Have your clients paid high Inheritance or Gift taxes in Spain in the past?

Gunnercooke

Pursuant to the European Court of Justice´s decision of the 3/9/2014 they could be entitled to ask for a refund

The Spanish inheritance and gift tax is a national tax but the Spanish Government transferred it to the regional bodies (autonomous communities), who have autonomy to legislate and collect the tax. The autonomous communities have legislated a number of tax benefits that are applicable to taxpayers, resident in their regions.

The key point is that most of the Autonomous Regions have introduced tax benefits to their residents, i.e. in the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza or Menorca) the inheritance transfers between immediate family members, if they are residents, are taxed with a maximum of 1% in most estates.

The problem is when we are talking about non-Spanish residents because the tax is not transferred to the regional bodies and the state rules apply without the said benefits. This implied that in the past a person who was not resident in Spain was paying a higher Inheritance tax than a person who was resident in that country. This was clearly a discrimination within the EU and many groups of affected individuals and professionals complained before the EU Courts.

In 2007 the European Commission sent a warning to Spain about a potential incompatibility between the Spanish inheritance and gift tax rules with Articles 21 and 63 of the TFEU and Articles 28 and 40 of the EEA. The Commission formally requested Spain on the 5th May 2010 and 17th February 2011 to take action to ensure compliance with EU rules. As Spain failed to take action, the Commission decided to take Spain to the CJEU and the European Court of Justice declared in its Decision dated 3th of September 2014 that this legislation breached the free movement of capital and it was contrary to the European laws. Spain was therefore forced to amend its legislation in that way.

Knowing that at present the inheritance or gifts between non-Spanish residents have the same benefits that residents have, the key questions are:

What about the taxes already paid by non-Spanish residents before that European Decision? Can we claim a refund for the excessive taxes?

The effects of the CJEU Decision 3/9/14 are not temporary limited and therefore if your clients have paid the inheritance or gift tax in Spain as a non-resident they should be able to claim for the reimbursement of the excess paid.

We would recommend contacting a Spanish Lawyer to review the Inheritance or Gift taxes already paid by your clients in Spain before 2014, and more importantly, if your clients are going to pay taxes in the following months, a Spanish Lawyer will also help them to decide the best way to minimise taxes, without the need to appeal for a refund.

On the other hand, we would also recommend your clients when buying in Spain, to consider the different tax rates and take into account the different regions and their tax rule, before deciding where to buy. We all know that laws can change, but why do not take this into account if it can help clients to save some money?

Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen

Spanish lawyers at gunnercookellp

1 Cornhill London EC3V 3ND 53 King Street Manchester M2 4LQ

 

E-mail: claudia.font@gunnercooke.com       E-mail: antonio.guillen@gunnercooke.com

D: 07788585115                                                  D: 07872808598

 

 

A quick guide on buying property in Spain for UK solicitors

Beach huts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a client looking to buy property in Spain?

How can you help him/her from the UK?

 It is quite likely that you will have one or two clients looking for a property in Spain. The uncertainty of Brexit and the temporary weakness of the Sterling pound has not stop British buyers from their dream of buying a home in Sunny Spain. It is true that they are not buying as much as they did before the recession but they are still buying second homes and looking for a place to retire or a place to spend family holidays.

Very often, clients will contact their trusted advisors to see if they can give them some guidance or recommend a lawyer able to deal with the purchase of the property in Spain. Obviously, you cannot be expected to be versed on Spanish law and the normal thing is to recommend the client to look for a Spanish lawyer or to recommend one, if you have come across a firm in the past and you were happy with the service provided. Having said that, knowledge is never a burden and therefore see below a few tips on what should and what should not be done when buying property in Spain which will prove of help if you are approached by one of your clients asking for advice:

1) Help your client to make an accurate budget.

Apart from the price of the property your client should consider other costs involved in the transaction:

– Taxes, Notary and Land Registry: Approximately 10%-12%.

– Spanish Lawyer fees*

– Surveyor**

* althoughnot mandatory (because the Spanish Notary usually carries out the main checks on the title and charges), we would always recommend instructing a Spanish lawyer who can collaborate with you when your client is buying in Spain. He will carry on a full due diligence on the property and draft the necessary contract. The Notary Public will not do the above.

** we would recommend to have one when your client is buying a resale property in order to be 100% sure about what yourclient is going to buy.

