, once you are considered a citizen not resident in the European Union, it will be taxed at 24% and no deduction for property expenses may be applied.
Estate Tax or Wealth Tax on my properties located in Spain
Estate Tax or Wealth tax also apply to assets and rights that non-residents have in Spain. As this tax has a minimum personal exemption threshold of 700,000 euros over the minimal fiscal value, all non-residents -in the EU or outside it- with assets of a lower value would pay nothing. The main difference in terms of EU and non-EU citizens lies in the fact that EU citizens can apply the regulations of the autonomous community where most of their assets are located. However, non-EU citizens would have to follow national regulations instead of those of the autonomous community where the assets are located. If we compare the tax rates in Andalusia to the national ones in terms of estate tax, the national rate of estate tax is somewhat lower. Therefore, applying national regulations does not always entail a greater tax liability.
The actual impact of that tax is non-existent for most non-residents due to the minimum fiscal value of 700,000 euros applied per person. This is why it is recommended that, if you are thinking about luxurious purchasing a property in for example Marbella on the Costa del Sol, it might be interesting to put the property in more than one name to profit from this exemption. Still, estate tax could have a high impact for those with high-value assets in Spain or considering the purchase of luxury properties.
How will Brexit affect the sale of my home in Spain?
The tax rate on capital gains obtained from selling the property would go from 19% to 24%. The withholding (down payment) of the Capital Gain Tax that a buyer must apply to a non-resident seller to pay the amount at the Tax Agency in Spain will continue to be 3% of the purchase price. This percentage is the same for EU citizens and non-EU citizens.
Will Brexit affect the ITP transfer tax on the purchase of a home in Spain?
No, it will not. The property ITP transfer tax paid in Spain for the purchaseof second-hand homes do not vary for EU citizens and non-EU citizens, for which reason, from 1 January 2021, it would not lead to greater expenses for British people. The same counts for the 21% VAT tax and documented legal acts (AJD tax) paid for new off-plan properties. The ITP tax depends on the autonomic region. For instance, in Andalucia a house buyer pays 8% ITP transfer tax over the purchase price up to € 400.000, until € 700.000 it´s 9% and after this the ITP will be 10%. To calculate the ITP tax on more expensive houses for a married couple it´s important to take into account if the couple is married in community or separation of goods.
Is the double-taxation agreement in force between Spain and the United Kingdom important?
Yes it is. The main purpose of this double-taxation agreement is for a British national living in Spain or a Spanish national living in the United Kingdom to be able to work and invest in those countries without having to pay twice for the same thing. This agreement will remain in force and is unaffected by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. This agreement, which came into force on 12 June 2014, contains special clauses that exempt certain public pensions paid by the British government from taxation in Spain, as they can only be taxed in the United Kingdom. Likewise, this agreement protects residents national of either country from being taxed twice on income from capital gains and dividends. Income tax for non-residents, company tax, personal income tax and estate tax are covered by this agreement, for which reason these aspects should not be taxed twice in both countries.
Potential changes in the future for British house owners
Over the next few weeks, there will surely be changes affecting British nationals as it is very likely for the negotiations to change certain important aspects. However, on the date this article is posted (22 December 2020), little is known. We advise that, if you have any doubts, you contact and obtain legal or tax advice from a lawyeror company specialising in non-resident house owners.
Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, lawyer at C&D Solicitors, Málaga
Buying a home in Spainentails a great financial investment and, therefore, you’ll want to do it with the lowest possible risk. This is why it’s very important to obtain legal advice and hire a specialised lawyer to help you throughout the purchase process, so that you can enjoy legal certainty and be aware of all the relevant information about the property.
However, there is another important thing to do before signing the Purchase Deed for the property. It is advisable to have home insurance ready to prevent any risk of financial loss due to potential damages, such as theft, water damage or fire. The importance of home insurance for the owner’s peace of mind and the investment made is self-evident.
This is why we’re posting this article, to clarify some concepts for foreign homeowners in Spain, so that they can understand this very important product well. In the event that you are buying with a mortgage, the bank will advise you and recommend that you obtain home insurance as, in the event of serious damage to the mortgaged property, the bank will want to secure repayment of the money borrowed.
At the end of the article, we cover home insurance for rural homes built in Andalusia, with or without DAFO/SAFO.
What are the building and the contents in home insurance?
A home insurance policy for an existing or new build property is based on two main concepts: the building and the contents.
1) The building (continente) is made up of the construction and structural elements of a home or building, whether these are walls, ceilings, floors or installations such as heating, water or electricity, among others.
2) The contents (contenido) are made up of the belongings of the people living in the home, such as furniture, electronic devices, personal effects, clothing, jewellery, art, etc.
What would be an appropriate value for the contents?
