Autónomo Tax Obligations: Returns and Deadlines

All autónomos are required to file quarterly and annual income tax returns. This guide will outline the filing obligations and deadlines in Spain.

Modelo 130 – Quarterly income tax returns
This form is used to declare the total income and deductible expenditure every quarter. If positive, autónomos must make a payment on account toward their final tax bill. The filing dates for positive returns with tax payment by direct debit from the autonomo’s Spanish bank account are from 1st to 15th April, July and October and 1st to 25th of January. The filing dates for negative returns are from 1st to 20th April, July and October and 1st to 30th of January.

Modelo 100 – Annual income tax return ‘Renta’
The Spanish tax year ends on the 31st of December, and all autónomos are required to declare all their Spanish and worldwide income by the 30th of June. The payments on account made quarterly will contribute to the final tax bill calculated on this return. Any amounts overpaid can be refunded, or if any additional tax is due, this must be paid as a top-up.

Modelo 303 and 390 – Quarterly and Annual VAT returns
Autónomos must declare their VAT (called IVA in Spain) balance and pay amounts due on a quarterly basis. Nil VAT returns should be filed if there is no trading activity.

The filing deadlines for the quarterly returns, Modelo 303 are similar to those for Modelo 130.

If the quarterly return results in a negative balance, it can be carried forward, and any refunds can be applied for at the end of the year. Instead of a refund, the autonomo can elect to carry forward their IVA credit and set it off against future IVA due. This is particularly recommended when VATable sales in Spain are expected to increase and one should bear in mind then if an IVA refund is claimed, the autónomo should be prepared for a Tax Office (Agencia Tributaria or colloquially ¨Hacienda¨ inspection) and have copies of all sales and purchase invoices during the year saved.

Other tax returns (Retentions)

Modelo 111 and 190 – Quarterly retentions and annual summary
These forms may need to be filed if autónomos have received an invoice, normally from a professional such as a Notary, which includes a tax retention.

Modelo 115 and 180 – Quarterly rent retentions and annual summary These returns must be submitted if the self-employed individual is renting an office and their landlord is invoicing them with a tax retention.

If you would like us to prepare any of the tax returns listed above, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

Spanish VAT for foreign companies

Foreign companies wishing to offer their services or goods here in Spain are generally required to register for Spanish VAT here: known as IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido).

Note that there is no registration threshold in Spain and you must register prior to starting your business activity.

This article covers:

  1. How do I register for VAT in Spain as a foreign company? What documentation is required?
  2. How long does it take to get a Spanish VAT number?
  3. How often do I need to file a Spanish VAT return? What are the deadlines?
  4. How do I pay VAT in Spain? 
  5. What if I don’t have a Spanish bank account?
  6. What is the VAT rate in Spain?
  7. I need an intra-community VAT number.

The VAT registration process is relatively straightforward. On presentation of all of the required documents at a local tax office in Spain, your company’s Spanish tax/ VAT number is issued immediately.

1. How do I register for VAT in Spain as a foreign company? What documentation is required?

We offer a VAT registration service to obtain a non-resident Spanish VAT code (NIF) for you. This involves registering the company with the Spanish Tax Office.

You will need the following:

A certificate produced by the Company Registry in the country where your company was incorporated.  This must state your company’s registered address and the current directors of the company.

A Power of Attorney document –  the draft provided by us, to be signed by your company director before a Notary. This allows us to obtain your Spanish tax code on your behalf and be the tax representatives of your company in Spain.

All documents should be legalised in your country with the Hague Apostille and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator.

We will provide the Power of Attorney documents in both Spanish and English so in the event that you can find a local Spanish-speaking Notary, there will be no translation necessary for these.

We can also provide a sworn Spanish translation service at this end for a reasonable charge. We offer this service for several source languages including English and French.

2. How long does it take to get a Spanish VAT number?

On receipt of the above documentation from you, we will normally obtain your Spanish tax number within 5-7 working days.

3. How often do I need to file a Spanish VAT return? What are the deadlines?

Autonomos and Spanish businesses registered for VAT will need to submit tax returns on a quarterly basis. However, if the business’ total sales in the previous financial year was over 6 million Euros then it is compulsory to submit monthly VAT returns.

A Modelo 303 form should be submitted by the 15th of the following month after the quarter period for positive returns, and by the 20th for negative/zero returns.

For Q4 VAT returns, these shoul be submitted by January 25th of the following year for positive returns, and January 30th for negative returns.

All VAT registered businesses will also have to complete Annual VAT returns – Modelo 390.

4. How do I pay VAT in Spain?

The Spanish tax office will only accept payments from Spanish bank accounts. There are two main methods to pay the tax due:

1. By providing the IBAN of your Spanish bank account – this is the simplest way to pay your tax due as the Tax Office will charge your bank account on the due date.

It is important that you leave at least 5 days before the deadline for the payment to process, and to have enough funds in the account to meet the payment; insufficient funds will mean the tax remains unpaid and possible penalty fees.

