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Controversial New Overseas Crypto Declaration Law Approved in Spain

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

The Spanish parliament has approved a controversial new law that will force Spaniards to declare their overseas crypto holdings – as part of a bid to wipe out crypto-related fraud carried out on platforms based outside the country.

Source: Adobe/Hugh O’Neill

The law, which brings crypto into the much-maligned Modelo 720 system has overcome its final hurdle – and has received approval from the Spanish parliament, the Ministry of Finance said.

The Modelo 720 system, which has previously received criticism from some others within the EU, compels Spaniards to declare their overseas bank account holdings and real estate, as well as other assets such as stocks. But crypto has now been brought under the same umbrella. Spanish legal experts have attempted to challenge the legality of Modelo 720 in European courts for over six years – but thus far to no avail.

Failure to report crypto held abroad will incur a fixed penalty of USD 5,900 per offense, according to the terms of the new law. This means that fines could stack indefinitely in the case of Spanish citizens who hold crypto on multiple overseas platforms but fail to declare them on annual forms to be submitted to Spain’s tax body.

Meanwhile, an expert has been attempting to answer the thorny question of how exactly the Spanish legal system views crypto. Per an article published by El Pais and authored by the head of the LaBE Abogados law firm Daniel Burón, a June 20, 2019, Supreme Court ruling on a bitcoin (BTC)-related case has heavy legal precedent in Spain.

In the case, the ruling judge decreed that “cryptocurrencies are not considered electronic money.”

The court also ruled that “bitcoin is nothing but a unit of account of the network that bears the same name.”

And the judge ruled that the Bitcoin network makes use of “a verified computer network” and “in this way, bitcoin is nothing but an intangible heritage asset.”

Burón added that this last fact was key in legal proceedings – and means Spanish courts would inevitably need to establish BTC or altcoin prices at the time of investment (in the case of a scam trial) in order to calculate the size of losses.

He concluded that legal requirements about electronic money and payments set out in a 2011 act “are not applicable to [crypto] operators.”
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