Question for written answer E-002563/2019
to the Commission
Frances Fitzgerald (PPE)
Subject: Spanish levy on property owned by non-residents
I have been informed that there is a Spanish levy that is imposed only on non-resident foreigners who own property in Spain, regardless of whether they are EU citizens or not.
Can the Commission state whether such a levy is legal in the context of the EU single market? Should EU citizens not all be treated equally when owning or renting a property anywhere in the EU, regardless of their nationality?
Is this type of levy commonplace in the EU?
Answer given by Mr Moscovici
on behalf of the European Commission
In Spain, unlisted entities, which are tax resident in a territory qualified as “tax haven”, are subject to a special tax (“Gravamen Especial sobre Bienes Inmuebles de Entidades No Residentes” – GEBI) of 3 % on the cadastral value of the immovable property they own in Spain. This special tax applies if they do not perform an economic activity different from the mere owning or letting immovable property. Spanish law considers as “tax haven” a jurisdiction with whom they do not have legal instruments to exchange information for tax purposes. Spanish law establishes the qualification as “tax haven” essentially on the basis of the inexistence of an effective bilateral clause on exchange of information between Spain and the respective country or territory. To date, within the EU, only entities established in Gibraltar remain subject to the GEBI. Besides this tax, Spain does not charge any other levy on EU citizens who are not residents in Spain different from those charged on its resident taxpayers.
The Court of Justice of the EU considered a similar special levy on immovable property in relation to non-resident taxpayers in France. The Court held that such a levy is a justified restriction to the free movement of capital only in the absence of instruments of administrative cooperation that allow tax authorities to have access to relevant tax information of the non-resident taxpayer.
 Judgment of 28 October 2010, Rimbaud, C-72/09, EU:C:2010:645.