Spanish tax law is slow to keep up with the new times and so when buying (and selling) at discounted prices, a common occurrence these days, it may well happen that in 6 months from completion we receive a letter from the tax office asking us to pay more tax.
This is exactly what happened to a client who approached us after purchasing a property in Benahavis for €250,000, when he was sent the letter asking him to pay an extra €3,850, on account of Transfer Tax (7%) on €305,000 which is the value property should have, according to the tax office.
Why does this happen? Well, the regional Tax Offices in charge of transfer taxes uses a calculator which tells us what the minimum value each property should be sold at and therefore, if any property is sold under this value they will recalculate our tax declaration and will request that we pay the balance, using the property which has been bought as a guarantee of payment (a charge is immediately placed in the land registry).
Possible scenarios and options:
- What can be done before you buy? If you are buying a property at a discounted price we suggest that the minimum value is known prior to entering into negotiations with a seller and if there is a likelihood that the tax will be more then use when negotiating a price, to your advantage. So if you want to know what is the assessed value for tax purposes of a property in Andalusia, according to the Tax Office, you can do so by using this calculator (note that although an accurate calculation it is not legally binding).
- And if you have already bought and receive the letter…? If it was already known and made part of the deal then it gets paid, but if we receive the letter “out of the blue” (because we never suspected it could happen) then it can either be paid or appealed, a process likely to run into a 2 year period (but nowadays they can be won as judges consider that a calculator is no substitute to a proper valuation to be carried out in situ).
- And what if we are selling? This is a more complex case as the tax office in charge of capital gains tax (CGT) is the national AEAT, which does not use the above calculator but does actually send over property valuers. If this is the case, of which our firm has had very few in the last seven years, we will analyze the facts and merits of the case and advise on what the best course of action is. In one case we had our client had sold cheap (€350,000) because he had personal financial matters to resolve and soon after selling he left the country with the proceeds (very small, incidentally), so we have not heard more from the AEAT Tax Office who reported the real value to be of €450,000. Again, an appeal here is also an option.
If you want to avoid surprises it is possible to apply for a legally binding value report, whether you are buying or selling, which your lawyer can apply and obtain for you.