Expats fear savings grab after Spain asset declaration deadline

Published:  2 May at 6 PM
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Now that the deadline for overseas residents in Spain to declare their assets has passed, many expats fear a Cyprus-style savings grab will result.

The new Spanish tax rules affect an estimated 200,000 Britons with homes and businesses in Spain, many of whom are desperate to leave as rumours of a savings grab continue to circulate. With the Spanish unemployment rate at 26 per cent and property prices still falling, the country’s economy appears to be teetering on the brink.

Expat residents have been forced to declare all overseas assets, investments and savings over €50,000, including the value of property owned abroad. Opponents of the scheme, including members of the Spanish parliament, are calling the new law discriminatory amid fears of a mass exodus of expats from popular retirement and second home regions with already shaky local economies.

Russell Thomson, Alicante’s former British consul, has delivered a petition to the European Parliament calling the law discriminatory against expat residents and in breach of EU rules. Draconian fines for errors or non-declaration are scaring British retirees who could be fined €10,000 for making a mistake on the confusing forms.

Others consider that the requirement to list all overseas assets, bank account details, mortgages, savings accounts and investments in an online format is a potential security nightmare. Retired Justice of the Peace Lorna Ainsworth, founder of the Xabia Democratica expat-focused political party, has received a huge number of requests for help from bewildered elderly expats.T

The main concern is that the Spanish government has given no clues as to why the sensitive personal information is being collected, nor any assurance that it will not be used to facilitate a savings grab. Many expat residents are surrendering their residency status and planning to spend less than the stipulated six months a year in Spain to avoid making the declaration.
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