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Fine for non-submission of VAT form

When I first registered as autonomo, I didn't receive any notification or certificate for VAT and so didn't know I needed to complete an IVA declaracion. I've now been fined for non-submission  - business-friendly isn't it!

There is more to come with all the gory details of the letter etc. But in brief: following the original letter about the missing declaracion (the first and only letter after signing up to be an autonomo) I wrote back in my best Spanish explaining the I had not had a letter from them saying I could start or a certificate for VAT as you get in the UK, and as such I had not actually started working or earning and there was as such, no missing tax to be paid.

Unfortunately this doesn't seem to cut any ice. As soon as you sign up as an Autonomo, you have to start completing the forms. It was my responsibility and apparently you shouldn't expect any communication from the tax office to let you know everything is OK. Let alone expect a letter to welcome you to the system and give you a bit of useful information!

So as a result, here in April I've been fined €75 twice for non-submission on time for July and October last year (see how slow things work). So despite trying to be as upfront and honest as I can be - I declared myself automono voluntarily which strictly speaking I didn't need to do, and I didn't  even trying to get earning income (or claiming VAT refunds) while I waited to receive a notification from the tax office about IVA. - I got fined €150.

There is an argument that says I should have used a Gestor and I shouldn't be trying to do this myself, but sometimes it's more useful to learn and share that knowledge, even if it's a bit painful at times. In the UK I've done VAT for 3 companies over 8 years - it doesn't need to be that complicated.

There is a cultural thing here. To go through a quasi-legal process to raise a fine for a simple mistake caused by poor communication seems to habour a view that business people as dangerous elements to be kept strictly in-line, rather than honest people who occasionally make mistakes, but who would then rapidly take steps to correct things. In the UK attitudes are very different. When mistakes are made the first course of action for the tax authorities is a phone call or query letter to try to put things right. In Spain it feels that business isn't welcomed.

Perhaps as a result, people game the system and take shortcuts here in Spain. There are large scale reforms that could be taken to make Spanish tax more efficient and easier for tax-payers, but it is not clear that there's a political will - the tax office employs too many people.




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