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Stressing over paperwork

It has recently become necessary for foreigners to declare any overseas holdings in cash, property or goods with a value of over 50,000€. This has caused a bit of a stir amongst some of our compatriots. I was checking to make sure that there wasn't any small print which affected Maggie or me. The stories of problems of interpretation, using the form etc. were legion.

Recently I completed my annual tax return. I was happy to do so because this year I got a rebate. Whilst I was in financial mode I sifted through a few of the expat websites to check that my Teachers Pension, a government pension, as distinct from the state pension, was not eligible for Spanish tax as it has to be taxed at source in the UK. No problem. I seem to be perfectly legal.

As I read I realised that lots of Britons who are living on their UK state pension here in Spain want to be squeaky clean and declare their pensions to the Spanish tax people. As the amounts they get are covered by the Spanish tax allowances this is basically a paper exercise as they would pay no Spanish tax. Consequently the Spanish tax people aren't keen on giving them the necessary paperwork to send to the UK Revenue. Too much like hard work.

We haven't had much paperwork dealing problems recently but Spanish bureaucracy can be a nightmare.

Yesterday I heard on the news that several victims of the May 2011 earthquake in Lorca, only a few kilometres from here, had been asked to take their documentation to the local town hall to claim back the rents they are having to pay for temporary accommodation. Apparently most of them had their first three months rent paid from the disaster fund but, since then, nothing.

When an official was quizzed as to why the process had taken so long and about the shame of leaving earthquake victims to fend for themselves the reaction was that 75% of the paperwork was in some way inaccurate. Anyone who has ever dealt with an official Spanish office will know that you are always "one document short" but the obvious point that if 75% of people weren't getting the process right then there was something wrong with the process didn't seem to occur to anyone.


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