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2. Central government taxes

2.12 Special regimes of certain autonomous communities

2.12.1 Canary Islands tax regime

The Canary Islands enjoy tax benefits intended to compensate for the disadvantages brought about by insularity and distance from the Spanish mainland and the main goal of which is to attract investments to the Canary Islands.

That regime has been renewed for the period 2015 to 2010 through the approval of Royal Decree-Law 15/2014, of December 19, amending the Canary Islands Economic and Tax Regime, including some improvements in relation to the former regime which mainly affect the regulation of the Canary Islands Investment Reserve (RIC) and the Canary Islands Special Zone.

As these incentives constitute State aid, and due to the authorities’ approach in relation to State aid, with that renewal, the system for notification and subsequent authorization by the EU was discontinued and has been replaced by a mechanism to adapt all of the incentives included in the Canary Islands tax regime to Community legislation.

The regime is basically as follows:

2.12.1.1 Direct taxation

  • There is a reduction of 50% of the portion of gross tax payable that relates to income from the sale of tangible goods specific to agricultural, livestock farming, industrial or fishing activities, provided that they have been produced by the taxpayer itself in the archipelago.
  • The tax credit for investment in fixed assets consisting of 25% of the investment up to a limit of 50% of tax payable net of tax reductions and double taxation credits remains in force.
  • The tax credits rates for investments made in the Canary Islands are higher than those applicable to investments in the Spanish mainland.
  • The taxable amount is reduced (by up to 90% of undistributed income per books for the year) by amounts recorded to the RIC: The RIC must be invested within a period of up to three years, and can be invested in certain investments (to create or expand establishments, create jobs, acquire certain assets, including the subscription of shares or other securities, investments contributing to the improvement and protection of the environment); these investments must be related (according to the requirements which are expressly regulated) with activities or entities/establishments in the Canary Islands, and they must be maintained for 5 years.
  • Also, two new tax credits were created for entities domiciled in the Canary Islands (with an average workforce of 50 employees and revenues below €10 million):
    1. Tax credit for investments in territories of western Africa (Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde).

      That tax credit is 15% of the amounts invested in setting up subsidiaries or permanent establishments, with an increase in average workforce in the Canary Islands. In the case of subsidiaries, they must be owned by companies with registered office in the Canary Islands.

    2. Tax credit of 15% of expenses for advertising and publicity, product launches, opening and researching markets abroad and attending trade fairs and the like.
  • The renewal of the REF included an increase from 32% to 45% in the tax credit for technological innovation through activities carried on in the Canary Islands.
  • Canary Islands Special Zone

    Canary Islands legislation also regulates the special tax regime of the Canary Islands Special Zone (ZEC), authorized in January 2000 by the European Commission, due to considering its application compatible with the provisions regulating the Single Market. The renewal of this tax incentive was included in the negotiation process on the Directives 2007-2013, establishing that the ZEC would remain in force until December 31, 2019 for authorizations granted up to December 31, 2013, although with minor modifications. However, the application of this special regime has been extended until 2026, and the period for requesting authorization has been extended to December 31, 2020.

    The regime is applicable to newly formed entities and branches domiciled in the Canary Islands that are registered on the Official Register of Entities in the ZEC. Registered entities and branches must meet certain requirements, such as (i) having their registered office and place of effective management in the Canary Islands (although permanent establishments may be used to perform their activities both within and outside the Canary Islands, which must first be communicated to the Governing Council of the ZEC); (ii) having at least one director residing in the Canary Islands; (iii) having as their corporate purposes the performance of the economic activities expressly established in the law (financial activities being excluded in all cases); or (iv) creating a minimum number of jobs within the first six months following authorization, and keeping an annual average headcount of at least that number throughout the period in which the regime applies.

    The regime also requires (v) making a minimum amount of investments in the first years, through the acquisition of tangible or intangible assets located or received in the geographical area of the ZEC and which are used and necessary to perform the activities carried out in that area; and (vi) filing with the authorities a descriptive report on the activities to be carried out which supports their feasibility, international competitiveness and their contribution to the economic and social development of the islands, the content of which will be binding for the entity.

