Blogs in this series

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.

Monday, May 02, 2016


The Post Office sends me a text message when there is something that needs signing for waiting in our post box. This is often good. If we have an order on the way from Amazon or Decathlon it means it's parcel opening time. But it can be bad too. It's the way that the local police make sure that you have the notification of the parking fine and it's the way the tax office tells you that you've been fiddling your tax and you're in trouble.

The one today was a Model 990 form from the Catastro, the Land Registry. My reading of Spanish isn't too bad. For instance I just knocked off a novel by Carmen Martín Gaite of about 260 pages in under a week with the usual few pages a day workday reading. But official Spanish is something else. The tax man and the local government woman don't see why they should use a common word when there is a long and unknown one available in the thicker versions of the dictionary.

I got the gist though. The Registry said that our house deeds were not up to date and they wanted 60€ for sorting out the paperwork. If we chose to fight them with lawyers we could but, otherwise, cough up in the next fifteen days. I didn't hesitate. I went to a bank in Pinoso and paid.

I've just had a more detailed re-read of the letter. There is a lengthy explanation of each section of the form. It made me snigger and snort as the terminology varies between the explanatory notes and the real form. So on the explanatory notes it may say multiplier - the figure by which we multiply the rateable value of your property to arrive at nominal value but, on the actual form, it says co-efficient of multiplication.

The upshot is plain. The rateable value of the house has increased. The local taxes we pay are based on that nominal value of the house. If the supposed value of the house increases then our tax burden increases with it. I presume that the next stage will be an arrears demand for the difference between the taxes we have paid and the taxes we should have paid.

You are supposed to get permission from the local town hall to do almost any work on your house. Generally people do this when it's somethng obvious - changing windows - or something that changes the footprint of the house - building an extension for instance. Technically though you are supposed to do it for nearly everything. When I heard someone explaining this on the radio she used the example of replacing the bathroom tiles. Apparently, every time we get any work done on the house, as well as getting permission to do it from the town hall, we are supposed to tell the Land Registry. Whilst people do usually or at least sometimes get the town hall licences I suspect that nobody does the Registry bit and I further suspect that the Government knows this. So they came up with a wheeze of a plan. Rather than actually try to fine everyone they simply regularise the records for a nominal 60€. Almost nobody is going to fight a 60€ charge as it would cost nearly as much to ask a lawyer whether it was worth fighting. So, by getting someone to check town hall licences against catastral records the Government has a nice little earner.

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