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July 13, 2023
2023-1228

Spain | Obligation to submit the plastic packaging tax ledgers by the end of July 2023; Spanish Tax Authority clarifies interpretative issues

  • The Spanish plastic packaging tax (PPT) became effective as of 1 January 2023, obligating taxpayers to register and file periodical PPT returns.
  • However, taxpayers were given flexibility to postpone, up to July 2023, the e-submission of the PPT ledgers corresponding to the first half of the year.
  • As these records are the Tax Authority's primary source of information, companies are now urged to prepare and file the PPT ledgers. Accuracy and completeness of the plastic information is key to minimize risks of being audited and challenged by the Tax Authority.
  • By 30 June 2023, the Tax Authority had already published 184 binding rulings, clarifying some of the interpretative issues raised by taxpayers.

Executive summary

The Spanish plastic packaging tax (PPT) entered into effect as of 1 January 2023 and electronic submission of PPT ledgers became mandatory as of 31 July 2023. The following legislative and interpretative texts govern the tax:

Through Ministerial Order HFP/1314/2022, the Tax Authority granted taxpayers flexibility to postpone until the end of July 2023 filing electronic submissions of PPT ledgers attributable to the first half of the year, which ordinarily would have been due monthly or quarterly. This postponement was well received by the business community as most of the taxpayers (manufacturers and intra-European Union (EU) purchasers of in-scope products) did not have a system in place to properly gather and manage all the information required to prepare the PPT ledgers.

The Tax Authority has since published 184 binding rulings in which the General Directorate of Taxes has tried to clarify the interpretative issues raised by taxpayers.

Detailed discussion

Deadlines to electronically submit monthly/quarterly ledgers

Special PPT implementation deadline: By 31 July 2023, taxpayers must electronically submit the monthly/quarterly ledgers corresponding to the first half of 2023.

After that, the ordinary PPT deadlines will apply:

  • Taxpayers under a quarterly filing obligation: The deadline for submitting the ledger corresponding to the third quarter of 2023 will be 31 October 2023. The next deadline will be 31 January 2024, for the submission of the ledger corresponding to the fourth quarter of 2023.
  • Taxpayers under monthly filing obligation: The deadline for submitting ledgers corresponding to the July and August will be 30 September. It is important to note that although the deadline for submitting July ledgers is deferred to the end of September, the obligation to file the return and pay the tax is not deferred, so the July PPT return will need to be filed by 20 August. The next deadline for ledgers will be 31 October when it will be mandatory to submit the PPT record for September.

According to the Ministerial Order, intra-EU purchasers are exempt from the obligation to submit records for filing periods in which no tax is payable. However, the Authorities have explained that records must be kept and provided if required by the tax office within the framework of a potential audit.

Why it is important to properly prepare and timely e-submit ledgers

Annex V of the Ministerial Order HFP/1314/2022 sets out the formats of the ledgers, which are different for manufacturers and for intra-EU purchasers. As the ledgers need to be submitted electronically, the Authorities have provided a template (in comma-separated values or CSV file format) in their website, though the template is not totally consistent with the format displayed in the Ministerial Order.

According to this template, for each relevant transaction, intra-EU purchasers will be obliged to register the date of the transaction, the type of transaction, the kind of taxable product, the tax regime (e.g., a reference to any applicable exemption), the total weight of the product, the weight of the non-recycled part of the product, the name and identification number of the counterparty or any other additional explanatory comments.

The data to be registered in the ledgers are the primary source of information for the Authorities to ensure that the taxpayer is declaring the tax properly. Therefore, failing to submit ledgers, submitting them late, providing inconsistent information in the ledgers and tax returns or making other quality errors in the data may lead to inquiries from the Tax Office, tax audits and potential tax assessments and penalties.

Once a ledger has been e-submitted, the taxpayers may only amend the submission until the end of the same filing period. After that, any potential amendment must be made and validated by the Authority itself, with the taxpayer providing evidence to support the change.

Binding ruling consultations

From January to June 2023, the Spanish General Directorate of Taxes has published 184 binding rulings, covering different PPT interpretative issues. Recurring issues analyzed in these rulings include:

  • Confirmation of products within or out of the scope of the tax
  • Condition of manufacturer of taxable products (either of final packages or of semi-elaborated materials)
  • Formal obligation details, such as invoicing, ledgers, acceptable proof for the application of exemptions, etc.
  • Taxability of the biodegradable and compostable plastics
  • Nontaxability of bags used for trash, waste, and other elements not qualifying as merchandise
  • Type of evidence needed to prove the condition of a reusable package
  • Restrictive position on making summary entries in ledgers
  • Clarifications on reimbursement procedures for products destroyed or inadequate for use
  • Taxability of labels; e.g., self-adhesive labels (not taxable) vs."shrink sleeve labels" and "wrap around labels" (taxable)
  • Packages used for active ingredients benefit from exemption for medicines (amending previous inputs provided by the Authorities)

The Authorities are regularly updating their databases with new rulings, so it is highly advisable to monitor responses and guidelines on points that remain open to different interpretations. The Authorities are prioritizing the issuance of these responses (terms are shorter than usual), so filing a binding ruling application may be a good option for companies facing interpretative challenges with regard to the PPT treatment of their transactions and products.

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For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:

Ernst & Young Abogados (Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla)

Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Carolyn Wright, legal editor

 
 

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