Living in Spain w/o tax residency

Hi Everyone!

This is my first post. I am coming with information I’ve gathered to hear your thoughts and/or if you know of anyone doing this successfully.

I am an EU citizen (Maltese) and live in Malta currently. I have a residence here, and am employed remotely through a company here (my family is here too). I want to move to Spain and purchase a property to be my (mostly) full time home - but of course, the tax situation is much better in Malta.

I did the legwork and visited a highly regarded international tax lawyer in Madrid and came back with this information. The lawyer told me that GENERALLY the rule is if you live in Spain for over 6 months a year you are considered a tax resident. BUT there are ways around this. The lawyer said that if you have stronger ties to another country (home there, family there, business activities there) AND you get a letter from that country stating that you are a tax resident there - then you will not be considered a tax resident in Spain (Due to the dual taxation agreements and whatnot).

I even asked the lawyer - what if I move to Spain and the Spanish taxman comes after me - can I come back to you for help? The lawyer said no problem - that this is not illegal in the least and is semi-common practice.

I trust this lawyer’s advice. I’m just curious if anyone else has gotten similar advice, is actually doing this, or knows of someone who is? Of any issues that might arise? Should I go ahead and register myself with the authorities there pre-proving my tax status in Malta or should I wait for them to come to me?

Thanks for any feedback!


Hi Katy,

First of all, congratulations on making enough resources and taking the decision to buy/own a property.

From what you wrote, you have no advantage moving to Spain. The tax man is paid to come after everyone who is not paying tax, legal or not. It would now be your job to find said lawyer or any other to defend your case.

Spain is a lovely country but because of where you currently are there will be extra costs and tax implications.

In your shoes, I would buy said house in a different country with less tax headache and I would look outside the EU but then this is all dependent on what drew you to Spain as I consider the possibility that you have personal reasons you yet shared.

All the best…

Katy, If you spend more than 6 months in Spain OR have your “centre of vital interests” in Spain you will be tax resident in Spain. If you do not want to be tax resident in Spain with all of the consequences then your options are to keep your day count low AND maintain your centre of vital interests in Malta. If you are confident of your Maltese residence then your strategy can work. Expats commonly rely on this if they have a holiday or retirement home in Spain. Another thing that expats commonly but improperly do if they cannot meet the requirement of a centre of vital interests outside Spain is take a chance and navigate under the radar. If you buy property in Spain you put yourself on the radar and it will cost you. Even if you register as a non resident, you open yourself up to taxes on acquisition and disposal of the property, onerous annual property taxes on deemed rental income even if you don’t rent out your property and an annual tax on your wealth. People who fly under the radar tend to rent property and manage their footprint in Spain either by not registering or by registering as a non-resident. Be a nomad and rent! :slight_smile:

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Very interesting proposition of flying under the radar by renting. What about any other cost that comes with living in a country that you are trying to be under the radar? Kid’s private school, your rental’s electric bill, etc…?
I am looking to move to Spain in 1 or 2 years and currently have a business and live in the US. That’s why I am asking.

Guys, please be careful with doing things under the radar in Spain as the tax authorities are super aggressive.


Thank you for your thoughts!

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Thank you!! Good advice!

Thank you for your reply. Yes, the Spanish tax authorities are no joke. Trying to gather as much information as possible before making a final descision. :slight_smile:

Another thing you do not want to do is open a bank account, as in France that is how they know you exist and collect taxes. Spain may be the same. Rent without a bank account is the way to go.

Thank you Marc, do you think using bank accounts like Transferwise, N26 or Revolt to pay rent will be considered “flying under the radar”?

From my research N26 is a real bank but Transferwise is not a bank, but a money transfer company, like Western Union. They said that they do not report transactions to governments. Check their web site. So, I think you are ok with Transferwise but riskier with N26. I have found that Transferwise works real well so I would go with them.

Hello guys,
From my experience the Spanish lawyer was right only partially. He expressed his legal opinion to which you of course can appeal in the court if you are squeezed by Spanish tax authorities. In reality it does not work this way with the center of vital interests. Billionaires would be more than happy to send their families to Monaco, Panama or Bahamas and stay in the USA, Spain, France 365 days a year and state to the tax authorities that the center of the vital interest is in Monaco-Ville, Casco Viejo en Panama or Nassau. As far as I feel and see - Spanish economy (not a surprise) is severely damaged by Covid 19 and they are looking for new candidates for the tax sacrifice. I heard that Spain is recording now passport data of all passengers arriving to the country in order to keep the record of the time people spend in Spain (for the tax purposes). Since they get more and more socialists and populists in the government - they have plans to introduce changes in the wealth tax law and etc… My advice is to consider Portugal or try to keep low profile in Spain - do not open accounts in Spain, use Maltese mobile phone number, come to Spain by airplane for 183 days and rest come to France and take fast train in and out so you will not be in the database…
P.S. Next year I believe you would be able to buy a house in Spain for 1/2 of today’s value

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Thanks for you reply! You make a good point - the reality may be different than the law. I wouldn’t want to have to go to court, of course. Another good point - billionaires have easy ways to access loopholes. Interesting that they may now be recording passport info - something to consider! Lots to think about .

This doesn’t work if you have to pay utilities.
All Spanish telecom/electricity/gas companies require a Spanish IBAN.
Even N26 had to begin offering Spanish account numbers due to this limitation.
The EU rule that you can use any EU IBAN doesn’t seem to apply for utilities.

Hi - Thank you for your reply. We were thinking of getting a spanish bank account - but only keeping the bare minimum in it. Just enough for utilities and mortgage payments. Then just using revolut linked to our maltese bank accounts for everything else? At least that would limit the amount that the spanish taxman could take if there ever was an issue?

If they consider you to be a tax resident of Spain - they will have right to claim tax on the income that came to your Revolute or Maltese account