How to file VAT returns online in Spain

Posted on Posted in Publications, Tax, VAT

As from 2015 any communication between companies and other legal persons with the tax office and other authorities must compulsory be done online. This means that any document submitted in paper will be deemed not to have been filed. Basically, this means that it will not have any legal effect.

When the Tax Office, or any other authority, receives a paper document from a Company the only obligation would be to warn that this document will not be admitted. Then the tax payer will be given 10 days to submit the digital version of the document through the electronic registrar that every administration must keep. But it is important to keep in mind that the paper document originally submitted would not have any legal effect. For instance, if a Company submits a VAT return in paper the last day of the legal term, and the day after submits online the same tax return, the VAT return would be deemed to have been filed out of date. Moreover, the tax payer shall be penalised  because filing paper tax returns by companies and other legal persons is  considered a tax offence.

In order for the companies to submit online tax returns (and any other documents), they need to have installed  a so-called electronic certificate or digital certificate. This is a file that allows the Spanish Tax Office to identify tax payers. When the tax payer logs into the Tax Office site, it can identify who is the tax payer and then allows the former to submit documents.

But more importantly, the Tax Office will only send letters and other notices online. Every tax payer has a virtual post in the Tax Office servers, where all notices are deposited. To access said notices, the tax  payer must login with his electronic certificate and download the notices.  Thus, without an electronic certificate, tax payers will not be able to be aware of any notices sent by the Spanish Tax Office, which is very risky. According to the Law, once the Tax Office deposits a document in the virtual post of a tax payer, if the latter does not access his post and download the notice within ten days, the notice is considered duly noticed for every legal effect. For instance, the term of one month to appeal against a tax assessment will start on the eleventh day from the date in which the Tax Office deposited the document into the virtual post. Obviously, it the tax payer accesses his virtual post before, the notice would be deemed to be done the very same day he downloaded the notice.

Getting an electronic certificate in Spain is not extremely easy. Specially for foreign companies or subsidiaries of foreign companies with non-resident directors. It involves three steps:

  1. Application for the certificate: it is done online in the site of the FNMT, which is the public entity in charge of delivering electronic certificates. The tax payer receives a code from the FNMT, which identifies his application.
  2. The tax payer must go personally to the Tax Office with all the documents showing the existence of the company and the powers of the individual representing the tax payer. For Spanish companies, now the Tax Office can access directly the Registrar of Companies to check if the company is in good standing and if the person attending has powers to apply for the certificate (for instance , that he is the director of the company). If everything is correct, then the Tax Office authorises the release of the certificate and communicate online to the FNMT that there are not objections to issue the electronic certificate
  3. The third step is to login again into the site of the FNMT and download the certificate. Once it has been downloaded, it can be installed in any browser. One word of caution, the certificate must be installed in the same computer from where the application was originally filed. And also, using the same browser. You cannot apply with Explorer and install the certificate with Chrome. However, once the certificate has been successfully installed in the original computer, it can be exported and installed in  any other computer.

If you need help in this matter, please feel free to contact us for further assistance.