    Pursuant to the tax regime, the income obtained by the ZEC entities will be subject to CIT at a single special tax rate of 4%. This reduced tax rate only applies up to a certain amount of tax base, depending on the activity carried out and the jobs created. Moreover:

    • Since January 1, 2015, it is possible to take the tax credit for domestic double taxation on the dividends relating to holdings in ZEC entities coming from income that has been taxed at the reduced rate of 4%, and on the income obtained on the transfer of ZEC entities.
    • The interest, capital gains and dividends obtained by nonresidents with holdings in ZEC entities are exempt from nonresident income tax in Spain on the same conditions as for residents in the EU, where that income is paid by a ZEC entity and comes from transactions physically and effectively carried out in the geographical scope of the ZEC. These exemptions will not apply where the income and capital gains are obtained through countries or territories classed by regulations as tax havens, or where the parent has its tax residence in those territories.

    The ZEC entities enjoy an exemption from transfer and stamp tax in relation to the acquisitions of assets and rights to be used by the taxpayer to perform its activity, provided they are located, can be exercised or must be met in the geographical scope of the ZEC.

    Moreover, the supplies of goods and services carried out between ZEC entities, and imports of goods made by ZEC entities will be exempt from Canary Islands general indirect tax.

  • Incentive for Cinematographic Activities in the Canary Islands

    Two tax credits are established for Cinematographic Activities in the Canary Islands:

    • Tax credit for Spanish cinematographic productions and audiovisual series, whereby, provided a number of requirements are met, a tax credit may be taken on the total costs of the production. That tax credit is 50% on the first million euros, and 45% to any excess over that amount. The total tax credit may not exceed 18 million euros.
    • Tax credit for expenses incurred in Spain for foreign productions of feature films or audiovisual works, whereby, provided a number of requirements are met, a tax credit may be taken of up to 50% on the first million euros, and 45% to any excess over that amount. The total tax credit may not exceed 18 million euro in case of international productions. Expenses incurred in Canary Island may reach, at least, 1 million euros. In the cases of animation and postproduction works, expenses incurred should reach, at least, 200,000 €.
  • Control of incentives and limits on the accumulation of aid derived from the application of EU Law

    As stated previously, the REF incentives are State aid. That aid is therefore subject to control measures, in accordance with the REF Regulations, and are grouped as follows pursuant to Community legislation:

    1. Regional aid for business operations.
    2. Regional aid to investment.
    3. Aid for small and medium-size enterprises.
    4. Aid for audiovisual works.

    Moreover:

    1. It is established that the aid obtained by the beneficiaries of the REC shall be included in an informational return (form 282).
    2. Rules are established for computing the aid to determine the accumulation thereof, and limits on that accumulation are specified.
    3. The procedure is established for recovery of excess aid if those limits are exceeded.
    4. Lastly, the authority to monitor and control that accumulation of aid, no matter what kind of aid it is, pertains to the State Tax Agency, without prejudice to the authority attributed to other bodies of the public administration, in particular to the Central Government Controller’s Office.

2.12.1.2 Indirect taxation

For indirect tax purposes, rather than VAT, the Canary Islands General Indirect Tax (IGIC), which is similar to VAT, applies at the standard rate of 7% since January 1, 2020, (after the reduction to 6.5% in 2019). In addition, the increased tax rate has also been raised for 2020, going from 13.5% to 15%.

The tax on imports and supplies of goods in the Canary Islands (AIEM) also applies to the production and import in the Canary Islands of certain tangible goods.

Lastly, there are certain incentives in indirect taxation: for example, in transfer tax under the “transfers for a consideration” heading, an exemption applies to acquisitions of capital goods and of intangible assets (for 50% of the investment, except in the case of small and medium-size enterprises) which fall within the definition of initial investment mentioned previously according to the regulations established in the RIC, where certain requirements are met (article 25 of Law 19/1994).

2.12.2 Special regime applicable in the Basque Country

The Economic Accord with the Autonomous Community Government of the Basque Country recognizes the power of the institutions of the provinces of the Basque Country (Álava, Guipúzcoa and Vizcaya) to regulate taxes. In general, they have full or shared regulatory authority in the area of direct taxation, but far more limited authority in the indirect taxation area.