2) Inform your client that he/she should save a 30%-40% deposit plus 10%-12% for the Notary, taxes and Land Registry fees.

Nowadays, most of Spanish banks are not offering mortgages which exceed 70% of the appraised value of the property. Your client will need to ensure that he/she has enough deposit to complete on the purchase, usually around 30%-40%.

3) Your client should have a clear idea of what he is planning to buy before committing to a purchase

Spain has different regions with big differences between them in terms of weather, lifestyle, tourism, etc and most importantly, in terms of price. We would recommend your clients to visit the place in winter so they can get an idea of the way of life outside the tourist season.

Once they decide where they want to buy, the second step is to consider the different types of properties they can buy, i.e. brand new, old property, off-plan property, urban or rustic land, and obtain legal advice to ensure they are fully advised on all aspects of being the ownerof a property in Spain.

4) Encourage your client to check different options of mortgages.

Make sure your client fully understands the conditions of the mortgage offer. We would recommend to have the draft mortgage deed reviewed by a Spanish lawyer in order to ensure that it does not contain abusive clauses. In our recent article about Spanish mortgages we talked about some abusive clauses that some Spanish lenders have been including in their mortgages in recent years and that should be avoided when getting a Spanish mortgage.

Look for the mortgage which is most appropriate for your client´s income and financials. There is a range of mortgages on offer and yourclient should pay special attention to the interest rate, repayment period, fees for setting up the mortgage as well as early repayment and cancellation fees.

 5) Advise your client to reserve the property and sign a purchase agreement or “contrato de arras”.

If yourclient finally finds “the” property, he/she will have to reserve it while you and your Spanish lawyer will be collaborating and dealing with all the checks that the transaction requires to ensure that they are buying safely. Your client will need to pay a reservation fee of around 3000 Euro which will take the property out of the market. Then, once all the checks have been done, and the documentation has been reviewed, he/she will be asked to pay a deposit of around 10% with the signing of the purchase agreement (contrato de arras) and the rest will be due on completion.

Signing an “arras” contract means that both parties have the right to withdraw:

If your client decides not to proceed with the transaction he/she will lose the deposit, but if it is the seller who withdraws, or if the property has been misrepresented, yourclient will be entitled to claim double of the deposit: his 10% plus another 10% compensation.

6) Consider engaging a surveyor.

Your client may consider that the property needs to be surveyed by a professional with appropriate experience and qualifications. That is very sensible thing to do, but your client will find that some Spanish estate agents will discourage this. If that is the case, the client needs to follow his/her own instincts and still instruct his/her own surveyor.

7) Check the annual expenses of owning a property in Spain.

Be certain of the likely annual expenses your client will incur, including service charges, property tax (IBI), non-residents income tax, wealth tax if applicable, electricity, water, gas, etc.

8) Instruct an independent Spanish lawyer to collaborate with you.

All of the above-mentioned advice can became a terrible bureaucratic fight if yourclient does not engage the expertise and help of an independent Spanish lawyer.

A Spanish lawyer will guide you or your client through the entire process, avoiding extra costs and, what is more important, ensuring that the property your client is going to buy has all it needs to be transferred into his/her name: no charges, no development plans affecting it, etc.

You can instruct a Spanish Lawyer based in Spain or in the UK. Please note that there are several UK law firms with an in house Spanish lawyer able to provide legal advice without your client having to go to Spain.

 9) Warn your client not to declare a lower value than the actual purchase price.

In the past it was quite common to declare a low value for the property in order to minimize the transfer tax payable by the buyer and the CGT payable by the seller. Nowadays, the Spanish treasury will prosecute anyone who declares a price lower than the one effectively paid. The wrongdoer will be fined and additional interest will be applied. On the other hand, when your client decides to sell the property, he/she will be liable to pay Spanish capital gains tax on any profit made and he/she will be liable for CGT on a much larger (but not real) profit.

 10) Recommend your client to make a Spanish Will.

We would recommend your clients to sign a Spanish Will when acquiring a property in Spain. This in order to avoid potential problems in the future for their relatives and beneficiaries. It is not compulsory but in our own experience, really advisable.

Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen

Spanish Desk

Gunnercooke LLP

www.gunnercooke.com

 

London   Manchester

Do´s and don´t when buying property in Spain

dos-and-donts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do’s & don’ts when buying in Spain.

DO’S.

  • Make your budget.

