Friday, September 22

Tax havens in Spain

How are Panama and the municipality of Sarratella in Castellón or Rozas de Puerto Real in Madrid similar? What unites the Virgin Islands with the Valencian Puebla de San Miguel or the Catalan Rajadell? Indeed, oddly enough, in that in all cases it is about tax havens, just as it sounds. Panama and the Virgin Islands are known international tax havens while Sarratella, Puebla de San Miguel, Rozas del Puerto Real or Rajadell are tax havens for the large fleets of vehicles that take refuge in these municipalities, so as not to pay what corresponds to them from the Tax on Mechanical Traction Vehicles, better known as the Circulation Tax.

Thus, Sarratella with only 101 inhabitants has registered up to 9,718 vehicles, that is, 96 cars per inhabitant! Along the same lines, Puebla de San Miguel with 61 inhabitants has 5,525 vehicles, 91 per inhabitant; Rozas de Puerto Real, 26,297 vehicles for 527 inhabitants, 50 vehicles per capita; and Rajadell, 18,481 vehicles for 539 inhabitants, 34 cars for each Rajadellano.

How is this possible? The Regulatory Law of Local Treasury that regulates the tax sets the fee but, as is logical for those of us who believe in decentralization and local autonomy, allows municipalities to vary this fee within certain margins. And here the picaresque is born. Some municipalities such as those mentioned reduce the tax rate to a minimum (normally, half of the rate established by most large municipalities), with which they obtain astronomical income by attracting large fleet companies that fraudulently domicile their vehicles in these towns. small in which they do not really perform any activity. The picaresque reaches the extreme in which some of these vehicles have their domicile, in the absence of any company establishment, in the same headquarters of the paradisiacal town hall. In Barcelona alone, this illegal practice represents an evasion of almost three million euros per year.

Barcelona City Council, within its plan to fight tax fraud with which it has already recovered 150 million euros globally, has incorporated the fight against these internal tax havens. The first favorable sentences have recently been obtained in which the domiciliation of these large fleets in towns where they do not carry out any activity is described as a fraud of law. This is stated, for example, by the Contentious Administrative Court No. 17 of Barcelona in relation to Aguilar de Segarra, another tax haven: “it should be noted that it is surprising that a company based in Barcelona has its vehicles domiciled in a small town in the Bages of about 280 inhabitants, whose main activity is agriculture and livestock and it is not right to understand what need the inhabitants of said population will have to rent vehicles. In addition, there is no commercial establishment of any kind or sign, or anything that indicates that vehicles are rented there and on the other hand it is clear that the domicile of the plaintiff entity is in Barcelona. Everything seems to indicate that we are in the presence of a fraud of law, in the sense of using a hypothetical legal possibility to avoid paying taxes in the city in which the plaintiff carries out her commercial activity, Barcelona, ​​obviously with a tax rate much higher than the of Aguilar de Segarra. It is not that it is not legitimate for the plaintiff entity to seek to reduce its tax burden as much as possible, it is that what cannot be done for this purpose is to use a simulated or non-existent domicile, established solely and solely to avoid taxes.

The fight against tax fraud is essential for real equality and tax havens are necessary collaborators with tax evaders. Unmitigated conviction is necessary for those taxpayers who put the welfare state at risk for personal benefit (fraud exceeds 60,000 million euros in Spain, according to data from the European Union) but also with those public administrations that make it possible. Sometimes the best way to pay less taxes is a good tax fraud policy. The goal is not for people to pay more, but for those who have to pay to pay.