Double Taxation Treaty (CDI) Between Spain And The United States

On the 27th November 2019, the new double taxation treaty (CDI) between Spain and the United States – agreed in July this year – came into force. 

The new agreement benefits many professionals working between the two states: with fewer taxes for investors, generating a better climate for cross-border investment.

Most importantly, the new treaty reduces taxes at source on dividends, profits and interests, and allows for tax-free transfer on pension plans.

Here are some of the fundamental changes to note:

  1. Dividends
  2. Permanent establishment
  3. Interest
  4. Capital gains
  5. Branch tax
  6. Royalties
  7. Pensions, annuities and alimony

1. Dividends: abolition of taxation at source

If the beneficial owner of the dividends is a company owner in the other ‘contracting state,’ i.e. the country of residence.

The taxation in their country of origin is annulled; provided that they own at least 80% of the voting capital of the company.

Taxation in the country of origin is also annulled if the effective beneficiary is a pension Fund. 

In all other cases:

5% of the gross dividend amount is applied if the beneficial owner is a company that directly owns at least 10% of the voting shares of the company that pays the dividend.

A maximum of 15% of the gross dividend amount is applied in all other cases.

Before the new double tax treaty came into force, the withholding tax at source was 10% if the beneficiary is a company with at least 25% of the voting shares, and 15% in all other cases.

2. Permanent establishment: minimum term

The new treaty has extended the minimum length of time for a building, construction site or installation project to be considered as a permanent establishment from 6 to 12 months. 

3. Interests

As a general rule, withholding tax on interest is eliminated. This refers to taxation on the interest generated in one of the countries when the beneficiary is the other one Before the new treaty, interest payments made to a US company were subject to a 10% withholding tax.

In the following cases, interests will be taxed in their country of origin:

  1. – If they are contingent interests of American origin and their beneficial owner is a resident in Spain. The tax rate may not exceed 10% of the gross amount.
  2. – If they are interests that constitute a surplus corresponding to a residual interest in an investment channel in securities backed by mortgages on real estate, they can be taxed in the US without any limit.

4. Capital Gains

The new treaty has eliminated taxation on capital gains from the source country. They can now only be taxed in the state of residence.

The one exception to the rule is on income derived from the transfer of shares of capital when the principal asset is real estate (directly or indirectly).

In this case, the capital gains can still be taxed within the source state as non-resident income tax.

5. Taxation on branch profits

Taxation on branch profits has been eliminated in the new treaty. Originally a 10% taxation was applied to head offices for their branch profits.

Although this taxation has been eliminated, it still retains the arrangement for authorising branch profit tax; however, it now applies the rate imposed on dividends.

6. Royalties

Taxation on royalties at source has been eliminated under the new treaty. They may now only be taxed in the beneficiary’s country of residence.

7. Pensions, annuities and alimony

When a resident in one state is a member, beneficiary or participant of a pension fund derived from the other state, the income from the pension is now subject to a zero rate tax in its country of origin.

However, tax is still applicable in the state of the beneficiary’s residence. This allows for a tax-free transfer of pension funds. 

The protocol of these modifications to the CDI also extends the scope of the exchange of information and administrative assistance between both States.

Establishing that the Contracting States can request information even if they do not need it for their own tax purposes.

Likewise, the Limitation of Benefits clause has been adapted, and as a general rule, uses the criteria that the United States has established in CDIs agreed with other third states.


If you have any questions on the Double Taxation Treaty, contact us today for a free no-obligation chat.

María Luisa de Castro

DIRECTOR

María founded CostaLuz Lawyers in 2006 and is the Firm’s Director. María is registered Lawyer number 2745 of the Cadiz Bar Association and is licensed to practice in all areas of law throughout Spain. Working closely with her team, María has developed the firm into one of the most highly regarded and trusted Spanish Law Firms acting for English speaking clients with legal problems in Spain.

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