To properly assess the contents, we recommend that you think about how much it would cost you to buy the items you have in your home, going room by room until you cover everything in it. Jewellery or cash money have specific valuation in home insurance and may be insured up to a certain limit or under certain conditions. In other words, in this case, this information must be provided to the company so that it takes it into account in the policy.
And what is the right value for the building?
If the building becomes damaged, e.g. a fire, the company will provide compensation according to the cost of rebuilding the home, i.e. the potential cost of rebuilding the home must be calculated. The resulting value of this calculation is the one that should be included in home insurance as the value of the building.
A very common way to calculate said value is the use of average estimated building values published by the Colleges of Architects. For instance:
Mr Olle Johansson, a Swedish national, purchased a new home in the city of Malaga in 2020. It’s a flat measuring 120 sq. m.Well, taking into account the average estimated building values from the College of Architects of Malaga for 2020, the value per square metre built would be 809 euros. In other words, the value of the building for 120 square metres would be 97,080 euros. If there is an underground carpark and a store, these should also be appraised separately from the home, so that the policy covers them. Another example: Mr Jan Van Poppel, a Dutch national, will purchase a home in the countryside, in the Mijas area (rural land), which has: 200 built square metres plus 30 square metres for a pool. The value per square metre for an isolated home in the countryside is 984 euros and the value of the pool would be 445 euros per square metre. Therefore, the value of the building would be about 210,150 euros.
Valuing the building at the purchase price
When we buy a home and obtain home insurance, we often think about setting a value for home insurance as close as possible to the purchase price paid for the property. However, this reasoning is misleading as it should be taken into account that the land where the home is located is not covered by home insurance, as the land always remains intact. In the event of serious damage, if you already own the land, you only need to insure the cost of rebuilding the home. However, the value of this land is what makes up most of the purchase price of a home in most urban sales. For instance, buying a home in the golden mile in Marbella, in central Malaga or on the beachfront in Nerja entails a high cost due to the location (land) of the property, rather than for the value of the building itself.
Rebuilding is much cheaper than buying when you already own the land. Therefore, the most important thing is to insure the real reconstruction value in the event of serious damage. This is about assigning the actual value to the building of your property. You also need to take into account that, when you own a home in a block of flats, if there is serious damage affecting the building, the community insurance will cover part of the damages affecting only the common elements of the building. The façade, roof, terraces, etc., are elements that would be covered by the insurance of the Homeowner’s Association in the event of a fire. In other words, if you are buying a flat or apartment, you’ll need to insure the building. This is why, in these cases, you should calculate the reconstruction value of your building for insurance purposes. If you provide a value above the reconstruction value, this would lead to so-called over-insurance in your home insurance and, if you provide a lower value, it would lead to under-insurance.
What would happen in the case of over-insurance in the policy?
Imagine a home in a building measuring 100 square meters, with a building value of 300,000 euros because this was the price paid when it was bought. If there is a serious accident requiring the reconstruction of the home, the company will never pay more than the reconstruction value, which would in general be around 80,000 – 90,000 euros. In this case, the owner would be paying a very high premium every year for the insurance policy needlessly, as the company will only honour claims up to the reconstruction cost of the home. In extreme cases, the company could even interpret that there has been bad faith when obtaining the insurance policy and this could be a major issue, as it could declare the policy void and refuse to pay the amounts that should be paid in the event of damages.
What happens in case of under-insurance?
In the event that the building or content is valued below the actual value of the building or furniture, the company will not cover 100% of the damages, even if the amount of the claim is lower than the value of the insurance policy. For instance, if the actual value of reconstruction of the building is 100,000 euros and the policy contains a building value of 60,000 euros, the home would only be insured at 60%. Someone might think in this case that any damages equal to or lower than 60,000 euros would be covered by the policy but in reality that’s not the case. For instance, in the event of a small fire with damages valued at 10,000 euros, the company would interpret that 40% of the claim is not covered by the policy as only 60% of the building value of the home is insured. Therefore, it will only pay 6,000 euros as compensation, always applying the rule of proportionality to every claim.
Special insurance: luxury homes
If you own a luxury home or you are thinking about buying a luxury home, the estimated cost of reconstruction or replacement based on the coefficients of the colleges of architects would surely not be a valid calculation method for homes of this type. The key to insure the building in homes of this type is to calculate the reconstruction value of the property with objective parameters. I.e. if the home has very high quality finishes in terms of automation, insulation, aluminium or timber structures, flooring, taps, toilets, air conditioning, etc., this must be taken into account and, in this case, these values should be added to the building insurance. As mentioned, the value of the building must be as accurate an estimate as possible of what it would cost to rebuild the home to the same standards. In this case, it’s very important to inform the company of the “peculiarities” of this home so that it has as much information as possible and to accredit the reason behind the value of building insurance being above the average reconstruction values in the area. Keeping all purchase invoices and proof of purchase for high-value furniture is very important to prove the estimated cost.
