The Treasury has already launched its new tool to hunt down the rich who pretend to live abroad: massive data analysis (big data). With the help of this instrument, it has examined 126 taxpayers with relevant assets to find out if they really reside abroad or if, on the contrary, they should pay taxes in Spain. This is clear from the results of the tax control for the year 2020 published by the Tax Agency, which indicates that the verification actions on this hundred large fortunes are still ongoing.
The Tax Agency was already carrying out specific control tasks to determine where large assets reside, through the tracking of information such as expenses in establishments or family relationships. Thanks to big data, the agency now has a tool ad hoc to cross over 70 different sources of information and select taxpayers with relevant assets that could be defrauding the treasury.
According to Spanish regulations, it is necessary to live abroad for at least half the year (183 days) to be considered a tax resident abroad and not have to pay taxes in Spain. The law that regulates personal income tax also takes into account other elements, such as the closest family ties and the place where the relevant and operational center of economic interests is located, such as bank accounts.
This new control instrument had been one of the main novelties of the general guidelines of the Annual Tax and Customs Control Plan 2021, published in February in the Official State Gazette (BOE). In the document, the Tax Agency indicated that the big data it would facilitate the work “to know in an agile and efficient way the signs of residence” and thereby intensify the control “of relocated citizens who have a relevant level of assets or income”. The agency added that this group of taxpayers has more capacity to make use of complex tax engineering techniques to hide their assets, which requires “the use of sophisticated analysis mechanisms to investigate and understand complex financial and corporate frameworks.”
Shortly before the Tax Agency published its tax control plan, the famous youtuber The Rubius had announced his move to Andorra, reopening the debate on the payment of taxes of the great digital creators. This microstate, which until a few years ago Spain included in its list of tax havens, has much lower tax rates than neighboring countries. Rubén Doblas Gundersen ―the real name of El Rubius― then clarified that he was not moving for tax reasons, although he added that the principality’s taxation was “a plus”.
The list of celebrities, athletes and artists who have moved to Andorra is long. And some of them were hunted because they actually continued to reside in Spain, such as the late singer Montserrat Caballé or the tennis player Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Another star of the show that is currently under the scrutiny of the Treasury is Shakira, but not for moving to the principality: the Treasury accuses him of defrauding the Spanish treasury 14.5 million by pretending to live in the Bahamas.
Regularized 3,000 million to multinationals
As expected, the pandemic has left its mark on the results of the fight against fraud: the inspection actions carried out in 2020 decreased by 2.3% compared to 2019, as a result of the suspension of administrative deadlines for more than two months and confinements, which have limited face-to-face inspections. Despite this general decline, actions on large companies, multinationals and groups have grown by 7.9%, because many of them were already in an advanced phase when the health crisis broke out.
This is how the Tax Agency regularized tax bases of 3,000 million to multinationals last year for their international activity, an increase of 67% over the previous year, as a result of 82 inspection checks carried out in collaboration with the National Office for International Taxation ( ONFI). In the case of large technology companies, the Treasury has made progress in the actions carried out in 2018 that continued in 2019 and 2020: last year it regularized tax bases for more than 130 million and revised upwards the calculation of tax bases insured by APAs (Previous Agreements Valuation) up to 800 million euros for the next few years.
In the case of large assets of natural persons, the Treasury managed to scratch 437 million euros. This is a 28% decrease compared to 2019, but a 25% increase compared to two years ago. Since 2018, when the Central Unit for the Coordination of the Control of Relevant Assets was created, to date, almost 1,400 million of this group have been liquidated.