EXPATS: Time to declare your worldwide assets if you haven’t already


You have until the end of the month to file your worldwide asset declaration with the Spanish taxman or face swingeing fines that could make you wish you’d never heard of Spain.

Just a heads-up for expats living in Spain that the end of March is fast approaching, and with it the deadline for filing Spain’s infamous Modelo 720 ‘Information return on assets and rights held abroad’, also know as the worldwide asset declaration form.

If you live in Spain and own assets with a value of €50,000 or more per category (for example €50,000 spread over different bank accounts abroad, or a property worth €200,000) you have to complete this declaration. The fines for not doing so, or filing late, or making mistakes, are eye-watering, so best not take any chances with missing the deadline.

I won’t explain the law here as I’ve done that in previous articles (see ‘Expats are the target of a new law (Modelo 720) on worldwide asset declaration’ or follow the Modelo 720 tag below), and for those who are interested, I also provide links at the bottom to some tax advisors who have a reputation for knowing this subject. This is just to remind you that the filing deadline is approaching.

What if you have failed to declare in previous years, like the person who recently left this comment at SPI?

“I’m resident in Spain since december 2014, I didn’t know to fill in a modelo 720 form in 2015..I found out I had to do it the first 3 months in 2015 but I didn’t know a Gestor told me I’m to0 late so they can fine me with 150% is this right? even If I fill it in one year later? Their advice was not to declare but this sounds strange to me ..I have 700k in assets.”

The fines are so high they essentially discourage expats from complying. By some estimates there are thousands of expats in this situation.

This law basically treats anyone who owns assets abroad as a criminal until proven otherwise. I’m told it was intended, amongst other things, to discourage corrupt politicians from hiding their wealth abroad, but perhaps as an unintended consequence – who knows – the biggest victims are foreign expats living in Spain, many of whom have assets back home they acquired long before coming to live in Spain.

No study has yet been done on the economic impact of this law on the Spanish economy, but I suspect it impoverishes Spain by discouraging expats and foreign investment, whilst doing little to uncover the ill gotten gains of locals.

+ Spanish Tax Office information page (partially in English)
+ DMS Consulting (in Mallorca)
+ LexTax Consulting (in Javea)
+ Javier Salinas Ullastres (in Marbella and Madrid)
+ Esteban Raventós at Baker & McKenzie (Barcelona)

SPI Member Comments

Thoughts on “EXPATS: Time to declare your worldwide assets if you haven’t already

  • Graham Kervin says:

    I have no assets abroad, but I sold 2 buildings in the UK to my children on an interest free mortgage which they re-pay on a monthly basis.
    Would the tax office consider this as an asset?


  • Hi Mark,
    I have a property in Spain, which I rent out long term. I live in the UK and pay non residents taxes and a Suma tax.

    Do I need to fill out an asset form?

  • Hey Mark thanks for your blog I find it very interesting. I’m Australian and have been living in Spain for a few years and only just heard about this model 720. I have some term deposits and a property in Australia. Does the Spanish government only want to know what we have or do they want to tax us on our wealth?! I’m happy to declare everything as all my savings have been taxed and my investment property doesn’t make a profit. Any advice would be great.

    • Mark Stücklin says:

      Sam, they claim they just want to know what your assets are for information purposes, but many people are sceptical and think it’s just a first step. However, be warned, declaring late risks big fines. Seek specialist advice if you have any doubts.

      • Hola chic@s,

        If you live here more than 180 days a year you are considered tax resident – punto final !!… as Mark says you need to disclose assets and income worldwide – Where Spain has a double tax treaty you won’t have to pay the tax twice (so, no problem) ; otherwise??? with increasing big brother watching; I would be very careful and get my house in order – Spain is slow, but they do get there in the end!! there is also a penalty if you declare now; ie two years late – get a top tax consultant and get sorted !

  • Hi Mark, thanks for your honest views on this, very interesting. My wife and I both filed in 2013 as soon as I heard, although 3 months late. Were worried about a fine for that but nothing yet. We have property in the UK. My issue is that I recently discovered that my wife’s total property cost went up as per exchange rate December 31st 2015 by more than the 20k, actually about 29k. We did not refile her declaration last year and now I am worried about that even though the exchange rate has since gone down again. Yet another ridiculous requirement of this it seems to me. Further I did declare my one property but have never filed an income tax return in Spain as I do not work, here or anywhere, as I take care of our kids whilst my wife works. The income from the property is negligible but again I am concerned they will slap me with an unrealised capital gain. Although I do not see how these fines can stand up when you have not deliberately avoided tax. Minor mistakes should be allowed as in any reasonable system.

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