What is the insurance compensation consortium?
All persons who have an insurance policy in Spain, whatever the type, pay a small part of the price to the consortium. The consortium is a public business entity that covers accidents such as flooding, terrorism, atypical cyclones, large fires or other risks set down in the “extraordinary risk insurance regulations”, which are not covered by insurance policies, with damages of this type being expressly excluded from insurance covers. When damages of this type occur, as the insurance company does not cover them, the consortium acts as guarantor to compensate policyholders and keep them protected in these situations.
Rural homes and the building value in home insurance
First of all, we should remember the legal premise that most existing rural homes (rustic / countryside)in Andalusia, which are used for residential purposes, are illegal and, therefore, in the event of the destruction and total loss of the home, such as due to fire, earthquakes, serious flooding,etc., they cannot be rebuilt. This is because the Urban Planning Law of Andalusia (LOUA) does not allow for issuing a building permit on rural land for a residential home. The existence and continuity of those thousands of illegal homes on rural land are based on their age. Therefore, in the case of destruction or total loss, there would no longer be an old home and it would not be possible to obtain a permit to build a new house or rebuild the one that was there.
The above explanation means that the value of the building in home insurance for these homes can be estimated, as mentioned above, at around 984 euros per square metre built in Malaga. As the value is based on what it would cost to rebuild the home and the rural home cannot be legally rebuilt in the event of total loss, what situation would we be in? In the event of total loss, if we have a country home with a surface area of 150 square metres and the building is valued at 150,000 euros, the company would pay that amount as compensation for the building, along with the amount corresponding to its contents. In this case, the owner would receive compensation for the home in addition to the value of land where nothing can be built. This is why the value of the land in a rural home is very low compared to the construction value, especially when compared to an urban home on land where it is legal to rebuild it.
Tips for a safe and well insured home
When obtaining home insurance and purchasing your property, think carefully about the value of the building and contents and don’t forget to include stores, parking spaces, pools, etc. If you have any doubts about the insurance value, talk to the insurance company itself. It’s important for the company to help you clear up any doubts when assessing your insurance value.
It is clear that the healthcare crisis caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a huge impact on all areas of our daily lives. The state of alarm decreed by the Spanish government, as well as many other governments in foreign countries, has caused movement restrictions and limitations, the closure of the airspace, the paralysis of the business fabric and government agencies, etc. People’s everyday lives have been severely affected from a social and economic standpoint.
With this article, we would like to respond, as much as possible, to the doubts and uncertainties of foreign clients buying homes in Spain, as well as their sellers. We are referring to sales between individuals that were already underway with signed contracts but which were ‘surprised’ by the COVID-19 crisis and the measures adopted by the Spanish government decreeing the state of alarm.
At the end of the article, we will comment briefly on the legal situation of sales of new homes or off-plan sales from developers.
What does Spanish law say on the fulfilment of purchase contracts?
The first thing that must be said emphatically is that, under Spanish law, the clauses agreed in a contract have the force of law and, therefore, the parties are required to fulfil them. In other words, the impossibility of fulfilling what has been agreed in a contract is an exception and is interpreted very restrictively.
The Spanish Supreme Court, when dealing with potential breaches of contract and to avoid the loss of the money paid, has established that the party in breach has to evidence and argue the reasons behind said breach, as well as prove that it did everything possible to perform the contract.
However, even after establishing the impossibility of complying with the contract, if it is possible to amend or adapt it so it can be fulfilled, the parties must seek to modify the contract in that way, to solve the problem arising from the situation caused by the state of alarm and the COVID-19 Corona crisis. In other words, when faced with the potential avoidance of the contract by one of the parties, they must always attempt to reach an agreement to fulfil it.
Which property sales could be affected by the state of alarm?
In my opinion, the conveyance contracts that may be affected are those that required either of the parties to fulfil a requirement or condition agreed in the contract before the execution of the public deed of sale and that condition is affected by these months of paralysis.
Due to the paralysation of activities and movement limitations, it is very possible that some of the requirements established in a conveyance contract cannot be fulfilled, as the estimated time to process or manage these were calculated based on a normal situation, which has not existed since 13 March. As an example, we can mention the following:
Purchase contracts in the state of alarm:
For the conveyance contract to establish the condition of being granted a building permit or the record for legalisation of a home, such as DAFO in rural homes in Andalusia. As city halls are paralysed or working at minimum levels, it is very possible for these applications not to be processed until the state of alarm is brought to an end.
For the condition to be obtaining a Spanish mortgage. If the appraiser cannot travel to visit the property or the bank’s risk department is not operating, this process will be paralysed, making the average resolution time much longer than initially expected.
