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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More