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550,000 property owners to complain about ‘value added’ municipal tax

A sentencing by the Constitutional Court on 16 February last declared unconstitutional various articles of the provincial law of Guipúzcoa referring to the value added tax on Terrenos de Naturaleza Urbana (IIVTNU), known as ‘plusvalía municipal’.

The High Court endorses the fact that one cannot impose the payment of a tax from the seller which presupposes an increase in value which, in reality, has not happened. It is a question of the time taken for a resolution, in this same sense, of the numerous questions from other courts relative to the legislation at state level (rewritten text from the Law of Local Haciendas).

If the law is finally applied at state level, the number of houses in which repayment of the ‘plusvalia’ paid could be demanded, due to the market value at sale  being lower than the purchase value , would be about 550,000 properties, according to calculations carried out by Tinsa from their statistics on the changes in house prices (IMIE index) and data from the Ministry of Development and the Colegio de Registradores de la Propiedad. In this group of houses are included purchase transactions as well as donations, exchanges and inheritances, all also liable for payment of this tax.

The estimate takes into account the number of transfers of houses carried out in Spain between 2013 and 2016 (given that transactions from the past four years could be considered), as well as the average period that the properties have been in the hands of their owners. From the combination of this information with the evolution of the average value in each of the Spanish provinces, Tinsa has obtained the approximate number of houses changing hands since 2013 having a market value less than at the moment of purchase.

The IIVTNU taxes the increase in value of the land at the moment of changeover of a property, up to a maximum ownership of 20 years. However, to calculate the amount to charge for this tax one can only take into account the land registry value of the land at the moment of sale and the years that is has been in the hands of the owner. A method which shows that added value has always existed, independent of the fact that the real value of the and has not increased..

Marta García, director of the Consultoría Técnica de Tinsa, gives the example of a house situated in the district of Carabanchel (Madrid capital) with a market value at closure of 180,000 euros and whose land value is approximately 52,000 euros. “According to the calculations of the administration, if this house were to be sold today after the average period of tenancy in Spain (12 years), the municipal added value tax would be 5,000 euros. The reality is that these 180,000 euros include a significant loss in respect of the 245,000 euros of the market value it had at completion in the year 2005”, García explains.