New requirements for filing income tax declarations

One of the helpful features of the income tax filing system in Spain is the online service that allows an individual to find out what information already exists in the system.

For many people, especially those whose only source of income is a salary, this makes the process of filing an income tax declaration reasonably easy to manage.

Indeed, the filing of the actual tax declaration can be done by phoning the tax office and you can even make an appointment so the tax office will phone you, you can file via the internet using a digital certificate, or by personally visiting the local tax office (subject to Covid-19 safety rules).

In the past all you needed to file your income tax declaration was your NIE number (DNI for Spanish nationals).

For the 2019 income tax declaration, which is due for filing before the end of June 2020, in order to obtain your tax data or actually file your tax declaration new rules apply to anyone who has to file for the first time.

You must already have a Spanish resident bank account.

This will catch out many foreigners who set up their bank account on arrival to Spain as many banks will automatically open a non-resident account based on passport identification only. The non resident account is of no use to you as a tax resident and should be closed as it will not be recognised by the tax office. You will have to go to your bank to open a new resident account.

You must already have obtained a ‘permiso de residencia’.

There is an identifying code on the ‘permiso de residencia’ document that you will need to enter in the tax declaration system. This is not the NIE. If you do not have a residencia and bearing in mind that these usually take weeks to organise, then there is only one solution – you have to obtain a digital certificate.

A digital certificate is a small computer file that you install on your computer internet browser. When you access an official site in Spain it acts as a kind of signature that identifies you securely and allows you to do things like file tax declarations online.

Usually, getting a digital certificate is relatively painless and just involves a visit to the local tax office, armed with your passport and NIE certificate. Visits to the tax office are by appointment only and Covid-19 safety regulations will allow these in regions that are in Phase 2. The problem is getting an appointment, as there is now two months of pent up demand.

Important: For those who have filed income tax declarations before, these problems do not exist and they can file as normal.


We believe that these new regulations are part of the general tightening up in the tax system and are part of a new initiative to identify non declaring individuals who live in Spain. It seems that the tax system is now capable of automatically cross matching people who do not file tax returns with those who have already obtained residencias.