Apart from the price of the property you should consider other costs related to the transaction such as follows:

  • Taxes, Notary and Land Registry: You should consider 10%-12%.
  • Spanish Lawyer fees*
  • Surveyor** although it is not mandatory to ask for a survey, we would recommend to have one in order to be 100% sure about what you are buying.
  • Real Estate Agency fees: if you are using a real estate agency for the search they will charge a percentage of the price, depending on the region although the norm is that this is paid by the seller.
  • * although it is not mandatory to instruct a lawyer when buying in Spain, because the Notary carry out the main checks (charges etc) we strongly recommend you to instruct one to ensure that your interests and investment are properly protected.
  • Ensure you have 30% for the mortgage deposit plus 10% for the Notary, taxes and Land Registry fees.

Nowadays, most of the banks are not offering mortgages which exceed 70% of the price, so you will need to ensure you are able to pay a deposit of 30%, as well as paying the costs.

  • Decide what and where you want to buy.

Spain has different regions with big differences between them in terms of weather, lifestyle, tourism, etc and most importantly, in terms of price. We would recommend that you visit in winter so that you can get an idea of the way of life outside tourist season.

Once you decide where you are going to buy, you should consider the different types of properties you can buy, i.e. brand new, old property, off-plan property, urban or rustic land, and obtain legal advice to ensure you are fully advised on all aspects of being a new owner.

  • Check different options of mortgages.

Make sure you fully understand the mortgage agreement you are going to sign. We would recommend to ask for the mortgage deed to be reviewed by a lawyer in order to ensure it does not contains abusive clauses.

Look for the mortgage which is most appropriate for your capabilities and needs. There are a range of mortgages on offer and you should pay special attention to the interest rate and repayment period, fees for setting up the mortgage as well as early repayment and cancellation fees.

  • Reserve the property and sign a “contrato de arras”.

If you find “the” property, you will have to reserve it while your lawyers are dealing with all the checks that the transaction needs to ensure that you are buying safely. You will need to pay a reservation fee of around 3000 Euro which will take the property out of the market. Then, once your lawyer is happy with the legal documentation, you will be asked to pay a deposit of around 10% with the signing of the purchase agreement (contrato de arras) and the rest will be due on completion.

Signing an “arras” contract means that both parties have the right to withdraw:

If you decide not to proceed with the transaction you will lose the deposit, but if it is the seller who withdraws, or if the property has been misrepresented, you will be entitled to claim for double of the deposit.

  • Consider engaging a surveyor.

You may consider that the property needs to be surveyed by a professional with appropriate experience and qualifications. That is very sensible, but you will find that some Spanish estate agents will discourage this.

  • Find out about the annual expenses of owning a property in Spain.

Be certain of the likely annual expenses you will incur, including service charges, property tax (IBI), non-residents income tax, wealth tax if applicable, electricity, water, gas, etc.

  • Hire a Spanish lawyer.

All of the above-mentioned advice can became a terrible bureaucratic fight if you do not engage the expertise and help of an independent Spanish lawyer.

A Spanish lawyer will guide you through the entire process, avoiding extra costs and which is more important, ensuring that the property you are going to buy, has all it needs to be transferred (no charges), no development plans affecting it, etc.

You can use a Spanish Lawyer based in Spain or in the UK. Please note that there are several UK law firms with an in house Spanish lawyer able to provide legal advice without you having to go to Spain.

  • Make a Spanish Will.

We would recommend to sign a Spanish Will when acquiring a property in Spain.

DON’TS.

  • Do not be forced by the bank to get their insurance or other bank products.
  • Do not sign any document if you do not understand them.
  • Do not pay more than what was agreed.
  • Do not sign any document without a Spanish lawyer.
  • Do not buy a property without taking legal advice.
  • Do not pay large amounts of money to developers who do not offer you the security of a Bank Guarantee for these payments.
  • Do not be tempted to declare a lower property value than the actual purchase price.

In the past it was quite common to declare a low value for the property in order to minimize the transfer tax. Nowadays, the Spanish treasury will prosecute anyone who declares a lower price. The wrongdoer will be punished and additional interest will be applied. On the other hand, when you decide to sell this property, you will be liable for Spanish capital gains tax on any profit made and, you will be liable for tax on a much larger profit when you sell later. The safest way is to ask at the payment office of the nearest tax agency and they will give you the exact value of a particular property.

By Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen

Tell me more about Gunnercooke!

http://http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/business-club-video/legal-sector-videos/12213217/gunnercooke.html

What is Gunnercooke? Very often I get asked this question by clients and contacts. They have heard that we are a diffent law firm to the standard, traditional and rigid law firms. However they do not know what makes the difference between us and other law firms.

See above an interesting video made by The Telegraph on our law firm Gunnercooke LLP which explains the ethos of the firm. It summarises quite well who we are, what we do and what we are aiming to achieve. You will note that our priority is client service. We believe that by focusing on clients, the rest (the financials, the success, the reputation) will follow eventually.

Interestingly, Gunnercooke LLP celebrated its annual symposium last week in Oxford where around 100 plus lawyers gathered to talk about the trajectory of the firm and listened to excellent speakers who talked about various subjects from business development to client quality service and even how to be happy! It was a good opportunity for lawyers from different departments to talk about what they are doing and the future of the legal profession.

oxford-college

It was also positive for us, the Spanish lawyers at Gunnercooke, to discuss burning subjects of today with other lawyers such as Brexit, the economy and how this could affect our clients and their interest in Spain.

A wonderful and enriching experience that we are eager to repeat next year. Specially in such a historic (and magical!) place as the Oxford College!!

 

 

 

 

 

Antonio Guillén and Claudia Font, Spanish lawyers at Gunnercooke LLP, at the annual Gala at the Oxford College.

People walk over Westminster Bridge wrapped in Union flags, towards the Queen Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and The Houses of Parliament in central London on June 26, 2016. Britain's opposition Labour party plunged into turmoil Sunday and the prospect of Scottish independence drew closer, ahead of a showdown with EU leaders over the country's seismic vote to leave the bloc. Two days after Prime Minister David Cameron resigned over his failure to keep Britain in the European Union, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced a revolt by his lawmakers who called for him, too, to quit. / AFP / Odd ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

BREXIT AND SPAIN: TWO MONTHS LATER

WHAT WOULD AN EVENTUAL BREXIT MEAN FOR THOSE BRITISH THAT WANT TO BUY PROPERTY IN SPAIN?

How would it affect British people who own properties in Spain? And those who are in the process of buying them?

It is too early to know what is going to happen but the more immediate effect is the depreciation of the sterling pound. If you already own property in Spain then no need to panic and as the old saying states: Keep calm and carry on!

If you are planning to buy a property in Spain or have fallen in love with a specific villa and do not want to wait until there is more certainty about the future of the UK in the European Union, you can compensate the depreciation of the sterling pound with some measures. Below you will see some examples:

  1. You could offer to pay the purchase price in Sterling pound. This may prove interesting for the seller, especially if it is a British seller (something not that unusual these days). By doing this you will not be exposed to the depreciation of the pound and you will not pay a higher price for the property in Spain.
  2. If the above is not possible, you should then use a foreign currency broker who will be able to buy the Euro for a more favourable rate than the one offered by your High Street bank. Unless you are a High Net Worth Individual who has the privilege of having a bank account with a private bank, in which case you may get a similar rate to the one offered by a Foreign Currency broker.
  3. Finally, the economy in Spain and in the UK are not that stable. Use this point to negotiate a reduction in the price. In spite of an increase in property demand in certain areas of Spain, the property market is still far from recovered and the current economic and political uncertainty could help to get a substantial reduction in the price that could compensate the money that you may lose with the depreciation of the sterling pound.

These are just a few recommendations. Obviously, don´t forget to instruct an independent lawyer for your purchase. Whether is Antonio Guillen and Claudia Font at Gunnercooke LLP (or another lawyer) do not make the mistake of using a lawyer recommended by an estate agent or the seller because that could lead to a conflict of interest and eventually to a problem.

 

 

3rd Edition of Spanish Festival

FESTEJAR 2016

Festejar 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From left to right: Virginia Moreno, Claudia Font, Jesus Torre, Mariluz Simal, Antonio Guillén and Angel Miguelez.

The Spanish Desk from Gunnercooke attended last night the opening of the FESTEJAR festival in Manchester. It is the third edition of a Spanish festival in which, for four days (from the 1st the the 4th of September), visitors will be able to enjoy live music, food and drinks with the greatest “Iberian” atmosphere.

The festival brands itself as one with a “Spanish soul with a Manchester heart”, and we could not agree more.

