Spanish taxpayers declare assets held overseas worth nine percent of GDP

New regulations unearth 87.7 billion euros in property, bonds, deposits and shares held abroad

Spaniards and foreigners resident in Spain have declared assets held abroad in the form of bonds, shares, real estate and bank accounts of 87.7 billion euros, equivalent to nine percent of the country’s GDP.

As part of the government’s assault on tax evasion and fraud based on legislation passed last year, the Tax Agency now requires all taxpayers in Spain to declare assets worth more than 50,000 euros in any of four different categories of investment.

According to figures provided Wednesday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, 131,411 taxpayers declared assets held overseas, of which 129,925 were individuals and the rest companies. Individuals declared 67.1 billion euros and companies 20.6 billion.

A European Union summit on Wednesday approved measures to crack down on tax fraud and evasion. “Spain’s commitment against tax fraud is total,” Rajoy told a news conference in Brussels. Spain is estimated to have a huge black market, which could amount to about a quarter of its official GDP. “The EU is going to make life difficult for tax dodgers and lead the world on this,” Rajoy said.

The government launched an amnesty for tax evaders last year under which they could declare assets held abroad that had been previously undeclared, paying a fine of only 10 percent of the value of their holdings. The program unearthed 40 billion euros in previously undeclared assets. However, it swelled the state’s coffers by only 1.193 billion, when the government had been looking to raise 2.5 billion.

In an embarrassing development for Rajoy’s Popular Party government, the former PP treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, who has been implicated in the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal, availed himself of the amnesty.