The Spanish finance ministry has said that being trapped in the country during lockdown between March and June will not excuse foreign citizens from having to pay tax in Spain.
In response to a query by a Lebanese family who had spent longer than expected in Spain, the ministry ruled that no exceptions would be made to the rule under which spending 183 days of a year in the country automatically makes foreigners tax residents.
The Spanish government noted that when the lockdown ended on June 21, there were still 10 more days to go before a person who had started the year in Spain would reach the 183-day limit.
This strict interpretation stands in contrast with the UK government’s position, where an extended stay in the country due to a lockdown-enforced situation may be considered “exceptional circumstances”.
Anyone found to have spent more than half the year in Spain must pay tax on all of their income, no matter in what country it has been earned, as well as potential liability for property and inheritance levies.
Lawyers in Spain say that anyone who has unexpectedly spent more than six months in the country should keep documents to show efforts to leave earlier, such as tickets for cancelled flights, to help contest the resulting tax bill.
“These Lebanese citizens and others in a similar situation should collect all the evidence at their disposal to demonstrate their intention to return to their country as soon as possible after the end of the state of emergency,” said Joaquín López Avellaneda of the Martínez-Echevarría law firm.