For the date of signing the conveyance contract and recording it as a public deed to coincide with the period of the state of alarm and/or the restrictions on commercial flights, making it impossible for either of the parties to attend the notary office.
The impossibility to obtain an NIE (foreigner’s identification number.), which is necessary to sign a conveyance contract before a notary and pay the corresponding taxes. The processing of these documents is currently suspended. The national police stations in Malaga that we asked don’t know when they’ll be able to open to accept new NIE applications.
Either of the parties being admitted into hospital or in quarantine.
What should the seller and buyer do in this situation?
Well, the first thing is to see if the private contract contains any clause that governs these situations since, as I’ve mentioned, the sales or purchase contract has the force of law and binds the parties. However, in conveyance processes where the deed cannot be signed for reasons arising from the coronavirus crisis, what both parties should do would be to amend the contract and extend it, to give time to the party that needs it in order to complete the sale. In most situations, it is only a matter of time for that circumstance or condition that is currently impossible to fulfil to be fulfilled later on.
Likewise, in the event of inflexibility and the refusal of either of the parties to grant such an extension to the conveyance contract, in most cases there would be no legal grounds to terminate the contract and/or claim damages. As mentioned above, the parties must always attempt to reach an agreement to comply with the contract.
Is it possible for the buyer to terminate the contract due to the COVID-19 crisis?
Withdrawing from a conveyance contract due to a sudden drop in house prices and in the face of an economic crisis is a complex issue. In this case, we are referring to the buyer having to accredit meeting one of the requirements established in case law for terminating purchase contracts, this being that there has been an extraordinary change in the circumstances leading to the execution of said contract.
In other words, the buyer would have to evidence that the current economic crisis, resulting in a deep and prolonged economic recession, could be openly considered an economic phenomenon able to generate a severe disruption or change in the circumstances leading to the execution of said contract.
In Spain, the courts have been rejecting the possibility to terminate a sales or purchase contract based on this circumstance. However, this possibility should not be ruled out and individual factors should be analysed, such as whether the home will be a primary home or a holiday home, if the buyer was in need of mortgage financing, if the financial situation of the buyer has changed significantly, etc.
What is the buyer’s situation in the sales process?
With this question, what we want to address is the situation of a buyer who made a decision to purchase a home at a specific price a few months ago, based on an economic situation that is in no way similar to the current one.
Let’s imagine Dutch, Belgian, English, Swedish or other foreign people who wanted to invest in property in Malaga or the Costa del Sol, either to obtain a profit or to let it. Clearly, the sales price they agreed was based on the value of that property under the earlier economic situation. For instance, let’s imagine a home in the historic centre of Málaga or Nerja, highly sought-after areas with tourist attractions before COVID-19, with great possibilities for letting in the tourist market, which is currently suspended.
Well, as a buyer, in the event that continuing with the purchase of the property would lead to incurring significant levels of debt, the first thing to do would be to analyse two things:
The amount of money paid to the seller (usually 10% of the purchase price). Whether the buyer is willing to lose that money, essentially due to thinking that it is better to lose the money and not buy the property.
The content of the purchase contract clauses agreed in terms of what happens when the buyer breaches the purchase contract. This is an important issue because a breach of contract could lead to different legal situations. The usual process is to execute an earnest money contract, which entails losing the money paid to the seller, leading to the termination of the contract, this being the clause that our firm usually agrees in conveyance contracts. However, if this is not properly drafted in the contract, it is possible for the seller to be entitled to require the buyer to complywith the purchase contract and sign the public deed, even if the buyer agreed to lose the earlier money paid. Obviously, this claim from the buyer would have to be addressed in judicial proceedings, which would take years before the parties get a resolution and usually sellers settle for keeping the money paid as a deposit.
What is the seller’s situation in the selling process?
For sellers, they are most likely the most interested in completing the sale of the home as, certainly, the price set in the sales / purchase contract signed before COVID-19 will be higher than what they can obtain in the short or medium term. Without a doubt, the current situation will lead to a general drop in house prices, even though no one knows how long this will last.
That said, it is possible for sellers who already have a signed contract and who see that buyers are hesitating to complete the conveyance to be interested in making it easier for buyers to complete the purchase. In other words, in this context, negotiating a lower price so that the seller can sell doesn’t seem far-fetched. In the end, the price drop would depend on whether it is very important for the seller to sell right now or they can wait, or whether the money already paid by the buyer is enough compensation for the seller to agree to keep that amount as a penalty instead of negotiating.
What is the situation when purchasing new builds or off-plan homes?
In sales of this type, in terms of the performance of the contract by the buyer, the situation is the same as explained above, in terms of both compliance with the contract and its termination clauses. In my opinion, the buyer’s potential doubts would be determined by the progress of the works and the expected completion date of the development, also thinking about the financial solvency of the developer.
