Paying Taxes in Spain

pesetasThe villa is built and we are enjoying it immensely. However I had to find out how to pay the property taxes and how much they will be. I knew that there was a 20% penalty if they were not paid on time. It seemed like everything should be straight forward, but we learned that not everything happens as we think it might in Spain.

I found that all of this was done by the town hall (ayuntamiento) so I went to Salobreña, found the right department and in my best Spanish told them that I wanted to pay my taxes. “What is the number of your parcela (lot)?” they asked. “2254” I replied. “There is no such lot.” they told me. This led to an interesting, confusing and useless conversation. I told them that there indeed was such a lot, showed them my deed and said that you could see the lot from their office. The responded by saying that they knew it was there, but it wasn’t in their register and so I couldn’t pay the tax. When I asked them how to get it into the register and who could do that, I got the Spanish shrug; something I was about to see frequently.

Over the next five years I tried everything even writing them in Spanish. I did get an official reply but I couldn’t understand it so I took it to a professor of Spanish at the university. She just laughed and said they had copied several pages from a Spanish legal text, but that it had nothing at all to do with taxes. Each year I repeated the same process at the ayuntamiento and while they were always friendly and often invited me in for coffee, nothing actually got done.

One day another foreigner beside me at the counter said to ask them if the property was still registered in the name of the former owner. I asked them if it was and gave them Willi’s name. Sure enough this was the case and of course he hadn’t paid any taxes after I bought it. I told the senorita that I wanted to settle the matter and pay. She asked if I would be willing to settle for two of the five years owing. When I asked her how much that would be, she ripped off a corner of the ledger (including the names of several taxpayers) and wrote the equivalent of $170.00 on it and passed it back. I gladly paid it and changed Willi’s name to mine myself and that seemed to solve everything

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