#Human Rights
Petitions Committee of the European Parliament

A request for an urgent review of Spain's new requirement for the reporting of assets held outside Spain and the compatibilty of that requirement (as set out in Law 7/2012 and Decreto Real 1558/2012) with EU Treaties and Laws, particularly those relating to non-descrimination, privacy and free movement of persons and capital.

The Petitioners welcome Spain's efforts to tackle corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. They believe, however, that the measures now being adopted by the application of Decreto Real 1558/2012 are too blunt a tool to do this efficiently: the aim of any fiscal policy should be to pluck the tax-paying goose so gently that it will continue to lay its golden eggs.

The Petitioners believe that a better, sharper, tool could be forged by building on existing measures such as the EU Savings Directive and internationally agreed information exchanges to counter these abuses while respecting individual rights to property and privacy as guaranteed by the European Union and the Spanish Constitution. In the case of EU nationals who have retired to reside in Spain, their assets are more often than not the accumulation of savings from taxed income built up over a lifetime of work in the country of their nationality and held solely to provide financial security in their final years. Their assets held outside Spain are not wealth that has been syphoned out from the Spanish economy by corrupt politicians, money launderers or tax evaders; rather the money they have brought to Spain to buy property and to fund day-to-day living costs has generated employment and has brought benefit to the Spanish economy.

The Petitioners believe that the reporting baseline asset value could be doubled or even quadrupled without adversely affecting the collection of data and its quality. Indeed reducing the volume of asset reports to be filed would have a beneficial effect by easing pressure on the Agencia Tributaria (and financial consulting companies) so allowing them to focus on and tackle any serious abuses.

The Petitioners also believe that the reporting format demanded does not recognise the various and differing ways in which assets can be held outside Spain, whether in trust funds, managed accounts, Individual Savings Accounts, Personal Equity Plans or whatever, and their differing reporting periods. Similarly earnings derived from shares can be reported at different times of the year and in a number of formats, so making any historical calculation of 'wealth' in the required manner difficult if not impossible, especially within the short time-scale allowed. (This has been recognized by the “Your Advice Europe” service to be a serious form of discrimination.)

The Petitioners believe that the penalties to be imposed for late filing, omissions or errors are disproportionate, and would, in many circumstances, be greater than the asset involved. Deliberate false filings should, of course, be dealt with - but penalties for minor errors or omissions should be capable of modulation to match the nature of the failure.

The Petitioners are concerned about the fine detail they are being required to file through financial service companies who may not properly protect their computer databases against unauthorised access, and which would thus provide information of use to internet fraudsters and scammers.

The Petitioners request the Petitions Committee and the Parliament to intervene immediately with the Spanish authorities urging them to postpone the asset reporting deadline from April 30 2013, sine die, pending adequate clarification and simplification of the reporting process. This must include assurances from the Spanish government that the process is in full compliance with relevant EU norms, Directives, etc, and well as the Spanish Constitution itself. In view of the urgency of the situation, the established asset reporting deadline being April 30, 2013, the Petitioners request the Petitions Committee to admit this petition without delay and with a view to engaging the EU Commissions as quickly as possible, in the belief that this matter should be addressed as a matter of priority by the European Court of Justice. [The Petitioners, while drawing attention to the attachments to this petition, may wish to add supplemental information in due course.]

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The Review Spain's Asset Declaration Laws (EN) petition to Petitions Committee of the European Parliament was written by Fergus Thomson and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.