If the buyer signed the sales contract over one year ago, when the market was experiencing a good time and prices were rising, it is very likely for the price agreed at that time to be lower than what they could find at the beginning of this year, for instance. On the other hand, if the works are close to completion, there would be little doubt as to whether the developer will complete them, as they would be almost completely sold and few buyers would be thinking about terminating the purchase contract, since they would have already made significant payments on account for their homes. In this case, the scenario for the buyer is safe.
In the case of developments where construction has not yet started but which were already being marketed, with expected completion likely coming in a year or two, the scenario is different. In this case, buyers who are in doubt and recently signed the private contract must assess the price of the property and its completion date, as well as find out the number of homes with signed contracts sold by the developer, in order to make a decision. However, if the private contract has not yet been signed and only a reservation had been agreed with the developer, they can withdraw from it and recover the amount paid. They can also wait longer, as developers are likely to lower prices, depending on how long the crisis lasts.
In terms of the solvency of developers, due to the obligation to guarantee all the amounts paid during construction once the private contract has been signed, the buyer would have complete legal certainty in the event that the developer is unable to complete construction. This situation is in no way similar to the 2008 crisis, where many buyers lost their payments on account.
Individual review situation purchase contracts
However, these sales processes starting prior to the COVID-19 crisis can lead to complex situations that should be analysed individually and always with the advice of a lawyer. This is not the time to make decisions without the appropriate legal knowledge, taking into account that a private conveyance contract has already been singed. Rushing is never a good idea.
Author: Gustavo Calero Monereo, lawyer at C&D Solicitors, (Málaga, Andalusia)
Due to the actual crisis that has been declared in the whole world by the World Health Organization because of the Coronavirus (also known as Covid-19), almost every country has put into force different measures.
*This document has been written according to the law and Decrees in force until 4th April 2020.
In Spain, the 14th March 2020, the government declared the “state of alarm”(regulated in Art. 116.1 of the Spanish constitution and the organic law 4/1981), for 15 days, (until the 29th March), through the Real Decree 463/2020, closing museums, monuments, restaurants and almost every business open to the public. Nevertheless, concerning the increase of the infections, the state of alarm has been extended for another 15 days until the 12th April 2020, after the approval of the Parliament ( Congreso de los Diputados, Decree 11/2020), and pending for another extension until the 26th April.
The main goal of these decrees is to prohibit free movement of people in order to prevent further increase of infection among the Spanish population. Nevertheless, all these measures have economical, fiscal and, of course, social consequences.
Extension of the payment dates for self-employed and small entrepreneurs (PYME) (Deferral and split payments).
Self-employed and small entrepreneurs with a turnover of less than € 6.010.121,04, are allowed to defer payment of the tax debt (less than 30,000 euros) without the need to provide a guarantee for a 6-month term. The first three of these months will not accrue default interest, with the consequent. Said deferral only refers to settlements or self-assessments that had to be presented or entered from March 13th to May 20th of 2020 (article 14 Decree 7/2020).
A postponement of tax debts that previously could not be postponed is now allowed (article 65 LGT):
Those that the person is required to make payments on account for (art. 65.2 b), such as the quarterly model 111 or the 3% model Modell 211.
Those derived from taxes that must be passed on by law having been collected (art. 65.2 f), such as model 303 of VAT
Fractional payments of Corporation Tax. (art. 65.2 g), such as IS model 202
Suspension of legal terms not concluded before March 14 (Decree 8/2020 and 11/2020)
Article 33 of Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 and its clarification with Decree 11/2020 applies to all taxpayers, extending the deadlines not concluded before March 14, 2020, until April 30 2020 for:
The payments of tax debt for liquidations in the voluntary period and those that, in the executive period, have been notified of the enforcement order. For example: if you have been notified of a settlement for the payment of a tax debt on March 12 you would have to pay it no later than April 20 (according to the General Tax Law in its article 65.2), however, with this decree the payment can be postponed until April 30.
Deadlines and fractions of deferrals already granted (prior to March 14, 2020 without prejudice to the deadlines reflected in art. 14 of the previous Decree 7/2020), as well as the deadlines on auctions and adjudication of goods made by the Treasury state.
Deadline to meet the state agency requirements, embargo proceedings, requests for information or to make allegations in tax procedures (regarding nullity, rectification of errors, requesting returns).
If there was doubt as to whether or not these tax procedures initiated by the corresponding autonomous and local Administration, the new Decree 11/2020, in its article 53, establishes that the suspension of the aforementioned period also applies to local and autonomous administration (in the art.33 of decree 8/2020).
Deadlines to meet requirements and requests of the cadastre.
