The number of rich people in Spain broke a record before the arrival of the pandemic: taxpayers with incomes higher than 601,000 euros in 2019 reached a historical maximum of 11,907 people, according to the statistics of income tax filers from the Tax Agency (AEAT). This figure represents a 4.7% rebound compared to the previous year and already more than double the figure for 2013, when the wealthiest group reached the lowest point in the series.
With this increase, the number of rich maintains its growth path for the sixth consecutive year. The number of wealthiest filers began to decline after the financial crisis – between 2007 and 2008 it fell by almost 24%, from 10,580 taxpayers to 8,059 – until reaching a turning point in 2013. Then, with the return of solid growth that made Spain one of the countries that advanced the most among the large European economies, the group of the wealthiest people again gained weight at a sustained rate.
The first milestone was marked in 2018. The number of high rents had not only returned to levels prior to the bursting of the housing bubble; for the first time it exceeded the 2007 level. In 2019, the figure rose again despite a general slowdown in the world economy, reaching a new high. The bulk of this group is concentrated in Madrid (5,444 statements) and Catalonia (2,624), which account for almost 70% of the total. At the same time, the total number of filers has also increased year after year. The Tax Agency recorded more than 21 million settlements related to the year of 2019, compared to 20.6 million the previous year.
The statistics of the Tax Agency are published with two years of lag, and take from the data of the income statement. The latest series reflects the returns obtained in 2019 and reflected in the 2020 declaration, just before the coronavirus tsunami plunged economic activity to levels never seen in peacetime. In its publication, the AEAT groups the settlements into 10 different tranches, depending on the amount. The highest of these refers to returns above € 601,000, but there is no breakdown above this figure. In other words, it is not possible to know how many of these taxpayers are millionaires.
Despite the increase registered in 2019, declarations over 601,000 euros only represent a small part of the total: 0.06%. Even adding to this group the two immediately lower tranches – between 150,000 and 601,000 euros, and between 60,000 and 150,000 -, the specific weight on the whole is small: 4.3%, slightly more than 900,000 filers.
The largest group is made up of the income of the lowest tranches, below 21,000 euros: this interval represents almost 60% of the total and adds up to more than 12.5 million settlements. In this scale, the taxpayers with annual returns between 12,000 and 21,000 euros are the most numerous, weighing almost 21%. Even so, its participation in the group fell both in percentage and absolute terms in 2019: in the first case, the decline is more than half a percentage point, and 5% in absolute figures. The number of settlements relating to returns between 6,000 and 12,000 euros has also decreased, while all other tranches have grown.
The statistics of the Tax Agency also offers data on average incomes by type of economic activity. In 2020, both wage earners and self-employed increased their reported returns relative to the year 2019. The first group, discounting contributions and other expenses, earned on average 23,171 euros, the highest figure in the historical series and 2.7% higher than 2018 Regarding self-employed workers, the rebound was even greater: 5.6%, to 15,139 euros. In both cases, growth has been uninterrupted in recent years.
Among the self-employed who pay by modules, the evolution is different. The average income declared by this group of professionals, made up of less than 400,000 taxpayers, has been falling for years. In 2019, it fell 0.6%, to 10,336 euros.
This scheme can only accommodate a limited number of activities and up to a maximum billing limit. Unlike the rest of the self-employed, this group is taxed based on certain characteristics of their business – such as the square footage of the premises – and not based on their actual income and expenses. A more beneficial formula that also hides large pockets of fraud, hence the constant proposal to eliminate it. Since 2009, their average yields have been falling, except for occasional increases in 2014, 2015 and 2017. These decreases have also increasingly widened the average gap between moduleros and employees: in 2019 it was 12,835 euros, 5.6% more than the previous year
The number of millionaires grows
Although the Tax Agency does not break down the statistics of personal income tax filers how many millionaires there are in Spain, the consulting firm Capgemini does carry out this exercise in its World Wealth Report. In its latest analysis, published this Friday and relating to 2020, it analyzes the evolution of great fortunes and accumulated wealth, taking into account not only the returns from economic activities but also the assets they collect. And despite the pandemic, it concludes that the number of rich people in Spain – with investment assets of more than a million dollars, excluding the main residence and other assets – has grown by 700 people compared to 2019, to 236,100 taxpayers in total. His assets have advanced somewhat more, 2%, to 683,400 million.
This increase in the number of millionaires, less than the one registered a year ago ―of 0.3% compared to 5% -, has made Spain lose a position in the global ranking, going from 14th to 15th place. “The drastic decrease of 10.8% of GDP in 2020, the worst figure since 1970 and the slowdown in the economy with the consequent decrease in spending and consumer investment are conditioning factors of this evolution “, says the analysis of the French consultancy.
Globally – the report focuses on 71 markets, which account for more than 98% of global gross national income and 99% of market capitalization – the number of large fortunes advanced 6.3%, exceeding 20 million . It also increased its assets, 7.6%, to touch 80 billion dollars. North America is at the top, both in number of great fortunes and in total amount of assets, surpassing the Asia-Pacific region that led the ranking for the last five years.
Specifically, North America registered a growth of 10.7% in the number of millionaires in 2020 and 11.9% of equity. In Asia-Pacific the growth was 5.8% and 8.4%, respectively, and in Europe 2.8% and 4.5%. The United States, Japan, Germany and China have 63% of the world’s richest population, compared to 58.4% in 2012.
The group of the ultra-rich – the fortunes of more than 30 million dollars – was the one that grew the most globally, both in number of people and in volume of wealth, with advances of 9.6% and 9.1%. The report highlights that sustainable investments have increased, as well as those directed to cryptocurrencies and other digital assets such as domain names or applications.
The Bloomberg Index of the World’s Greatest Fortunes had already made it clear: the coronavirus has damaged the world economy, but unevenly. And the pockets of the richest, in general, have dodged the blow: the richest people on the planet increased their wealth by 24% in 2020, to 1.77 trillion dollars (1.44 trillion euros) altogether. .