As Antonio Guillen, Honorary Consul for Spain in Manchester, stated, he “really enjoyed the two previous editions of the festival, where Spanish food, music and drinks took over Albert’s square in a very civilised, tolerant and vibrant event”.

The festival gives us all the opportunity to check the good relations that exist between British and Spanish people, in such an international city as Manchester.

Giving the atmosphere that surrounded the opening last night, there is no doubt that the third edition is going to be probably even better than the two previous ones.

If possible, clear your schedule for this weekend and join us at FESTEJAR!

Spanish theme restaurant Tapeo opens in Manchester

Tapeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spanish desk from Gunnercooke LLP attended last night the soft opening of Tapeo Restaurant in Manchester.

Tapeo is the latest Spanish Restaurant to be opened in the busiest area of Manchester City Centre. Fully owned by Spanish owners and managed by couple Nacho Garcia and Natalia Esquerdo, the restaurant has a very high chance of becoming the new place to go for Spanish food in Manchester.

From a legal and business point of view, it is very inspiring to see Spanish theme businesses opening in the City Centre. Tapeo follows the opening of recent Spanish theme restaurants such as La Bandera, Iberica, Lunya and El Gato Negro. Having such a wide variety of Spanish food in town (and with the recent sunnier weather) who longer needs to go to Spain for authentic Spanish food?

See below press release from Manchester Evening News.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/tapeo-manchester-spanish-restaurant-deansgate-11320977

Gunnercooke’s Spanish desk grows with another Spanish lawyer

Gunnercooke

 

 

 

 

 

I am glad to inform that Claudia Font has joined our law firm Gunnercooke LLP to form part of the Spanish desk. Claudia is qualified in Spanish law and is registered to practice in both Spain and England. She is originally from Barcelona and will be based in the North West of England helping to consolidate what is probably the largest Spanish desk in the North of England. Myself and Claudia will also travel regularly to London to meet clients in the capital and provide services to UK clients both in the North and the South.

For further information on the team see below.

Gunnercooke LLP                                                   

SPANISH DESK

SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS

About Gunnercooke LLP

We are a full service legal firm, and our model is very simple:

  • We comprise solely senior lawyers – every lawyer has minimum 10,000 hours practising experience, and our clients not only benefit from the expertise this brings, but also from the authority it commands
  • We provide certainty and transparency over the cost of our services, providing fixed fee quotes that will never change
  • 95% of our lawyers have spent time in-house or in business, developing a commercial edge to their legal advice

Spanish legal services for individuals

 Gunnercooke LLP is probably the only law firm in the North of England with two qualified Spanish lawyers able to advise individuals in respect of their assets and investments in Spain.

The Spanish desk at Gunnercooke LLP is formed by Antonio Guillen and Claudia Font. Both of them are qualified to practice Spanish law and duly registered with the Law Society of Barcelona, Spain as well as the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales.

Antonio and Claudia are primarily based in the North West but have clients from all around the UK and can therefore advise UK clients regardless of their location. They also hold regular meetings with clients in the South through our London office.

The Spanish legal services provided by the Spanish desk are the following:

  • Sale and purchase of residential properties
  • Will drafting and estate planning
  • Administration of estates
  • Powers of attorney
  • Property disputes and litigation
  • Mortgages
  • Debt negotiation and Insolvency
  • N.I.E. numbers

About the team      

Antonio Guillen
Antonio Guillen

                                                            

 Antonio Guillen is a dual qualified Spanish lawyer and English solicitor specialized in Spanish civil law, in particular property and probate matters in connection to assets in Spain. He gives regular lectures on Spanish law to UK solicitors, STEP practitioners and Notary Publics and is known as a point of reference for cross border probate matters between UK and Spain. Antonio is also the Honorary Consul for Spain in Manchester and helps the Spanish Consulate and Embassy with certain delegated tasks in respect of Spanish nationals living in the UK.

Claudia Font
Claudia Font

Claudia Font is qualified in Spain, member of the Barcelona Law Society and also authorized by the SRA to practice in England and Wales (Registered European Lawyer) with over 13 years of professional experience. She specializes in civil law (property, family, litigation and corporate law, in connection to matters of Spanish law). She is well experienced with the process of transferring Spanish assets after divorce proceedings with the British and international clients, as well as property and litigation.

Gunnercooke LLP

 

1 Cornhill London EC3V 3ND 53 King Street Manchester M2 4LQ

T: 03330 143 401 www.gunnercooke.com