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Spain's Beckham Law

The "Beckham Law" is a Spanish tax law that was passed in 2005. The law gained its nickname after football player David Beckham became one of the first foreigners to take advantage of it.

Previously, any foreign worker remaining in the country over 183 days in a tax year was deemed to be "tax resident" which meant they were liable for Spanish taxes on their worldwide income, not just their Spanish source income and assets. With the Beckham Law, an expat can apply to be taxed as a non-Spanish resident under the Spanish Non-Resident Income Tax rules, which means they will only be taxed on income they earn in Spain, and not on income they may continue to earn elsewhere in the world. Under this exemption, the expat would be subject to a flat 24% tax rate, rather than the taxation rates applicable to Spanish residents. If taxed as a resident, the expat would be subject to a progressive tax scale ranging from 15% to 43% depending on their level of income.

  • This exemption applies to all foreign workers, although it is geared more toward wealthier expats i.e. middle & upper management and international football players.
  • Foreign workers must apply and be accepted for the tax exemption.
  • The exemption applies in the year of arrival and for the following 5 tax years, for a total of 6 years.
  • Any capital gains obtained in a Spanish territory will be taxed at 35%.
  • Expats are subject to the Spanish Net Worth Tax for assets and rights located or exercisable in Spanish territory.

Conditions:

  • The expat must be a first time resident to Spain.
  • The expat must have relocated to take up an employment contract in Spain.
  • Employment duties must be carried out in Spain, although if they must also perform part of their duties outside Spain, the percentage of their income earned from these activities must not exceed 15%.
  • The work must be performed for a Spanish corporate entity, or for a Permanent Spanish establishment of a foreign company.
  • The application must be made within 6 months of commencing the employment contract.

For more information, see our article on Spanish taxes for expats published in The Telegraph.