VAT Returns in Spain
Frequency of Spanish VAT returns
As a general rule, VAT returns are filed quarterly in Spain. The quarterly periods follow the calendar quarters, from January to March, April to June, etc.
Where the Spanish revenue of a business exceeds the 6,010,121.04€ threshold during the previous calendar year, or where the business applies for the Monthly Refund Scheme, monthly VAT returns are due. To calculate this revenue, all outgoing invoices are taken into account, including exempt and zero-rated supplies. All incoming invoices should be disregarded.
Annual VAT returns are not possible for small enterprises. We are referring to Annual VAT returns, which are different from the Annual Summary VAT returns.
Frequency of filing
MonthlyAnnual revenue above 6M€ or registration in the Monthly Refund Scheme
QuarterlyStandard reporting period
Due date and frequency of Spanish ESPL returns
ESPL returns are filed on a quarterly basis unless the (rather low) threshold is exceeded. These returns are due by the 20th day of month together with the VAT return (there is a holiday extension for the December and Q4 returns).
Frequency of filing rules
MonthlyThe total amount of ICS of goods or services exceeds 50k € in the current or any of the previous four quarters
QuarterlyStandard reporting period
Bi-monthly (only once)The 50k€ threshold is exceeded in the second month of the quarter. The option "declaracion truncada" should be ticked
AnnuallyThe total amount of domestic sales in the year is below 35k€ and the total amount of ICS of goods and services in the year is below 15k
The acquisitions are not taken into account when calculating the thresholds for the frequency of filing Spanish ESPL returns.
Due date rules
Monthly20th day of the month following the reporting period
Quarterly20th day of the month following the reporting period
Bi-monthly (only once)20th day of the month following the reporting period
Annually20th day of the month following the reporting period
Holiday extensionThe December and Q4 ESPL return can be filed by the 30th January of the following year
If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday, the date is shifted to the next working day.
The Spanish authorities publish a calendar (in English) with all tax due dates. This calendar includes the changes due to bank holidays.
Spanish VAT payments
All payments in Spain need to be done from a Spanish bank account. It is not possible to pay your VAT from a foreign account. These payments must be done from one of the authorized banks in Spain (most retail banks are included). The list of authorised banks is published by the tax authorities.
When requesting the payment, you must provide the VAT number, name, period, form submitted, and amount paid to the bank. Once the payment is made, the bank will issue the so called "NRC code" which you need to enter in the VAT return before submitting it. This is, it is not possible to submit Spanish returns without having made the corresponding VAT payment.
The bank account can be on the name of any other person. Only in case the payment is made through the website of the Spanish tax authorities, the bank account must be on the name of the tax payer or its fiscal representative.
All bank charges should be borne by the taxpayer.
There is no need to provide a bank account number when requesting the payment. The Spanish bank will make the payment to the tax authorities according to their standard process for these payments.
Spanish VAT refunds
When a 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). Only those businesses registered in the Monthly Refund Scheme (so called REDEME) can request monthly VAT refunds. This scheme requires a number of additional compliance obligations.
At the bottom of the VAT return, there are sections that can be ticked to determine whether the VAT return is on a payable position ("a ingresar") or, in case the return is on a repayable position, VAT should be carried forward to the next period ("a compensar") repaid to the taxpayer ("solicitar devolucion"). In case of repayment, Spanish VAT refunds can be received in a foreign SEPA bank account. The IBAN number of this account must be included at the bottom of the VAT return form.
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 refunded.
Audits are not always carried when requesting a refund, however, these happen often for material amounts or significant changes in the VAT position."
Spanish nil and corrective VAT returns
A nil VAT return needs to be submitted even if there are no transactions to be reported for that period. The option "Sin actividad" needs to be ticked.
Regarding corrections, a corrective VAT return must be filed whenever the VAT position changes. The following scenarios can happen:
- Additional output VAT or less input VAT (VAT position increased): A new return replacing all data of the previous return needs to be submitted. The box "Declaración complementaria" should be ticked and the reference number of the initial return should be entered. Payment of the additional VAT should be made by the usual process. The authorities will charge penalties on the VAT paid late. See below section on Late payment penalties (link to section). The form applicable at the time of the period corrected should be used.
- All other corrections (including: Additional input VAT; less output VAT or no changes to the VAT position): A letter needs to be sent to the Spanish tax authorities informing about the change. The authorities should refund the amount within the six months following the submission of the letter, which can be sent electronically through the website of the authorities.
Corrective VAT returns are submitted electronically. The process is the same as the usual returns, but the box ‘Declaracion complementaria’ should be ticked.
VAT penalties in Spain
Penalties are applied as a % of the VAT due (so called ‘recharges’):
- 5% of the VAT due if paid between before 3 months after the due date
- 10% if paid between 3 and 6 months after the due date
- 15% if paid between 6 and 12 months after the due date
- 20% if paid after 12 months after the due date
On top of this, interest must be paid when on VAT payments made 12 months after the due date (i.e. when 20% recharges were paid):
- The applicable late payment interest in the relevant year is charged (usually from 2% to 5%).
Late registrationNormally, no penalties for late registration. Penalties are charged as part of the regularization of the VAT returns.
If paid within the deadline provided in the letter where the penalties are stated, the amounts are reduced by 25%.
Additional penalties may be charged by the authorities, particularly where the corrections are triggered by an investigation or VAT audit.
For penalties on ECSL, Intrastat and other returns, please see the relevant section.
Spanish distance Sales. VAT on e-commerce
You can find information about the general EU VAT regime on distance sales in our article about VAT on e-commerce.
These are some of the rules applicable in Spain regarding this regime:
- The distance sales threshold is 35,000 €. Where the total amounts of sales to Spanish customers in any 12-month period exceeds this threshold, a registration is required.
- Foreign companies may opt to register in Spain before the threshold is exceeded. Spanish companies may opt to register abroad if the destination threshold is not exceeded, this option is mandatory for 2 years once the application is sent.
- When a foreign e-commerce business registers in Spain, a compliant VAT invoice must be issued for each Spanish client. It is however allowed to issue a ‘simplified invoice’, which requires fewer details.
- Intrastat returns are due when the Intrastat threshold is exceeded.
- VAT returns must report the sales as domestic sales only. Distance sales are not reported as intra-Community acquisitions followed by local sales.
- If goods are returned by the client, an intra-Community supply is not reported in Spain.
- An ECSPL return (form 349) is never due on distance sales.
Spanish tax authorities contact
Unlike other EU countries, Spain does not have a non-established taxable persons unit. Foreign companies are registered at the tax office of their fiscal representative or the office where they have a permanent establishment.
When replying to a request from the authorities, it is recommended to send the response to the office and address stated in the letter. However, according to Spanish administrative rules, these documents can be submitted in any tax administration.
The following tax office is often used for being one of the largest of Spain and being located in Madrid:
Agencia Estatal de la Administración Tributaria
Delegación de Hacienda
Calle de Guzmán el Bueno, 139
Telephone: +34 915 826 1 78
There is telephone number for general enquiries about VAT and other tax related issues. Information is only given in Spanish and for general purposes (we recommend not to rely on this information only): +34 901 335 533