No proceedings to execute the guarantees already seized which fall on real estate in the administrative procedures of constraint
What happens with the procedures communicated as of March 14?
For all the aforementioned procedures communicated as of that date, they are extended until May 20 of 2020 (unless the one granted by another tax rule is higher).
For example: if a settlement for the payment of a tax debt was notified on March 19, in normal cases you would have to pay it no later than May 5, however, with this decree, payment can be deferred until May 20.
However, in any of the above assumptions, if the taxpayer complied with the requirement, paid the tax debt or presented allegations despite the deferment granted, they will be understood to have been carried out for all purposes, procedure completed.
What happens with self-assessments such as the payment of Property Transfer Tax in the sale of a home?
When a person buys a home in Andalusia, they have 30 days to pay the Property Transfer Tax, which is currently 8% of the purchase price. The payment of the same is done through a self-assessment. In other words, the buyer or his/her representative prepares this tax model and presents it voluntarily for payment within that period.
The decree regarding the state of Alarm does not include self-assessments as deferrable, according to Royal Decree 465/2020, of 17 March, amending Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March, declaring a state of alarm, so for example, neither the quarterly settlements of VAT nor personal income tax (models 130 and 303) are postponed and maintains their deadline for April 20 for the third quarter.
What happens during the state of alarm with the legal term of actions that tax authorities can exercise against someone and the deadlines for filing appeals?
Royal Decree 11/2020 establishes that the period from March 14 to April 30, will not count for the purposes of prescription in the actions that the tax administration may exercise against the administered.
Let’s take an example, if the administration had a maximum period until March 19 to demand payment of a tax, and it has not been demanded by March 13 the administration automatically has until April 30 to request payment.
There would neither be a deadline for the expiration of the procedures initiated by the administration.
On the other hand, the deadlines for the filing of administrative economic appeals against tax acts or in the economic-administrative procedures not notified before March 14, 2020, do not start until after April 30, 2020.
What happens with the income declaration from rentals or the annual IRNR declaration for non-residents?
These deadlines do not vary, meaning that all non-residents in Spain receiving an income from rentals of a property here in Spain must declare said profit quarterly within the corresponding period.
On 9 April, the Andalusia Council approved, through a Decree Law, an amendment of the tax on inheritance and gifts, which, in particular, entails great tax savings in terms of the tax on gifts. This legislative amendment introduced a bonus of 99% of the tax liability due in inheritance and gift tax, that is to say only 1% of what was previously paid would be due.
Needless to say, the Tax on inheritance and gifts is devolved to the different Autonomous Communities that make up Spain so this bonus is the one in force in Andalusia. But, depending on the location of the property or residence of the recipient (for movable assets) –the person receiving the asset–, legislation will be different on the matter of inheritance and gifts.
Example: A father gifts his son 200,000 euros
With the previous legislation, the tax liability on this gift would have been 31,621.21 euros, which meant that the son would have had to pay 31,621.21 euros in taxes after receiving this money from this father. With the new regulation, this tax liability of 31,621.21 euros can benefit from a bonus of 99%, which means that, now, the son would pay a tax of 316.21 euros. Without a doubt, it represents huge tax savings. When money or other moveable property is donated, the applicable regulation for this purpose will be that of the residence of the recipient.
Who can benefit from this bonus on the gift tax?
Those people included in groups I and II established in the regulation governing this tax can benefit. This means that the recipient must be the spouse, child, grandchild or parent of the grantor; the person who gives away the asset.
What other requirements need to be met for gifts in Andalusia?
Besides being included in groups I and II mentioned above, it will be necessary for the donation to be made effective in a Public Deed before a Notary and, if money is gifted, its source must be justified. In case of donating a property, this Deed will be used to inscribe the property in the new name of the new owner in the Land Registry.
What happens with the Capital Gain Tax and Plusvalia?
From the perspective of the tax on gifts, there is no problem with a parent donating a property in Andalusia for the child to apply the 99% bonus and pay a very small amount for the tax on gifts. The problem in the case of properties affects the grantor because, even if the property is gifted, the Tax Agency equates that transfer to the sale of the property –for the Treasury, there is no difference between donating and selling–. For this reason, the grantor must pay Capital Gains Tax calculated on the difference between the original value paid in the purchase of the property and the value of the property when gifted.
It is important to note that if the grantor is a tax resident in Spain, over the age of 65 and gifting their habitual residence, no capital gains tax would be paid for gifting or selling the property.
Lastly, as the city where the property is located also interprets a gift as a sale, it will ask for its piece of the pie in the form of capital gains tax – Plusvalia in Spanish-. This local tax is calculated according to the number of years that the grantor has owned the property, with a maximum of 20 years, and is paid on the increase in value experienced by the plot/land of the property.
