Archive for the ‘Domicile’ Category

Investing in Spanish offices

Friday, March 27th, 2015

After 7 years of real state inactivity in 2014 International Funds came back, transforming Spain into a hot market for commercial property investments again.

In 2014, investments in non residential assets of €7 billion almost tripled the investments in 2013. 


The investors were looking for well-located large shopping centres and office buildings, although the office market accounted for 39% of the transactions mainly in Madrid and Barcelona.

The tax advantages of investing via SOCIMI with Nil Corporation Tax, makes this type of spanish real state investment funds something to be considered. More information at the Spanish Tax Office site

We should also mention the advantages of obtaining Spanish residency by investing in Spain, via Spanish Golden Visa as featured in this article at

Are you eligible for a Spanish Golden Visa?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

In order to obtain a Spanish Residency permit by means of the Spanish Golden Visa scheme, you must make an investment in Spain. However, not just any investment will do. It must comply with the criteria exposed in the Spanish Entrepreneurial Act of 2013 in order to make you eligible for the Residency.

The first but not the only way to obtain the permit is by making a capital investment. And perhaps the easiest, most profitable and secure investment is in real state. The conditions are that you must be using at least €500,000 of your own funds to start with. However, above that threshold there is no limit to debt financing, for instance with a mortgage in Spain.

When making an investment of this type, there are specific taxes and fees one must consider.

  1. a) VAT or transfer Tax: up to 10%
  2. b) Stamp Tax, if applicable: 1%
  3. c) Land Registry, Notary and legal fees: up to 2%


So, it is important to keep in mind that, in order to apply for the Spanish Golden Visa, the total amount needed will rise approximately another 13% in order to actually be able to make the investment.

An alternative to acquiring real state is buying Stock shares of a Spanish Company; in this case the amount rises to 1.000.000€ or more. Other options are depositing 1.000.000€ or more in a Spanish financial company or acquiring Spanish Treasury  Bonds worth 2.000.000€ or more.


Lastly, you can also invest in business projects classified as “of general interest” if you can prove that the business will have a positive effect in job creation, or make a social or economic impact in the geographical area of the investment, or if it represents a significant contribution to scientific and/or technological innovation. The residency permit obtained by this type of investment requires the approval of the relevant Spanish authorities.


As you know, a Spanish Residency permit gives you access to all “Schengen” countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, or Switzerland, amongst many others.


Fair Tax Mark to reward tax justice

Monday, February 24th, 2014

¨In this interesting article published by The Guardian and written by Craig Scott, the author discusses the relevance, pros & cos of the Tax Mark launching as a reward for transparency and fairness in corporate taxation practices and policies.¨

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For many, Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote encapsulates everything we need to know about the inevitability of taxes. Yet over the past few years, it has become apparent that, for an increasing number of multinational companies, when it comes to tax, nothing is certain.

Google, Facebook and Amazon have all been criticised recently for the level of corporation tax they pay in the UK, but perhaps it was the US coffee giant Starbucks that attracted the most opprobrium when it was revealed in 2012 that the firm, at the time worth $40bn (£24bn), reportedly paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years.

These companies aren’t breaking any laws – they are simply taking advantage of the complexity of the corporate tax system.

Politicians are starting to act: plans were announced at last year’s G20 to close loopholes in the tax system. Public anger is also growing – in a recent survey commissioned by Christian Aid, 34% of Britons said they are currently boycotting a company because it does not pay its fair share of tax.

So how can the problem of corporate tax avoidance be tackled and the public’s understanding of the issue improved? At a recent roundtable discussion, hosted by the Guardian in association with Midcounties Co-operative, participants discussed the pros and cons of the Fair Tax Mark, which will launch today.

The Fair Tax Mark will use a set of metrics to assess companies on their tax and transparency. Companies that score a minimum of 13 out of 20 will be awarded a Fair Tax Mark. According to one of the directors of the Fair Tax Mark, Richard Murphy, the aim of the scheme is to allow companies who are paying the right amount of tax to stand out. “There are good companies in this world,” he said. “There are exemplars of good practice who are trying to pay the right amount of tax.”

How much is enough?

Yet for some participants, defining what the “right amount of tax” is could be problematic. “How do you pin down what a fair tax rate is?” asked Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. “There are all sorts of dynamics that come into it; even tax experts wouldn’t necessarily agree with each other.”

For Murphy, “right” means that the “economic substance” of what a company is doing in a certain country has to be reflected in the tax it pays. If the company only has a “filing cabinet” in that area, rather than having staff, sales and assets there, yet is supposedly generating a vast amount of profit, “that looks like a tax arrangement”.

He went on to tell the roundtable how a system of awarding “bonus points” would ensure the Fair Tax Mark didn’t unfairly penalise companies that had paid a low rate of tax for legitimate reasons. If, for example, a firm was entitled to tax relief to offset investment in R&D, the rating would accommodate this – as long as these reasons were disclosed.

This bonus marking system went some way to allaying the concerns of a few participants who felt that an earlier iteration of the Fair Tax Mark was too simplistic in its approach to tackling tax avoidance.

