Eleven town halls pay their taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency instead of the Spanish one
In a symbolical action, 11 town halls have handed in their monthly taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency and not to the equivalent Spanish entity. The Catalan Government’s body stated that it is legal, since later they will transfer the money to the Spanish Tax Agency. However, with this action, the town halls involved wanted to lend their support to “Catalonia collecting its own taxes”. In fact, the Catalan Government collecting all the taxes in Catalonia is widely asked for by a majority of the Catalan society. This week the Catalan Executive announced a programme supporting the development of its own Treasury, in order to provide the Catalan Tax Agency with muscle and experience. Furthermore the Association of Pro-Independence Town Halls asked its members to stop paying their taxes to the Spanish Tax Agency and switch to the Catalan one instead.
Barcelona (ACN).- In a symbolical action, on Thursday, 11 town halls handed in their monthly taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency instead of giving them to the equivalent Spanish entity. They used the legal formula of the one-stop shop, since by handing in the money to the Catalan Government body, it will later be transferred to the Spanish Tax Agency. However, with the action, the town halls involved wanted to lend their support to “Catalonia collecting its own taxes”. They also wanted to show the fiscal capacities of Catalonia and they asked other town halls to follow their example. They were grouped in the platform ‘Catalunya Diu Prou!’ (Catalonia Says Enough!). They announced that they will continue to do this from now on. In fact, last Tuesday, the Catalan Executive announced a programme supporting the implementation of its own Treasury, which started to be developed three months ago. A Catalan Tax Agency did already exist but in the last few months a plan has arisen to give it more muscle and experience in order to be able one day to collect all the taxes generated in Catalonia. Furthermore, the Association of Pro-Independence Town Halls asked its members to stop paying their taxes to the Spanish Tax Agency and switch to the Catalan one instead. This association currently has 663 town halls (representing almost three quarters of Catalonia’s town halls) and 36 county and provincial councils supporting Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
The Catalan Government is developing its own Treasury
The majority of the Catalan society (almost 80% according to the latest polls) supports the claim of the Catalan Government to collect all the taxes in Catalonia. This was the essential point of the economic agreement proposed by the President of the Catalan Executive and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) to the Spanish Prime Minister in late September; a proposal turned down by the Spanish Government. However, the development of a Catalan Treasury is also part of the Catalan nationalism’s plan to develop their own “state structures”. The development of such structures and the self-determination vote were the Catalan nationalists’ essential proposals in last November elections, as along with policies to recover from the economic crisis. According to the electoral results, the proposal to develop “state structures” was backed by the majority of Catalan citizens.
11 municipalities from Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona
The eleven municipalities that have handed in their taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency instead of directly doing it to the Spanish entity are Arenys de Munt (Maresme County), Llinars del Vallès (Vallès Oriental Conty), Premià de Dalt (Maresme County), Alella (Maresme County), and Gallifa (Vallès Occidental County) from the Province of Barcelona; Sant Jaume de Llierca (Garrotxa County), Ripoll (Ripollès County), Campdevànol (Ripollès County), Viladamat (Alt Empordà County), and Sant Julià del Llor i Bonmatí (Selva County) from the Province of Girona, in the North-Eastern part of Catalonia and Marçà, from the Priorat County, in the Province of Tarragona (Southern Catalonia).
“A very important gesture”
In total, the five town halls from Barcelona paid €200,000 corresponding to the taxes from March and the first quarter of the year. The five town halls from Girona handed in more than 50,000 euros, mostly corresponding to the Revenue Tax withdraw of the town hall workers. They have paid the money to the Catalan Tax Agency’s offices in Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona. “It is a very important gesture because we are telling our Government that the Catalans are no longer afraid, that we are paying our taxes here because we expect that a day will arrive when they will be able to use the money to do whatever the country needs”, stated Quim Tella, from the platform ‘Catalunya Diu Prou’.
The initiative started in October
Gallifa had already started in October to pay their taxes to the Catalan Tax Agency. In January, Alella joined them and by April there are already 11 town councils that have decided to do the same. However, no large town hall has joined the symbolical protest yet and those participating are small or medium-sized municipalities of less than 11,000 inhabitants.
A legal way of paying taxes
“We are not doing anything illegal because we are equally paying” the taxes, emphasised the Finance Councilman of Ripoll, Josep Maria Creixans. In fact, part of the protest is to show that there is a legal way to pay taxes directly to the Catalan Government and not to the Spanish Government, even though later the money is transferred to the Spanish Tax Agency anyway. The one-stop shop principle allows for such a thing, as later the public body that receives the money will transfer it to the appropriate one. The Catalan Government will thus transfer the money to the Spanish Tax Agency, following the legal framework and respecting the institutional loyalty principle. However, the lawyer for ‘Catalunya Diu Prou’ emphasised that “paying [taxes] in Catalonia is possible and now it is the Catalan Government which has to decide whether it keeps the taxes or not”.