What if I value the property at a low price to pay less tax?
You may be tempted to set a very low value for the property gifted and thus pay less Capital Gains tax when it is gifted. This is perfectly understandable but it is very important for this value not to be below the minimum taxable value, which is the taxable value that the Treasury deems properties in Spain to have. That is to say, the value of the property being gifted should not fall below the minimum taxable value to prevent an inspection by the Tax Agency. The minimum tax value in urban properties is based on the cadastre value of the property multiplied by a factor that varies from town to town.
Does this bonus apply to everyone, regardless of whether they are resident in Spain?
As explained in several previous articles, the most recent from March, different judgments have ruled that both residents of the European Union and residents of third countries must be treated the same as residents in Spain for the purposes of the Tax on Inheritance and Gifts. Based on this, anyone who meets the requirements explained in this article can benefit from the 99% bonus in Inheritance and Gift Tax introduced in Andalusia or any other regulation of the relevant Autonomous Community.
Example of a property being gifted
Let’s imagine a Swedish homeowner who bought a property in Almuñécar (Granada) for 200,000 euros and decides to gift it to his son who lives in China, with the current minimum taxable value being 300,000 euros. Since the home is in Andalusia, the son-recipient can benefit from the 99% bonus in the tax due and would only have to pay 554.68 euros for the tax on gifts, of the total tax amount of 55,466.81 euros.
Since the father-grantor obtained capital gains of 100,000 euros from the gift, he will have to pay capital gains tax on this 100,000-euro “profit”, which currently stands at 19% of net profit (after certain possible deductions). However, as the owner is 64 years old, resident in Spain and is gifting his habitual residence, we recommend that he waits until he turns 65 to avoid paying capital gains tax. The son will surely understand the reasons.
What happens to taxes where the recipient resides?
Before accepting a gift, it is important for the recipient to get information, from his or her country of residence, regarding which tax will have to be paid on this, if any. Lastly, it should be said that this amendment of the Tax on Gifts in Andalusia means that the construct of gifts may be attractive in situations where a couple wants one of the spouses to own 100% of the property –only for married couples under separation of assets– or if they want to leave the property to their children or grandchildren during their lifetimes. Previously, from the standpoint of tax savings in Andalusia, the only options were to terminate co-ownership or sell the property but now, with this new amendment, in many cases it will be better to gift it as more taxes will be saved on the transfer of the property.
Read more about the subject of selling your house in Andalusia in the video below:
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.
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 for non-married longest living?
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.
NON-MARRIED LONGEST LIVING 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.
A few weeks ago, a seller was bitterly complaining to me about what they had paid for capital gains tax on the sale of their home in Capistrano, Nerja to a Swedish couple, even though no profit had actually been made.
I then remembered an article we published in June 2014 on this matter, where we spread the news about new case law defending the position of taxpayers who had sold a property at a loss and, furthermore, were forced by the city council to pay capital gains tax, even though no profit had been made from the sale of that property.
Many sales take place at a loss and there are many more to come as, in general, current prices are still below those in effect a few years ago.
In the two and a half years since the publication of that article, the position of taxpayers to be able to claim back what they had paid in municipal capital gains tax for the sale of their homes without having made any profit has improved and the government will probably be forced to amend the Law in order to prevent councils from continuing to demand payment in these situations.
First of all, if they want to cancel the capital gains tax bill received from the council, they must know that they need to pay it first and then file a claim, and they will then have no option but to resort to the courts to claim a refund.
However, according to a judgment of the Higher Court of Justice of the Community of Valencia in late 2016, it is not necessary to obtain an expert appraisal to prove the value of the property, as it is understood that the amounts shown in the purchase and sale deeds clearly determine the actual value of the property and, therefore, show whether a profit was made.
So far, taxpayers wishing to file a claim through the courts needed an appraisal to prove that the actual value of the property transfer was lower than the purchase price. However, through this judgment, the amount shown in the purchase and sale deeds can be enough to accredit the values of the property when, through examining the deeds, one can easily see that there has been no increase in the value of the land.
The strongest argument in favour of taxpayers is that the Constitutional Court, in its recent judgment of 16th February, established that making citizens pay taxes for non-existing enrichment in the sale of their homes contradicts the principle of financial capacity set down in art. 31.1 of the Spanish Constitution. The Constitutional Court clarified that capital gains taxes are legal but it is unconstitutional to pay this tax when no actual gains have been made in the sale of the property.
The Constitutional Court also clarified that legislators will be the ones who will have to amend the legal framework of this tax in order to prevent taxation in these situations where no capital gains are made from the sale of a property.
