Today’s post is a vignette of my calvario yesterday when paying the massive tax - 7% - charged on all property transactions here. In this case, the purchase of a little house in the hills outside Pontevedra.
The first port of call was the photocopying shop – always a busy place in Spain. Here I asked for 3 copies of everything I feared I might be asked for. So it was a good job I didn’t realise until much later that my flies were open, as I might have got ahead of myself.
Then off to the bank, to check I had enough funds in my current account after a transfer last week from a deposit account. Of course, as my bank card no longer works in any ATM and the new one has yet to arrive after merely a week, I had to talk to one of the bank clerks about this. When I mentioned that I couldn’t access my account because the new card hadn’t arrived, her only response was ‘Oh, dear’. But she got more voluble when I asked how her retired predecessor was doing. Spends a lot of time fishing, apparently. Anyway, I was pleased to find I was in funds and set off for the tax office in relatively good spirits.
THE INFORMATION/PRESENTATION DESK
Without too much confidence that it is OK, I hand over the form I’d completed last night – as per the instructions entirely in Gallego:-
- But you haven’t paid this.
Yes, I know. I want to know how I do this.
Well, you can either pay through your bank or over at the Cashiers here. But first I recommend that you take the form to the REVISION DESK to get it checked.
I decide first to check on the payment options as I’m running up against the 30 day deadline, after which I’ll face a whacking fine on top of the humongous tax.
So . . .
THE CASHIERS WINDOW
- Hello. I understand I can pay this through my bank.
Are you a customer of Caixa Galicia?
No, you can’t. You’ll have to pay cash.
Cash! But it’s a large sum to carry through the streets.
I know but you don’t have any choice. Citibank doesn’t have an arrangement with the Xunta. Why don’t you do yourself and other foreigners a favour and make a fuss about this. Then, next time you have to pay anything, it’ll be easier.
Thanks. I’ll try.
THE REVISION DESK
- Hello, I’d like you to check this, please. And, by the way, can I pay it through Citibank?
[Eventually, and to my astonishment] Yes, it’s fine. And yes, you can pay it via Citibank as all the banks have an arrangement with the Xunta.
BACK AT THE BANK
- I’m told I can pay this tax through you.
No, you can’t. We don’t have an arrangement with the Xunta.
Why not? I pay my annual income taxes through you.
Ah, yes but that’s the national government and this tax is payable direct to the Xunta. To have an arrangement with them for this would mean us installing all sorts of systems they require and we don’t have enough business to justify it.
Well, OK but I now need X thousand euros in cash to pay it at the Hacienda this morning.
OK but you’ll have to wait 5 or 10 minutes while we wait for the vault to open. Are you happy to take it in 500 euro notes?
Ah, the so-called Bin Ladens! Yes, I’d be delighted to finally see some of these.
OK, please sign this form on the front and on the back with your ID number.
Ten minutes of reading the Xunta’s weekly paper later, I am given the cash and I secrete it in my attaché case. Which I’m now very glad I’ve brought.
BACK AT THE TAX OFFICE
I remit the funds to the cashier and have the side conversation I posted yesterday. I get back two stamped copies of the form and return to the . .
- OK, I’ve now paid this. What next?
Well, I can’t read the cashier’s stamp. How much have you paid?
What it says on the form.
[The form is read and the computer consulted about my existence. There is a temporary stall as it refuses to recognise my ID number. But all is resolved when I advise that I also have a fiscal number given to me before I came to Spain and this is the one used for my tax submissions. And then . . .]
Well, everything is in order. Please give me the original escritura [public deed] and the notary’s copy.
After various stamps and stickers have been applied, I am given back the escritura but not the copy, which will presumably join the millions of others somewhere in a vast warehouse, never to be looked at again.
And I depart with a light tread, delighted that something that could be done with a short phone call in the UK has taken me only two hours and not the four or five I’d feared.
And no one asked me for any of the photocopies I’d made. Or told me I was lacking one essential form or piece of paper. Mind you, I was handing over a prince’s ransom. Things might have been different if I’d been seeking some money from them.
And, as I said yesterday, everyone was very pleasant to me and spoke in Spanish, not Gallego. Especially my new friend - the lonely, isolated cashier with Castilian blood. This town being – thankfully! – rather small, we’re bound to meet on the street quite a few times in the years ahead. I only hope I recognise him. The hangdog expression should help.
Now for the registration of title. In a different office. In a different town . . .