Changes in tax for International people living in Spain
If the UK sails into the sunset and leaves the European Union, the so called Brexit, what impact does this have on taxation for international people living in Spain? The framework for taxation in all countries is based upon the following:
Are you tax resident according to the laws of that country?
Which tax authority is the controlling tax authority for your Worldwide income and gains?
If you have income or gains outside of the country where you are tax resident, is there a double taxation agreement between the country where you are resident and the country where the income or gain is made?
For those of us living in Spain, the simple test is are we in the country for more than 183 days in any calendar year? If yes, then we will be Spanish Tax resident. For more detail see Spanish Tax Residency. If we meet the residency requirement Spain is our controlling tax authority. This means we have to report our Worldwide income and gains to Spain and our main payment of tax is in Spain.
Double Tax Treaties
The OECD, UN and USA have set up model frameworks for Double Taxation Treaties. Most countries use these frameworks. However, the Treaties are between individual countries. Even if the country is in the EU there is NO EU wide double taxation agreements. Therefore, if the UK leaves the EU it will not affect the double taxation agreement between the UK and Spain. As an example, Spain has 88 tax treaties, 66 of them with countries outside the EU and even if the UK leaves the double tax treaty should stay. The tax treaty between Spain and the UK covers both income and gains.
It is not expected that there will be any changes to the Beckham rule (Impatriate Tax Regime). It is available to people from around the World. Therefore people moving from the UK to Spain should still be able to benefit from the lower rate of taxation for five full tax years.
Where we do expect changes
There is a potential economic impact in both Inheritance Tax and Exit Taxes if the UK leaves the EU.
In September 2014, the European Court of Justice instructed Spain to change its rules regarding Inheritance Tax where the deceased person or the person receiving the inheritance was in another country in the European Economic Area (EEA). The effect was to allow these people to claim the allowances that are available to inhabitants of Spain, rather than them being taxed on a special “National” rate. This was because the National Rate resulted in higher taxes.
If Britain is no longer a member of the EEA, it is quite possible that we will have to return to paying the national rate of inheritance tax. Please note, it is possible for the UK to leave the EU but not the EEA and therefore will still qualify for local allowances. Whilst the loss of the local allowances will only put us back to the situation two years ago it will still be a backwards step.
There are several pieces of Inheritance Tax planning that you can do to reduce the burden of Inheritance Tax. HOWEVER, we have not left the EU, there is some debate about whether we will ever leave the EU and we may yet become part of the EEA. We strongly recommend, therefore, that you discuss the possible planning methods now but do NOT implement any planning on the basis of the UK leaving the EU. This is because once taken, many of the planning steps cannot be undone.