Income tax in Spain – Part 1


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Understand what makes you tax resident in Spain, and how your income will be taxed. Part 1 looks at general income, savings income and employment income.

As a resident of Spain you will be liable for income tax on your worldwide income and gains at progressive scale rates after any available allowances and deductions, depending on the region where you are resident. Non-residents of Spain will be liable for Spanish income tax only on Spanish income and gains at fixed rates and with generally less or nil allowances or deductions.

You will become Spanish resident for tax purposes if any of the following criteria are met:

  1. You spend more than 183 days in one calendar year in Spain, i.e. 1st January to 31st December, which is the tax year. These days do not have to be consecutive and temporary absences from Spain will be ignored unless it can be proved that you are habitually resident in another country. You will become liable to tax whether or not you are formally registered in Spain.
  2. Your ‘centre of economic interests’ is in Spain, i.e. the base for your economic or professional activities is in Spain, or if most of your assets are located in Spain.
  3. Your ‘centre of vital interests’ is in Spain, i.e. your spouse lives in Spain (and you are not legally separated) and/or your dependent minor children live in Spain. If this applies you will be considered Spanish resident regardless of how many days you spend in Spain, unless you can prove that you are resident in another country (i.e. if you hold a tax residency certificate issued by another country).

In Spain there is no split year treatment, you are either resident or not resident for the whole tax year.

How income is taxed

Income (including capital gains) is split into ‘general income’ (renta general) and ‘savings income’ (renta del ahorro). After being calculated according to the rules for each particular type of income within each category, the total of ‘general’ and ‘savings’ is termed the base imponible (or taxable base). After any deductions and allowances it is then known as the base liquidable (net taxable base).

Savings income

Residents are taxed on their worldwide savings income and capital gains at progressive tax rates and non-residents on their Spanish savings income and gains at a fixed rate.

Savings income includes:

  • interest income
  • dividends
  • income from life assurance contracts
  • purchased annuity income
  • income from capital gains on the sale/transfer of assets.

If you are a Spanish resident, the savings income and capital gains rates for 2017 are:

Tax band Tax rate
€0 – €6,000 19%
€6,000 – €50,000 21%
Over €50,000 23%


If you are a non-resident, you pay taxes on savings income and capital gains at a flat rate of 19% (subject to tax treaty provisions) on your Spanish source income only.

General income

If you are a Spanish resident, you are taxed on your worldwide ‘general’ income at progressive scale rates. Anything not categorised as savings income is included here, including:

  • all earned income (i.e. salary, self-employment and pension income)
  • rental income
  • notional rental income
  • income from royalties
  • gains not made on the sale/transfer of assets (for example, from gambling and lottery).

The income tax scale rates are made up of the ‘state tax rates’ and the ‘regional tax rates’ (which are set independently by each particular Spanish autonomous community). Generally, for 2017 general income, the tax rates start at 19% for income under €12,450 and rise up to 45% for income over €60,000. However, the rates can vary according to the regional tax rates that apply in that autonomous community, so income tax rates in your area may be slightly higher or lower than this.

If you are a non-resident, you pay taxes only on your Spanish source income and capital gains at the flat rate of 19% if you are resident in another EU/EEA (European Union/European Economic Area) country. Residents outside the EU/EEA will pay 24% instead.

Deductions and allowances

Deductions and allowances are generally available for Spanish residents. The ‘Mínimo Personal y Familiar’ is similar to the UK personal allowance. Any allowance not used against the general income can be set against the savings income.

The basic Spanish personal allowance for 2017 is €5,550 per person. For joint tax returns the allowance given to the first spouse is €5,550 plus €3,400 for the second spouse. The basic allowance is increased by €1,150 for someone aged 65 or more (so €6,700 in total) and by a further €1,400 for someone aged 75 or more (€8,100 in total). Additional allowances are made for dependent family members, ranging from €1,150 to €4,500 according to the age and number of dependents. There are also extra allowances of at least €3,000 for dependants with a disability.

Note that the allowances are not given as a deduction against income (as in the UK), but instead are given as a tax credit against the total tax payable. The amount of credit is calculated by taking the total personal allowance and multiplying this by the scale rates of tax, starting with the lowest rate first. It is then deducted from the taxpayer’s total tax payable for the year. This has the effect of relieving tax not at the taxpayer’s marginal rate, but first at the lowest rate of around 19%, and then at the higher rates where applicable.

Employment income

If you are a Spanish resident and physically work in the UK for a non-Spanish employer, your income will usually be taxed in the UK.

If all or some of the employment is carried out in Spain, you will be subject to tax in Spain on the proportion of the employment income relating to the work performed in Spain. So a resident of Spain working for and paid by a UK employer will usually be taxed in the UK on employment income relating to duties performed in the UK. If no duties are performed in the UK, then the earnings cannot be subject to UK tax. If all duties are performed in Spain, the earnings will be subject to tax in Spain.

If you perform duties in the UK for a Spanish employer and spend fewer than 183 days in the UK during the UK tax year, you will only pay income tax in Spain.

Social Security contributions will also be payable on employment income. These are usually paid to one country only, based on total earnings. The country where they are payable will depend on various factors, including where the work is performed and where the individual is habitually resident.


Self-employment income is subject to tax at the progressive scale rates of tax in Spain.
The amount taken into account for tax is the net profit – the gross income less the expenses of the business.

All self-employed traders and businesses must register for VAT (IVA) in Spain regardless of turnover. The standard rate of Spanish IVA is 21% although certain services are exempt or subject to reduced rates.

Social Security contributions are also payable, and these are tax deductible in Spain. If you are self-employed, a minimum contribution of around €285 per month is payable, regardless of profits.

Part 2 of this article looks at how pension and rental income is taxed in Spain.

Any questions? Ask our advisers for help.

The tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual must take personalised advice.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.