News / Europe

    Spanish Businesses Fret Over VAT Hike

    Tourists walk past Spain's former Banco Espanol de Credito in Madrid, August 28, 2012. Tourists walk past Spain's former Banco Espanol de Credito in Madrid, August 28, 2012.
    x
    Tourists walk past Spain's former Banco Espanol de Credito in Madrid, August 28, 2012.
    Tourists walk past Spain's former Banco Espanol de Credito in Madrid, August 28, 2012.
    Caroline Arbour
    SEVILLE — Spain’s standard value-added tax will jump from 18-21 percent on September 1, and the reduced rate will rise two percent, the sharpest increase in the country’s history. The hike is expected to plunge Spain deeper into recession - at least initially - and opposition to the measure is widespread.

    Braving the economic storm, Fernando Vázquez Rojas opened three restaurants in the past four years in Seville, where clients can dine for under 20 euros per person - a bit more than $25.

    Business has been especially good at the location on Torneo Street, but he has felt the pinch of decreased consumer spending, with revenues falling since April by "15-20 percent, depending on the moment,” said Rojas.

    Tax on a meal in a restaurant is set to increase two percent, from 8-10 percent, on September 1. Rojas is not worried. He said, “I am lucky. I increase the prices with the taxes and the price is two percent more. Maybe 20 cents, 50 cents per person. It is not a significant increase in prices.”

    But the change in the reduced VAT rate will also apply to housing, transportation, eyeglasses, tickets to museums and hotel stays, among other things. The standard VAT rate, which is added on to the price of most products and services, will rise from 18-21 percent.  

    Some items, like school supplies, will now fall into another category and be taxed 13 percent more. And that is certainly a significant difference for a country that once had one of the lowest tax rates in Europe.

    Economist Javier Díaz-Giménez, of IESE Business School in Madrid, said "the highest rates are 23 percent in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and now Spain is certainly moving above the average and getting closer to the maximum.”

    Part of the austerity package announced in July by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the tax increase is expected to bring about $25 billion into government coffers during the next two years - money Madrid desperately needs to hit tough European deficit targets.

    Hike runs into opposition

    But the measure has been met with fierce opposition.

    The president of the national association of financial advisers, Antonio Durán-Sindreu, told Spain’s public television that the tax increases will mean "death by asphyxiation" for business, and that the government should have tried to stimulate consumption.

    Instead, Spanish consumers will spend less, said Javier Díaz-Giménez. "I do not think anybody will win. I think some people will lose more than others. The tax burden, of any tax, is not borne equally by everybody."

    Díaz-Giménez said higher taxes affect the poor disproportionately, and the tax burden increases by age.

    Cutting corners

    Pensioner Manuel Chaparro said he will cut back where he can, by eating out and driving less often.

    And that is bad news for businesses.

    Spain's tourism industry foresees losses of about $2.5 million annually, affecting tens of thousands of jobs.

    The automotive sector vehicle sales during the remaining months of this year will drop by 25,000.

    Many retailers, like the clothing chain Mango, have announced they will lower prices and absorb the cost of the higher tax to avoid losing sales.

    Fernando Vázquez Rojas believes that for his restaurant the impact will be temporary, lasting maybe two months.

    Vázquez Rojas is somewhat of a rarity - a risk-taking optimist in a country where hope and confidence in the future right now is in short supply.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.