Opera singer Montserrat Caballé under scrutiny for tax evasion

Spain’s most famous soprano allegedly failed to pay €500,000 in income tax in 2010

Montserrat Caballé in 2007. / SUSANNA SAEZ

Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé is being investigated by a Barcelona court for allegedly evading €500,000 in taxes.

Prosecutors believe the 81-year-old soprano avoided the income tax payment in 2010 by using an Andorra-based company to handle the revenue from her European performances. Her payments were made to an account in an Andorran bank.

In 2010, Caballé performed in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine. She also recorded works in Moscow, Geneva and Barcelona.

The prosecution notes that Caballé regularly resides in Barcelona, even though for tax purposes she is registered in the nearby principality, which is widely considered to be a tax haven.

The singer is just the latest celebrity to be caught up in a tax-related scandal

The performances earned Caballé €2 million, of which she should have paid €508,000 to the Spanish tax authorities, the accusation holds.

The prosecution also states that Caballé pretended to live in Andorra “so that the Tax Agency would not be aware of her income, and would not be able to demand that she pay the corresponding taxes.” Most of her contract work in 2010 was signed through the Andorra-based firm Reial Classics S.L..

Other contracts signed in her own name showed Caballé’s residence as Andorra, and included a clause stipulating that all payments should be made in cash, in checks or in transfers to the Andorra account.

The soprano has reduced her touring in the last two years owing to poor health. In 2012 she had a stroke and later that same year she broke her arm while in Russia for a show.

The singer, who will testify in court on May 9, is just the latest celebrity to be caught up in a tax-related scandal in Spain. Earlier this month Ana Torroja, former singer in 1980s Spanish pop group Mecano, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and will have to pay the state €1.5 million. The singers Alejandro Sanz, Lola Flores and Isabel Pantoja have also all run into trouble with the tax authorities, as have tennis player Rafa Nadal, soccer star Leo Messi and flamenco dancer Joaquin Cortés.

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