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Death and Taxes

By Mr Grumpy - Thu 16th Jul 2009

If I had the energy and inclination to look up on Google who it was that first quoted the phrase " Only two things in life are certain - Death and Taxes..." then I would do so, but unfortunately I have just returned from my quarterly visit to see the Asesor, and therefore I don't.

Let me set the scene - I'm Autonomo (Self Employed) and therefore I need to submit my IVA facturas every quarter so that the Hacienda can punish me for having the temerity to attempt to scrape a living. This means that every 3 months I need to collect all of my incoming and outgoing facturas - the Asesor then calculates the IVA I have been paid, and the IVA that I have paid out and I have a handful of days to pay the balance or else I am heavily fined by Sr. Hacienda. Of course, if it transpires that I have actually paid too much IVA then Sr. Hacienda kindly keeps this sum in credit on my behalf.

Further to that every June I must submit 2 Tax returns - 1 For my personal "Wealth" (Ha!), and one for my yearly business taxes. There is then a further matter of the yearly Property Tax from the Ayuntamiento that has just crept into my buzon.

So this week I now have to pay 4 Taxes for the year - so nice of them to spread them out for me to make payment so much easier.

However, this being Spain, it would be a sin for things to be this simple. I retain a small percentage of my earnings every month and pay them to the Hacienda (Basically so that at the end of the year I don't get an enormous bill, and in some cases I can get a rebate if and when I have paid too much). Last year I had actually paid far too much Tax due to my Tax code changing early on in the Tax year due to becoming a parent and as such I had a nice little sum due to be refunded to me. The Hacienda kindly allows everybody a couple of weeks to pay their taxes, however, if a rebate should be due then they allow themselves as long as they feel is necessary to press a button and credit a bank account. Last year it took 11 months for my rebate to be made. After chasing it for the 5th time with my Asesor I was calmly told to patient and that "this is way things are in Spain", after the 6th time of asking I think that they too were getting concerned and agreed to look into things.

My Asesor was told that I was being Investigated for Fraud (nice of them not to tell either myself or my Asesor!) - "Why?" - Because I was fraudulently claiming a Tax reduction for having a Child! - "Why Fraudulently?" - Because I clearly could not have a child as I was not married! (Gasp!)

It must have been confusing for Sr Hacienda as the (Spanish) Birth Certificate clearly naming me as the Father (with the child having my Surname) was enclosed in my File, so it must have been difficult for them to have all the details to hand. Likewise it must have been impractical for them to either pick up the phone to speak to my Asesor (or even cross the street to see them in person) and so I needed to be understanding that it could have taken 11 months to resolve this issue.

So I'm sure you can forgive me for losing my temper when exactly the same thing happened again this year.

AND, on top of that my Property Tax has come back fining me and charging me excess interest for refusing to pay the taxes on my neighbour's property. Last year I took the Bill to the Town Hall personally and offered to pay the sum outlined for my own property , but not for my neighbour's, only to be told that I had to pay all or nothing and that they would re-send the Bill shortly. Well they did - only a year later - and without the requested changes!

There are 3 things that I have learned from this: Patience, The value of having a good Asesor that understands the system & your financial situation, and that I'm grateful to be living within staggering distance of the local bar.

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