There are many other legitimate reasons why a company would not have to pay the headline rate of tax, said Mike Truman, editor of Taxation Magazine. “If you are operating within the law you shouldn’t be penalised,” he stressed.

Ken Olisa, corporate director of Thomas Reuters, said the tax system was dealing with very complicated issues; if it was reduced to something simple, it could inflame the public with headline views and “damage business and democracy”.

Olisa believed encouraging companies to be transparent about their tax affairs was a better approach. “Let the public and media form their [own] views,” he said.

But some participants felt the public would embrace having an easy way to tell if a company was paying a fair amount of tax or not, without becoming swamped with information. “All consumers want to know,” said Robert Hodgkins of the ICAEW, “is has it passed, or failed?”

“We are only going to be giving the mark to people who want it … we are not going to stand in judgement,” said Murphy, who was keen to emphasise companies would have to apply to receive Fair Tax Mark accreditation. The standard wouldn’t be imposed on companies or its findings released without their consent.

This operating model is standard in ethical certification, said Paul Monaghan, director of Up the Ethics. “A business says, ‘I’m thinking of certifying my supply chain, can I have a proxy audit?’ You then get an initial report back and the conversation begins,” he said. Sometimes this leads directly to certification, he added, and sometimes improvements and tweaks need to be made before certification is granted.

“If companies are concerned they are going to be highlighted unfairly, then part of the response to that has to be better reporting,” said Jenny Ricks, head of campaigns, Action Aid. “The onus is on them.”

But if signing up to the Fair Tax Mark is voluntary, why would businesses choose to do so? Parallels were drawn with the Fair Trade movement and other consumer-awareness campaigns. “These things started off very small and now they dominate global markets – they have become really influential,” said Rob Harrison, another Fair Tax Mark director.

When the Co-op began championing Fair Trade products, said Ben Reid, chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative, rival supermarkets soon followed suit “as it was seen as a unique selling point for Co-op and was taking market share”. Reid added that Fair Tax was now attracting the same type of passion. He said the Co-op’s energy business picked up hundreds of new customers last year after a large energy supplier was accused of avoiding paying corporation tax for a number of years and it became the subject of a boycott campaign. If the Fair Tax Mark becomes relevant to like-minded consumers, businesses will adopt it and “that is why this is important”, he added.

Companies are “responding to public demand for change on this issue”, said Ricks. “This will be another tool to democratise the debate around tax.”

Public anger

Alasdair Roxburgh, campaigns manager, Christian Aid, took up this point. There is public anger over tax, he said, “but at the moment it is not particularly directed or fully formed”. Roxburgh thought the Fair Tax Mark offered an opportunity to help people understand tax as an issue: “We need to get better at communicating why tax is important,” he said.

This could also be mutually beneficial for businesses, said Richard Wilcox, managing director of Unity Trust Bank. He used the Living Wage as an example, pointing out that businesses who signed up to that initiative began collaborating to ensure mutual success. Businesses that sign up to the Fair Tax Mark were likely to do the same: “It has the ability to snowball,” he said. “There is a clear business benefit there.”

Murphy agreed: “When all businesses understand each other and there is mutual trust, we will create prosperity and that can be shared.”

Roundtable participants were clearly coming round to the merits of the Fair Tax Mark, but a number of contributors wanted to know more about its business model. Would it become another organisation that both draws up industry standards and gets paid to help companies meet them, asked Olisa, such as the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which advises its clients on corporate governance. The danger in that is that shareholders have “handed over thinking” to the ISS, said Olisa, which can sometimes result in the organisation exerting an undue influence.

“It’s a paid-for standard,” admitted Harrison, but it will operate on a sliding scale “that will start on £200 for a tiny shop”. Half the fee will be charged for an assessment and then, if the assessment is passed, the company will pay the second half for a licence to display the mark which, he said, would be subject to annual assessment. Fair Tax Mark was a not-for-profit organisation, he added.

Other participants worried that the Fair Tax Mark would lose its relevance once the economy picked up. However, Oxfam’s economics justice policy adviser, Krisnah Poinasamy, said the effects of austerity “are going to last far longer than the implementation of it” and therefore the argument around “who is paying their fair share” would continue.

Olisa, who had voiced some reservations regarding the Fair Tax Mark, largely came around to the idea in the end, suggesting that if the scheme focused on “justice more than tax”, it could and should succeed. “The idea of tax justice, as a citizen, I find hugely attractive,” he said. “As a businessman, I find it hugely attractive. The only way we create wealth in society is through businesses and we have to operate in society, so it’s an easy argument.”

How does it work?

• The Fair Tax Mark aims to help organisations that apply for accreditation achieve maximum transparency and fairness in their taxation policies.

• A company’s publicly available information (website, annual accounts etc) will be examined to assess its transparency, tax rate, tax avoidance and tax disclosure.

• The criteria have been devised in consultation with NGOs, business representatives, industry practitioners and a seven-member technical team of academics and professionals. Development of the criteria is an ongoing process.

