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Number of super-rich in Spain grows 74% since reintroduction of wealth tax

Figures show the ultra-wealthy have benefited more from the economic recovery than other citizens

A yacht in a shipyard in Alicante.
A yacht in a shipyard in Alicante.

Spain’s super-rich population has grown 74% since wealth tax was reintroduced in 2011, in the middle of the economic recession.

Figures for 2017 released by Spanish tax authorities show that 611 taxpayers declared net assets of €30 million or more. In 2011 that number was 352.

There are huge regional disparities: in Madrid, the super-rich pay nothing in wealth tax

The number of citizens who declared property worth more than €1.5 million grew 35% for a total of 60,337 individuals.

The Spanish Tax Agency’s statistics show that the ultra-wealthy have benefited from the economic recovery to a greater extent than other citizens.

The levy is controversial, and Spain is one of the few remaining countries that still taxes an individual’s net assets (if these are in excess of €700,000) on top of income or capital gains. While it is a state levy, it has been devolved to the regions, leading to huge disparities depending on one’s tax residence.

The Madrid region, for instance, has a 100% allowance, meaning that its super-rich population has to pay nothing in wealth tax. This deprives the regional government of €955.6 million a year. Catalonia, which does collect the wealth tax, makes €498.5 million annually.

The tax agency’s statistics for 2015 show that there were 71 people worth more than €100 million that year

Part of the reason why the super-rich population has grown so much is the fact that in 2012, the government of Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party (PP), introduced a tax amnesty that uncovered €40 billion that had been going undeclared until then.

The following year, the government approved a tax form known as Modelo 720 that forced individuals to declare their international assets or face a stiff fine. This uncovered €156 billion in assets that Spanish residents were keeping abroad.

The tax agency’s statistics for 2015 show that there were 71 people worth more than €100 million that year, including athletes, artists, business leaders and the heirs of Spain’s wealthiest families.

English version by Susana Urra.

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