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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Evading tax

I got a letter from the tax people yesterday. Now letters from the tax people are not written in normal, everyday Spanish. They are Brontesque in style. With the envelope ripped open and the single page scanned it looked bad. There were lots of words I didn't understand but it was clear that the Revenue, Hacienda, were unhappy about the tax I'd paid on my pension. Tax people can be nasty. Tax people take your house and send you to prison when you're naughty. Unless of course you are very, very rich in which case they are extremely nice to you.

I explained my situation last year in a post on Life in La Unión Just a quick recap. Normally, if you are a Spanish resident, your worldwide income is taxed in Spain. However, I have a local government pension from the UK and there is an agreement between Spain and the UK that government pensions are taxed at source, in the UK. So far so good but where I turn into Al Capone is about my additional voluntary contributions. They provide an additional pension of about forty quid a month. Rather than declare that cash in Spain I simply left it in the UK tax regime. I shouldn't have done. I should have declared it in Spain.

The financial year in Spain is the calendar year. Sometime early in the year, March I think, Hacidenda do their sums and decide whether you owe them money or they owe you money. In 2014, for the tax year 2013, they caught up with me. I came clean and paid the unpaid tax. It was about 70€. The tax office said that to sort out the same underpayment for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 I'd have to go to an accountant. So I did. I just chose an asesor at random in the town where I was living, La Unión and asked for advice. To be honest the accountant didn't exude reliability but he told me that I earned so little in total that it was all straightforward and I didn't need to do anything. No fines, no clink and no public humiliationn coming my way.

So when I got that letter I started to curse the accountant and think bad thoughts about the man from the Prudential who sold me those worthless AVCs too. Ten minutes later though with a more careful reading of the letter, and only needing to look up two words as it turned out, I realised that the tax people were actually offering an amnesty to we foreigners who hadn't paid up on our pensions. They mentioned the special circumstances we are under i.e. we don't understand the lingo or the culture and we have no idea what's going on. We have till June to sort it out.

Now I have an accountant because I am technically self employed. I phoned him. No worry he said. If it wasn't sent registered post it isn't dangerous. We can talk about it when we next meet.

Thinking about it this letter is actually good. It's a general letter. The accountant in La Unión could be right and it could be that I owe no tax. It could also be that the accountant in La Unión was wrong and I do owe some tax. However, with the amnesty there will be no fine and no interest to pay so the worst it could be is four times the amount I handed over last year or thereabouts. But the best thing is that Hacienda has a process for sorting this out and once I've filled in the appropriate forms and paid any debts it will all be nice and starightforward.

And I do value a quiet life now I'm in my dotage.

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