How to Pay Taxes in Spain (aka The Day I Became an Adult)

Today was Tax Day in America.

As I sat telling my suegra of W-10s and 29-cent hamburgers, I realized I would have to turn in my borrador de la declaración de la renta before June 30th. I cursed, having never done it before. In 20120’s fiscal year, I worked not four months, therefore disqualifying myself. 2011 was different, and my measly 2% retention rate meant I’d have to pay, I was sure.

After a quick tutorial on how to solicit the draft, I signed in using my Número de Identificación del Extranjero (called a NIE, or foreign resident card). Almost immediately, I was identified with my name and address. My mouth dropped as Kike howled with laughter. I had to claim a bank account, and from there, all of my financial information was extracted and laid out before my very eyes. Not counting the two months’ vacation or private lessons or camp, I had made under 20.000€. Sad but true.

My phone buzzed with a new message from the Agencia Tributaria. They have my phone number, too!! There was a long code, which I was asked to introduce into a text box. Within seconds, a PDF containing all of my financial information from the 2011 fiscal year was compressed into an eight-page document full of words like retenciones, porcentajes and plenty more I didn’t understand. Kike checked for errors while I held my breath, waiting for the damage.

Um, it says here you can donate to a charity, Kike said. There were two options: the Catholic Church or “bienes sociales” which was probably for beefing up political salaries. I declined, writing off the for-once efficiency that seems to be lacking in every other bureaucratic issue I’d dealt with.

At the end of the seventh page, he announced how much I’d have to pay: a whopping 0€. I hadn’t reached the threshold and have no valuables, like a house or kid. So, I paid my taxes, the government knows a lot about me (but apparently not that I moved 22 months ago), and finally feel like a grown up in Espain.

But, for realz, why do I have to pay taxes if they won’t co-validate my degree or let me have a credit card?! Spain, you wack.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Great video, very useful. Thanks!

  2. the story didn’t publish the first time around, check it out again! and now the video doesn’t show up.

  3. PS 20k is a decent amount of money here!!

    • Oh, I’m stilla few thousand under that! for my American readers, thsi amount of money would be poverty level!! I was going for the shock effect, ha!

      • Yeah, I guess so – cost of living much lower here though. My standards have changed considerably – when I first got here and told a friend in the UK I was earning around 1,000 euros a month (part time), she looked horrified!! Nowadays that is what a large proportion people earn, those lucky enough to have jobs!!

  4. Michelle says:

    Jorge helped me with it last year and I got back a little over 1000 euros…it was a nice surprise! But I’ve been warned not to expect that amount this year…for some reason I might even have to pay! ugghh…

  5. That’s really all it took? Filing taxes in Germany is really easy, too. I would have expected it to be a little less…well…efficient in Spain :)

  6. Hey Cat,
    I love keeping up with your blog! I’m currently doing the Langauge Aasistant program in Andalucía after reading your blogs about it :) I’m having a blast here!! So tax season is coming up, and I am wondering if you had to file taxes for the language assistant program and how that worked with your US tax return. Thanks in advance!! Un beso!

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