2. Alternatively, you can pay the tax due through your Spanish bank and obtain an NRC code (Número de Referencia Completo). This code is important as it acts as reference, linking your payment to the tax return.

Most Spanish online banking systems will allow you to pay tax this way. Once you receive the code, you can then supply this to us instead of your Spanish IBAN, and we will file your return online using our digital certificate.

5. What if I don’t have a Spanish bank account?

If you are a foreign company registered for VAT and do not have a Spanish bank account, we can pay the VAT due on your behalf at an additional service charge.

We will invoice you for the tax due prior to filing your return. Therefore you must make the full payment to us before the deadline so that we can pay the tax due on your behalf.

6. What is the VAT rate in Spain?

Standard rate: 21%

Reduced rates: 10% and 4%

Read more on rates and allowances here.

7. I need an intra-community VAT number

In Spain, this is a separate registration process and you will need to submit a Modelo 036 application online.

Your VAT number will need to be validated on the VIES system – the official database for checking the validity of VAT numbers issued by EU member states.

For online traders, such as those who sell goods on Amazon, registering on the VIES may be required in order to have full functionality of your seller account.

Our services

VAT Registration

Our current charge for the VAT registration of your company is 500 Euros.

This includes the following:

  • Drawing up the draft Power of Attorney and tax representation documents;
  • Obtaining a tax code (NIF) for your company;
  • Registering your company’s business activity with the Spanish Tax Office (Form 036).

VAT Tax Returns

We can submit the Modelo 303 tax return on your behalf. Our current charge per quarter is 160 Euros, on the basis that you send us your VAT data quarterly in spreadsheet format. As part of our service we will work together with you to optimise a format to present this data.

VIES Registration

We can help you submit the Modelo 036 form to register your business on the VIES. Please contact us for more details.

Make an enquiry

If you are interested in any of our services or require further information, please send us an enquiry here and we will be happy to assist.

Amazon Sellers: Activating your Spanish VAT number as an intra-community operator

You may have received this notification to get your Spanish VAT number registered on the VIES by Amazon:

“Your Amazon seller account contains a local VAT registration number(s) that is not validated or listed in the VAT Information Exchange System of the EU commission ([VIES]).”

Although you have already registered for a Spanish VAT number, Amazon may require your VAT number to be validated on the VIES (VAT Information Exchange system) in order for your Amazon account to have full functionality.

All non-activated intra-community VAT registration numbers will fail Amazon’s validation check.

How do I validate my Spanish VAT number?

This is a separate registration process and you will need to submit a Modelo 036 application online. This form can be submitted by those who have a digital certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Office.

Unfortunately approval times may be very slow and we are experiencing six months or more for processing.


Need our assistance?

We can help you submit the Modelo 036 form to register your business on the VIES. Please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

VIES registration in Spain- finally good news !

After our previous gloomy posts on the difficulty in getting Spanish registered businesses onto the EU Intracommunity VAT register (VIES), we have some good news !

Recent clients for whom we have requested VIES registration have been approved very quickly- within a month at the most. This includes both foreign companies with no permanent establishment in Spain, and Spanish-resident self-employed workers (autonomos). With these clients, no physical office inspection or letter of enquiry was issued which was the case previously.

It looks like finally the Agencia Tributaria, the Spanish tax authorities, have started to think logically ! It´s a rare case in recent years of them moving a step forwards rather than backwards.

For further details and assistance please visit our website spainaccountants.com or contact us by e-mail at returns@spainaccountants.com .

Spanish businesses registering on the VIES

A couple of years ago, in an article on this blog , we addressed the problems that Spanish businesses face when trying to register on the EU VAT database (VIES). Sadly, nothing has improved to date.

To recap, a business that registers for VAT in Spain is not automatically registered on the VIES, as is the procedure in other EU countries. The Spanish Tax Office insists on a separate application being made and the taxpayer being subject to an inspection before approval is given. Often a Tax Office inspector will turn up at the registered address of the business without notice, and if there is no-one there (quite possible for a work-from-home sole-trader) then the approval process will be put on ice, delayed for months, or be rejected.

We ask ourselves, what is the reasoning behind this extra layer of bureaucracy from the Spanish authorities ? We can only think that it is some misplaced attempt to prevent VAT fraud, and to check that the business is a bona fide one before allowing it on the EU VAT database.  Although other more enlightened and streamlined administrations such as the UK and France do not have such a procedure- in these countries, as soon as the business has a local VAT number, it is added to the VIES.

The damage done to the competitiveness of Spanish businesses is significant.  If a Spanish business purchases goods or services from a supplier in another EU country, the supplier will often do a check on the VIES database and if their client does not appear then they may insist on charging local VAT. Due to the difficulties and further bureaucracy of claiming foreign VAT back via the Spanish Tax authorities, this VAT may never be recovered and represent an extra cost for the Spanish business. Especially in markets where margins are narrow, this extra expense could make the difference between success and failure.

So once again we say to the Spanish authorities: cut the bureaucracy and add new businesses to the VIES as soon as they register for VAT !

For further information and details on our services, please visit our Spain Accountants website.