Spain Explained

Deductions from 3% retention in Spain

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 05:40 pm.

The 3% retention is the amount that is kept back by the Spanish Tax Authority after the sale of a property by a non-resident. It is used to pay the Spanish Capital Gains Tax and ensures that funds remain available.

Ábaco sometimes receive notifications from the Spanish Tax Authority of retentions that are being returned. Sue Partridge, tax adviser, noticed that there was something rather unusual about some of these notifications. ‘I could see that a list of items had been subtracted from the 3% retention in addition to the Spanish Capital Gains Tax. There was very little to indicate what these deductions were for,’ explains Sue.

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In true detective style, Sue and colleagues investigated further to discover that these were deductions from different Spanish administrative departments. Complementary tax, missed social security payments, health service charges had all been taken off the 3%.

One recurring deduction was for the amount of 105€. Why should so many people mysteriously owe the same amount? ‘It turned out that the 105€ was a traffic fine,’ says Sue, ‘Trafico, like the other departments, had got wind of the fact that these non-residents had sold their property in Spain, that money was available and were busy reclaiming the money they were allegedly owed in fines.’

Sue uses the word ‘allegedly’ because at this late stage it is difficult to check their authenticity. ‘I’m afraid there is no appeal at this stage. The money has been deducted and the case is closed as far as these Spanish government departments are concerned.’

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In some cases it was just a small deduction. In others it was a significant proportion of the anticipated 3% retention. In one case a non-resident was due 3,000€ but ended up with 800€. Over 2,000€ had been deducted for a complementary tax payment when the property was first purchased.

Particularly worrying is that there is no means of checking whether you are likely to be similarly ‘hit’ by government departments swooping on your 3% retention. You just have to wait. Sue does have some advice though, ‘Just be conscious of the fact that they are sharing information. Don’t expect your debts to go unnoticed, whatever department it is.’

To help navigate the bureaucracy of the Spanish tax system, our dedicated advisers are on hand to help at every step of the way. Contact us and we will offer you a free consultation without obligation.

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Susa Copus

8 July, 2020 5:58 pm

In Almeria the values of property has definitely gone down by thousands – not up

Oscar Paoli

9 July, 2020 9:45 am

Thank you for your input.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers


18 June, 2021 8:16 am

Does the age relief, over 65, apply to non residents?

Oscar Paoli

18 June, 2021 9:20 am

Hi Eric,
If you are referring that if you are over 65 and non-resident in Spain if there is no need to apply the 3% deduction unfortunately this is not the case, you still have to make the 3% retention as non-resident regardless your age.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

5 February, 2022 2:17 pm

How to get retention tax that hasn’t been paid after selling a property in 20019

Oscar Paoli

8 February, 2022 9:39 am

Thank you for contactings us. Not sure we understand your query correctly, could you please clarify?
Thank you very much in advance.
Kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Julie white

17 February, 2023 3:30 pm

Agent said we weren’t due anything back as we owed the tax office money.. couldn’t explain what money as we’d always paid our non residents tax and there was no debt in the property when we sold it. Not getting anywhere with trying to pursue it.

Oscar Paoli

19 February, 2023 1:37 pm

Hi Julie,
Would you wish for us to check your situation in more detail do not hesitate to contact us at or phone us at 0034966703750.
Best regards,
Ábaco Advisers