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4. Temporary autonomos - The Gestor Trap

This comes from a query sent to me from a person who took five months as an autonomo prior to being employed. Everything was done correctly as they employed a Gestor to do the work, but then they were surprised at the cost of the Gestor - again this is in addition to any tax or social security to be paid.

I am a British national working as a teacher in Catalunya and last summer I became autonomo in order to work a 5 week long teaching contract. I only worked these five weeks and have been employed by an academy since last Septembe. I have been trying to cancel my autonomo but am having problems with the legal advisory company who have handled it for me. The bill they are trying to charge me ends up at 350€ which includes a charge for 'Baja Reta' and 'Presentacion Modelos 1-2-3 T 130', which I'm pretty certain I'll just have to pay, but it also includes a charge of 114.95€ for 'certificado Digital+Notario+Regi'. Now having read your article is it correct that I could have gone to the office myself to get this certificate and it is not necessary that they do it and then charge me? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

MY REPLY: All the paperwork for an autonomo can in theory be done on your own. The problem is that the paperwork is horrible, and the tax office is very poor at saying what obligations you have with regard to paperwork, or at providing any useful help about how to fill things in, or helping with what you need to submit. The Spanish is heavy on legalese, the subjunctive and technical jargon, which makes the documentation tough to decipher if your language skills are poor, and there are areas, such as non-receipted expenses, that are vaguely defined and almost seem left to the interpretation of local tax offices.

So to start. Firstly you should have completed a Modelo 036, the form used to sign up (alta) as an autonomo. In principle, you just take this form back to the tax office and ask to sign off (Baja) - I haven't needed to do this yet but it should be this easy.

The Modelo 130 forms are declarations of income that an autonomo has to present each quarter (T1 = first quarter Jan-Mar, T2 = Apr-Jun etc). You will probably also have had to submit Modelo 303's for VAT (IVA). The whole the time you are still registered as autonomo, these forms have to be completed and submitted, even if they are zero.  There's a €75/100 fine if you miss one for any quarter you have the Alta (signed up as autonomo).

My understanding is that gestors will typically charge between 50-100€ a quarter for filing in and submitting these forms on your behalf.

In addtion to these quarterly forms, not mentioned in the question, is the Modelo 390 annual declaration of IVA due in January - this year (2014-15), for the first time, and for simple IVA situations, the need to submit a 390 has been removed.

And finally, any self-employed income needs to be included on your Renta (annual tax return) form which will need to be submitted in June.

A digital certificate that was mentioned is so that the gestor can submit forms electronically on your behalf. My guess is that the Notary part is so that you sign something to say the gestor can act on your behalf and the signature needed to be confirmed by a notary and so would have had a signing fee associated with it.

You can get a digital certificate yourself. It's free, but involves signing up online to a certification agency which gives you an id number. You then go to the tax office in person who validate your ID and authorises you to have the certificate. You can then download the certificate and install it on the browser of your computer and use the agenciatributaria's not very user-friendly website for submitting forms.

You could also visit your tax office to sign off - the baja should just be a case of getting your 036 modelo stamped (I believe), but if your gestor has done this already it won't reduce his bill.

The gestor will charge you for each form you submit, which quickly mounts up, and for visiting the tax office on your behalf - eg for the Modelo 036 and digital certificate both of which require physical visits. Obviously this is time that needs to be paid for.

Unfortunately, anyone on short-term, low-paid or temporary work is massively massively discriminated against by the way this works (there's probably a prima facie sex discrimination case here). Low paid autonomos can find themselves with effective tax rates of 50%+ once social security and gestor fees are taken into consideration plus a mound of burdensome admin and worry. And if you do have tax to reclaim, it can take months and months to get it back.

 The system isn't going to change in the short term unfortunately, so I guess you just have to bite bullet...


Previous article: 3. Low income and the Renta repayment trap Next article: 5. Trapped in bureaucracy - more forms for autonomos - Modelo 347

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