When a Spanish VAT return is in a repayable position, a VAT refund can only be requested in the December or Q4 VAT return (unless the business is in the Monthly Refund Scheme).
At the bottom of the VAT return, there are sections that can be ticked to determine whether the VAT position should be paid to the authorities (‘a ingresar’), carried forward to the next period (´a compensar´) repaid to the taxpayer (‘solicitar devolucion’). In case of repayment, you must complete the section at the bottom of the form with the IBAN details of a SEPA bank account. Following the changes introduced in May 2016, a Spanish bank account is no longer required.
It is also possible to request a repayment by cheque sent to the Spanish address of the business. This cheque could then be cashed in a foreign bank. To receive this cheque, an application needs to be sent in writing to the tax authorities.
The Spanish authorities must reimburse the VAT within six months following the VAT refund request. An audit interrupts this six month limit. In case VAT is refunded after the six month period (even when an audit has been carried by the authorities), interest will be paid in addition to the VAT amount.
Audits are not always carried when requesting a refund, however, these happen often for material amounts or significant trend changes in the VAT position.