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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