The Catalans improve in the tax payment compliance. A study prepared by experts from the University of Barcelona presented this Thursday has evaluated the tax gap between 2014 and 2018 and has reached that perhaps counterintuitive conclusion. According to the study, in 2018, 511.3 million euros were not collected, 14.5% of the total estimated possible. The difference between the taxes that must be paid and those that are actually paid was reduced in Catalonia by 32.2% in a period of four years, a fact that according to the Government “shows an improvement in taxpayers’ voluntary tax compliance” . In the case of the net tax gap, which takes into account the proactive action of the Agència Tributària de Catalunya (ATC), this improvement in tax compliance was 21.9%.
The authors assure that their study is a true ‘full-mont tax‘, a pioneer in Spain in addressing the fiscal fraud from a rigorous methodological analysis, comparable to that applied in leading countries and inspired by the methodology of the US federal tax agency.
The conclusions of the analysis confirm the tax gap to the point of making concrete estimates quantifiable of that difference between what is paid in taxes and what must be paid. But the analysis is restricted to the peculiar universe of most of the taxes transferred (91% of the total) to Catalonia: the wealth tax; inheritance and donations; property transfers and legal acts; and the one that tourist accommodation must pay.
Heritage and inheritance
Of the 511.3 million estimated as a gross tax gap, a total of 277.8 million correspond to wealth tax and 160.8 to inheritance. They are the quantitative logical focus of greater tax fraud. 64% of the tax gap comes from undeclared assets located abroad.
The analysis of the ‘tax gap‘ also provides estimates of the causes that motivate the lower collection of what is due in taxes. It is especially noteworthy that more than a quarter of tourist accommodation establishments in Catalonia (25.8%) do not self-assess (they do not pay directly), the highest percentage among taxes managed by the Government. The fraud in this case is concentrated above all in tourist apartments in Barcelona, but also in hotels with less than four stars, rural tourism houses, campsites, etc.
Underreporting (declaring less than what is due) is the main cause of the tax gap, while non-payment does not exceed 4% in any case. The main sources of tax fraud occur in property tax on financial assets abroad (84%), luxury goods (7%) and non-filers. In the case of donation tax, financial assets abroad (58%) or bonuses from family businesses (25%). In the transmission tax, the main cause of tax evasion is to value the properties below what is due.
In the act of presentation of the report, the ‘conseller’ of Economy and Finance, Jaume Giró, stressed that this type of analysis is “pioneering” in the State and demonstrates the “commitment of the Government in the fight against tax fraud”. Giró added that Catalonia is “a responsible country that is aware of tax obligations” and that the regional administration is “modern and based on principles of transparency and accountability.”