Until the Law is amended, we assume that councils will continue to demand payment of capital gains taxes even when properties are sold at a loss but, after the pronouncement of the Constitutional Court and with the arguments set down in the other judgments mentioned, taxpayers will be able to claim back what they have unduly paid to the council in these circumstances. However, it is true that, for smaller amounts of capital gains tax, it may not be interesting to file a claim, taking into account the costs involved in hiring a solicitor and a barrister.
Many cities in this area: Nerja, Frigiliana, Torrox, Vélez Málaga, etc., issue bills for capital gains tax once the sale is recorded in a Public Deed, for which reason, in order to obtain a cancellation of this bill from the council, it would be necessary to challenge it before the deadline established by law.
If the claim is not filed before the deadline and, therefore, the administrative action becomes unappealable, it will become more difficult to file a successful claim.
CLOSER TO A DEFINITIVE SOLUTION FOR THOSE AFFECTED
The first thing I would like to do is inform you that C&D Solicitors has signed a collaboration agreement with the Sevillian law firm Gallego & Rivas, which specialises in financial and banking law.
On the basis of this agreement, Gallego & Rivas have offered to study the documentation of homeowners who may be affected by a “floor clause” (cláusula suelo) in their mortgages, free of charge. At the end of this article, we will explain how those affected can get access to this service.
First of all: What is a “floor clause”? A mortgage is said to have a “floor clause” when, in a variable-interest mortgages, there is a clause in the Deed of the Mortgage Loan establishing that the interest for this mortgage cannot be lower than a certain threshold.
In other words, in this case, the mortgage cannot benefit from a low interest rate and from the successive drops that may occur, as the minimum interest rate is “shielded” and any interest rate set below the one established in the “floor clause” cannot be applied. For several years, the Euribor rate has been very low and these clauses have represented considerable losses for many customers.
For the last few years, there have been many legal proceedings in Spain brought by people affected by “floor clauses” in their mortgages. In fact, almost five years ago, we published our first article about this matter, echoing the first judgments. We should keep in mind that mortgages with “floor clauses” were common until 2009 or 2010.
Most judgments have sided with the complainants. Likewise, the Supreme Court pronounced itself in May 2010, declaring these clauses null.
So far, the legal arguments are clear so people with a “floor clause” in their mortgages have a very good chance of obtaining a favourable ruling. Such ruling would order the bank to eliminate the “floor clause” of the mortgage, as well as to return the money that customers have overpaid in their mortgages, in addition to the legal costs of the proceedings.
In its judgment of May 2013, the Supreme Court, in its legal reasoning, only ordered the banks to return the money unduly charged to customers from 9 May 2013 and not since the clause started to be applied to the customer. I.e. what was unduly charged before that date was not eligible for a refund.
The Supreme Court appealed to the economic turmoil that it could represent for banks to return the total amounts unduly charged to customers before 9 May 2013 as, considering that there are thousands of mortgages affected by a “floor clause”, banks would be forced to refund billions of euros to their customers.
Due to the controversial nature of this legal reasoning, a Commercial Court in Granada raised a prejudicial question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) so that it would pronounce itself on whether banks should refund the amounts overcharged to their customers from moment that the “floor clause” in their mortgages was applied instead of from 9 May 2013.
On 26 April, the CJEU held the public hearing on these proceedings and, on 12 July, the advocate general of the CJEU will present his findings. At the end of the year, we will know whether Spanish banks will have to return everything unduly charged or just the amount overcharged after 9 May 2013.
It seems that there are good chances that the CJEU considers that everything unduly charged to every customer with a “floor clause” must be refunded. The decision is transcendental since –according to some sources– we are talking about 7 thousands millions of euros.
These 7 thousands millions of euros would be added, to the 5 billion euros that banks are estimated to be required to refund to customers, for everything unduly charged from 2013 to the present day.
Regardless of the date set by the CJEU, “floor clauses” are abusive and those affected have the right to file a complaint to get their money back. This is why we have signed an agreement with the law firm Gallego & Rivas, which has offered to study the documentation of homeowners who may be affected by a “floor clause” (cláusula suelo) in their mortgages and provide them with a short report on their situation.
The study of this documentation would be free of charge and legal advice would also be provided to recover the money lost and the cost of the proceedings. Customers can then decide whether they want to initiate legal proceedings.
Later, according to the number of persons interested in taking legal action against their banking institution, we could set up a day at our office in Torrox-Costa (Malaga) so that those affected by a floor clause in their Mortgage Deeds can get first-hand contact with Gallego & Rivas.
Ultimately, the affected person will get a specialist lawyer to study his case at no cost and advise him of the potential actions he may take to recover the money, as well as the cost of the proceedings.
If you are interested in getting this consultation free of charge, the way to proceed is to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, giving us your contact details and sending us a copy of your Mortgage Deed as well as the latest invoice for your mortgage loans. We will be happy to help you and clarify your legal status.