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Legal framework and tax implications of e-commerce in Spain

The main legal and tax issues to take into consideration regarding e-commerce, digital economy and privacy are discussed in this chapter.

In Spain, as in neighboring countries, e-commerce-related activities are currently the object of specific regulation. In transactions involving e-commerce, regard should be had to the legislation on distance sales, advertising, standard contract terms, electronic signatures, data protection, intellectual and industrial property, and e-commerce and information society services, among others. Apart from these specific laws, it is also necessary to examine the general legislation on civil and commercial contracts and, when in case of e-commerce addressed to consumers (B2C), the specific regulation on consumers’ protection should also be considered.

E-commerce raises tax issues that can be addressed with difficulty from a purely Spanish perspective. For this reason, the Spanish tax authorities have preferred to wait until a consensus is reached on the measures to be adopted regionally and even worldwide. Fair progress has been made in reaching a consensus on the VAT treatment of “on-line e-commerce”. As for the direct taxation issues, it is foreseeable that any consensus will take the form of a coordinated, uniform interpretation of the various criteria determining the tax treatment of e-commerce. A good example of this is the amendments made to the commentaries on the OECD Model Convention.