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Catalonia readies tax agency ahead of independence vote

The institution “sets the foundation for being ready to assume more competences in the future,” Catalan tax secretary said

01 September 2017 03:29 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

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The Catalan tax agency (ATC) assumed on Friday the responsibility for collecting new duties, such as succession and donation taxes. The Catalan government thus takes a step further towards handling all duties which are currently available under Catalonia’s current autonomy status, as dictated by Spanish law. This will also set the foundation for a potential tax agency of an independent state.

From now on, the ATC will act as a tax collector for all companies owned by the Catalan government, which include some 170 public firms. The ATC will continue to send funds to the Spanish tax authorities. Yet, as Spanish and Catalan governments are set to clash over the October 1 independence referendum, the €4,5 billion that is currently transferred yearly (in the form of personal income tax, VAT and social security of the public firms) that will be managed by the ATC could become a valuable asset in the hands of the Catalan government.

  • “Who thinks that a tax agency or a social security can be created unilaterally?”

    Inés Arrimadas · Catalan Parliament opposition leader

The Catalan tax secretary, Lluís Salvadó, referred to the new competences that the ATC is taking on today as a “major leap forward" which “sets the foundation for being ready to assume more competences in the future.”

The new responsibilities adopted by the ATC today also include collecting outstanding taxes and payments, both for those concerning the Catalan government, along with those of other institutions at the regional and local level, as well as some 300,000 unpaid traffic tickets every year.

Disconnection laws

On July 28, the Catalan Parliament passed the law upon which the tax agency is created: the tax code law. It only got the votes from the pro-independence ruling coalition Together for Yes (JxS) and its main partner, the anti-capitalist CUP. All other opposition parties voted against the law.

The tax code law has been regarded as one of the so-called “disconnection laws,” which set the ground for an independent Catalonia. Catalonia’s Council of Statutory Guarantees (CGE in Catalan) ruled out some of the articles of the tax code law, and they were not included in the version of the text passed by the Catalan Parliament.

The implementation of the ATC has been widely criticized by parties opposed to Catalan independence. “Who thinks that a tax agency or a social security can be created unilaterally?” the opposition leader, Inés Arrimadas, claimed in an interview with ACN.

27 new offices

Today, the ATC also opened 14 new offices throughout the Catalan territory, in major cities and towns such as Terrassa, Sabadell, Manresa, Vic, Figueres and Reus. Moreover, 13 offices shared with other institutions also started functioning today.

There are currently 700 people working for the ATC. In August alone, 256 new workers joined the institution. It is expected that by the end of the year some 100 people more will be hired.

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  • Catalan tax secretary, Lluís Salvadó, at the inauguration of ATC new offices in Reus (by ACN)