Self-employed and on lockdown in Spain

Like anyone reading this, I am a self-employed worker in Spain. I am currently unable to work and have lost all my income. I have been paying my taxes and Social Security assiduously and hope that the government might come to my aid. For the time being, little had been decreed. But, we can use this time to learn a little about our rights as self-employed workers, and how to gather information about our situation.

Hacienda – the taxman

The Ministry of Finance in Spain is called Hacienda. The web site of the Finance Office in Madrid is hacienda.gob.es. Note that the Spanish government servers issue their own security certificates and these often give errors in your web browser. You may have to specifically accept the certificate.

The actual tax collection office is called the Agencia Tributaria. Their web site is https://www.agenciatributaria.gob.es. From the front page, you can get lots of rather dense and wordy information. But in order to do anything, you need to access the “Sede Electrónica” (Virtual Office). If you don’t already have either a Cl@ve (key) or a Certificado Digital (digital certificate) installed in your browser, you won’t be able to go further. But, keep it in mind for the future.

The Agencia Tributaria web site is difficult at first, but everything is in there and up-to-date. So, my hearty recommendation is that you set yourself up with a Digital Certificate and get in there! To request this, you may need to go to SUMA or your Town Hall. So, put it on the list of future plans once you’re out of the house!

Things that are interesting to know are your “IAE Epígrafe”. This is the code of your work. You can have up to five of them, so I, for example, am a massage therapist (839), a yoga teacher (826) and also do “professional services for real estate” (799). This last one is because I manage an Airbnb for a friend. Even though it is a small fraction of my income, I have a contract for this work, and I took the time to set myself up with the taxman for it.

For now, understand this: if you are self-employed in Spain, you should be paying your IVA (VAT or sales tax, 21%) and your IRPF (Income tax) every trimester, so every three months. For now, Hacienda has not informed us of any extension or pro-rogation to declaration deadline. So, for the time being, by 20 April, 2020, you will have to declare and pay your quarterly taxes.

Seguridad Social – Social Security

The Ministry responsible for Social Security in Spain has a very long name. Its website is: http://www.mitramiss.gob.es/. Where you actually pay your Social Security in Spain is Seguridad Social. Their website is http://www.seg-social.es/.

To use their Sede Electrónica, you will need the same stuff as for Hacienda. You might, for the sake of curiosity, want to check you IAE epigraph against the Social Security epigraph. Helpfully, they are not the same. This is the sort of stuff you pay your gestor for. But, if you’re a DIY’er like me, you can find one from the other here; https://www.iberaval.es/conversor/

On the front page, they have published an FAQ, only in Spanish, about the measures being taken for businesses and self-employed during the Coronavirus lockdown.

It took me a few reads to understand it, but summing up, if you are in debt to or embargoed by Social Security, they won’t charge you anything related to this right now. However, everyone else has to keep paying their monthly payments.

So by 31 March, 2020, make sure you have the money in your account because it is going to come out. Points 7 and 8 are particularly delightful, pointing out in 7 that, “yes, that means you, self-employed worker” and in 8 that if you don’t pay, you are liable for a penalty, but they won’t notify you of this until the State of Emergency has been lifted. (12 April, 2020, so far).

Summing up

As usual, we will keep on paying while getting little back. This is the life the self-employed, and the same situation seems to have arisen in the UK. However, in Spain, as you all know, we pay the highest Social Security in Europe, so we are particularly punished.

Sorry to bear bad tidings. Please check out your situation and take good care. And hey, I am not a financial advisor not accountant, so please investigate what I have written and make sure you agree, or not.

Good luck, autónomos, mucha mierda.

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