The institutions of the provinces of the Basque Country also have the power to levy, manage, assess, inspect, review and collect taxes, except with respect to import duties and excise taxes on imports.

The Economic Accord regulates the applicable connecting factors in order to determine which body of laws, namely, those pertaining to Spain (excluding the Basque Country and Navarra) or those pertaining to the provinces of the Basque Country and to Navarra, apply to taxpayers and the powers to collect and inspect each tax, with revenue-raising power being shared in some cases between various tax authorities.

The specific characteristics of the main taxes of each of the Historical Territories are contained in the following legislation.

  • Corporate Income Tax:
    • Álava: Provincial Corporate Income Tax Law 37/2013, of December 13, 2013; Provincial Law 20/2014, of June 18, 2014, making technical corrections in certain provincial tax laws of the Historical Territory of Álava; and Provincial Law 15/2015, of October 28, 2015, amending various tax provisions of the Historical Territory of Álava.
    • Guipúzcoa: Provincial Corporate Income Tax Law 2/2014, of January 17, 2014, of the Historical Territory of Guipúzcoa; and Provincial Law 7/2015, of December 23, 2015, approving certain tax amendments.
    • Vizcaya: Provincial Corporate Income Tax Law 11/2013, of December 5, 2013, and Provincial Law 3/2014, of June 11, 2014, making technical corrections in certain provincial tax laws of the Historical Territory of Vizkaya.
  • PIT:
    • Álava: Provincial Personal Income Tax Law 33/2013, of November 27, 2013; Provincial Law 20/2014, of June 18, 2014, making technical corrections in certain provincial tax laws of the Historical Territory of Álava; and Provincial Law 15/2015, of October 28, 2015, amending various tax provisions of the Historical Territory of Álava.
    • Guipúzcoa: Provincial Personal Income Tax Law 3/2014, of January 17, 2014; and Provincial Law 7/2015, of December 23, 2015, approving certain tax amendments.
    • Vizcaya: Provincial Personal Income Tax Law 13/2013, of December 5, 2013, and Provincial Law 3/2014, of June 11, 2014, making technical corrections in certain provincial tax laws of the Historical Territory of Vizcaya.
  • Inheritance and gift tax:
    • Álava: Provincial Inheritance and Gift Tax Law 11/2005, of May 16, 2005, and Provincial Law 20/2014, of June 18, 2013, making technical corrections in certain provincial tax laws of the Historical Territory of Álava.
    • Guipúzcoa: Provincial Inheritance and Gift Tax Law 3/1990, of January 11, 1990; Provincial Law 1/2014, of January 17, 2014, amending Provincial Inheritance and Gift Tax Law 3/1990, of January 11, 1990, of the Historical Territory of Guipúzcoa; and Provincial Law 7/2015, of December 23, 2015, approving certain tax amendments.
    • Vizcaya: Provincial Inheritance and Gift Tax Law 4/2015, of March 25, 2015.
  • Wealth Tax:
    • Álava: Provincial Wealth Tax Law 9/2013, of March 11, 2013.
    • Guipúzcoa: Provincial Law 2/2018, of June 11, 2018, of Tax on Wealth.
    • Vizcaya: Provincial Wealth Tax Law 2/2013, of February 27, 2013.
    • Wealth tax has been reinstated in the three Historical Territories only for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

2.12.3 Special regime applicable in Navarra

Financial and tax dealings between Central Government and the Provincial Government of Navarra are governed by the Economic Agreement, with terms and conditions and powers similar to those under the Economic Accord. In this case, as in the case of the special regime in the Basque Country, the features of each tax are contained in their specific legislation:

  • Corporate income tax: Provincial Corporate Income Tax Law 26/2016, of December 28.
  • Personal income tax: Revised Provincial Personal Income Tax Law (Legislative Provincial Decree 4/2008, of June 2, 2008).
  • Inheritance and gift tax: Revised provisions of the tax (Legislative Provincial Decree 250/2002, of December 16, 2002).
  • Wealth Tax: Provincial Wealth Tax Law 13/1992, of November 19, 1992.