For up to date information on the Fair Tax Mark, visit

At the table

Larry Elliott (Chair) economics editor, the Guardian

Ben Reid chief executive, Midcounties Co-operative

Paul Monaghan director, Up the Ethics

Rob Harrison director, Fair Tax Mark; editor, Ethical Consumer Magazine

Robert Hodgkinson executive director of technical strategy, Institute of Chartered Accountants

Richard Murphy director, Fair Tax Mark; founder, Tax Research LLP

Ken Olisa OBE corporate director, ThomsonReuters; chair, Restoration Partners

Krisnah Poinasamy economics justice policy adviser, Oxfam

Jenny Ricks head of campaigns, Action Aid

Alasdair Roxburgh campaigns manager, Christian Aid

Mike Truman editor, Taxation magazine

Chas Roy-Chowdhury head of taxation, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Richard Wilcox managing director, Unity Trust Bank



EU new Inheritance regulations affecting EU residents in Spain

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession is applicable from 17th August 2015.

According to the new regulation, EU citizens residing in Spain will be subject to the Spanish succession law despite their nationality, unless they have a written will.

Succession laws in Spain abide by the force heirship provisions and it is fundamental for international residents in Spain to have their will in good order, in addition to the one in their countries.

Konsilia has been serving the international expatriate community in Spain since 1982 and we are very happy to draft your will or advice on any other legal or tax issues related to Spanish residence. Please contact Jose Manuel Diaz at

Give up your US Citizenship to Save Taxes

Friday, May 18th, 2012

It is well known in the international tax forums that US citizens tax planning is an impossible mission.

As reported in the LA Times: Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin gives up citizenship: Shrewd tax move?

“Here’s a tax tip for Mark Zuckerberg: Give up your U.S. citizenship. The 27-year-old Facebook Inc. founder could face a tax bill of more than $1 billion after the company’s initial public offering, expected next week. His former Harvard classmate who is known as “the other Facebook founder” may have found a way to cut the bill. Eduardo Saverin, who now lives in Singapore, has given up his U.S. citizenship. Tax experts say it’s a shrewd move. Saverin, who was immortalized in the film “The Social Network” as Zuckerberg’s contentious former friend and business partner, has a 4% stake in the company, according to the Who Owns Facebook? website. His stake could be worth nearly $4 billion after the IPO.

“It’s definitely savvy tax planning,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor of law at USC who specializes in federal tax policy and international taxation. “He can argue that the value of the Facebook shares in September, when he gave up his citizenship, were significantly less than the value that will be set at the IPO next week.”
Saverin’s spokeswoman said his decision to jump ship had nothing to do with the upcoming IPO and the potential tax liability. (more…)

UK Tax Budget 2012

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

UK Tax Budget 2012 – The Association of Taxation Technicians has produced a Special Report on the March Budget in their April 2012 Newsletter. The full Report is detailed below:

The contents of George Osborne’s third Budget were so well rehearsed that the real thing threatened to be an anti-climax. Was there anything left that the Chancellor could surprise us with, especially as he had such little fiscal room for manoeuvre?

The answer was both yes and no. After all the income tax rumours, Mr Osborne decided to make the change to 45% from April 2013. His 2013/14 increase in the personal allowance allowed him to start phasing out the age allowance – an unexpected revenue-raising ploy.

Income tax bands, rates and personal allowances All income tax rates for 2012/13 will remain at their 2011/12 levels. For 2013/14 the personal allowance will rise from £8,105 to £9,205 and there will be a £2,125 reduction in the basic rate limit from £34,370 to £32,245.

From 2013/14, there will be no increase in the age-related personal allowances and their availability will be restricted to people born before 6 April 1948 for the allowance worth £10,500, and 6 April 1938 for the allowance worth £10,660. The aim is to phase out the age-related allowances within a few years. For 2013/14 the additional rate of tax will be reduced from 50% to 45% (from 42.5% to 37.5% for dividends). The rates of tax for trusts will be similarly reduced.

A cap on unlimited income tax reliefs will apply to income tax reliefs that individuals will be able to claim from 6 April 2013. The cap will apply only to reliefs that are currently unlimited – e.g. qualifying interest payments. For anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 in reliefs, a cap will be set at 25% of income (or £50,000, whichever is greater). (more…)

Significant Tax Changes Announced in Spain 2012 Budget

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

On March 30, 2012, the Spanish government announced the 2012 budget. At the same time, the government approved Royal Decree-Law 12/2012, which introduces a number of relevant changes in the corporate tax area, including new limitations on the deductibility of interest expense.

Interest-capping rule

Following a trend started by other European governments, the Spanish government has introduced an interest-capping rule that replaces the existing thin capitalization provisions. The new interest-capping rule, which will apply to both related- and unrelated-party debt, limits tax relief for net interest expense to 30 percent of the taxpayer’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (“EBITDA”), with some adjustments. For entities that are part of a tax consolidated group, this 30-percent limit will apply to the EBITDA of the group. (more…)

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