What Spain’s Proposed ‘Google Tax’ Means for its New Economy

How the Spanish Stability Program is tapping new sources of tax revenue.

Will Spain Pass the 'Google Tax?'
Mariano Roca López

Mariano Roca López

June 5, 2018 03:30 PM

The Spanish government recently sent an update of the Spanish Stability Program for 2018-2021 to the European authorities in Brussels. This new update would raise certain Spanish Social Security pensions by 1.6 percent this year and by 1.5 percent next year, at an estimated cost of 1,500 million euros in 2018 and 1,800 million euros in 2019.

Note that, although the Spanish economy is slowly recovering, it is still under surveillance. It seems that the raise was a condition set by some non-governing parties to grant their approval and consequently reach the majority needed in the Spanish Parliament to approve this year’s general state budgets.

To cover this increase of public spending—and avoid a major imbalance of public finances—the Spanish government has proposed the adoption of new taxes, including a tax on digital services. This new tax, according to the Spanish government, would allow an increase in revenues of 600 million euros in 2018 and 1,500 million euros in 2019.

This tax on digital services, also known as the “Google tax,” aims to tax large digital companies, such as Google and Amazon, for their benefits effectively generated in Spain. In other words, the purpose is to tax up to 5 percent of the invoicing of digital services such as intermediation, advertising, or the sale of data to companies—services that are the most difficult to capture by the current tax systems. It is worth mentioning that there is, at least in Spain, a major consensus in favor of this proposal among the key parties, as they believe that this Google tax is a firm step towards taxing all kinds of businesses evenly, so that the tax pressure is not only born by the so-called “old economy.”

As mentioned by the Spanish government, the new tax will only apply to companies with a high amount of annual revenue, although the concrete thresholds have not yet been defined. Román Escolano, the Spanish economy minister, explained in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council held in Sofia (Bulgaria) this month that the tax will be aligned with what other major European countries such as Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom have already approved. This also means that they are not willing to wait for the results of the ECOFIN and the OECD debates currently being held on this potential new tax.

In terms of timing, Escolano said that the experts of the Spanish Tax Agency are already working on the design of the new tax. The Spanish government intends that all the parliamentary groups approve the measure without discrepancies and thus hasten the process so that it can enter into force by 2019—or even this year.

Everything suggests that this new tax is going to come through one way or another. So far the details of this new tax (tax rates, taxpayers, thresholds, etc.) are still unknown, but I believe that we will start to know more about it in the following months.


Mariano Roca is a tax and private client practitioner focused on corporate and individuals advice (specialized in tax, wealth, and inheritance advice for HNWI). He began his professional career at Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira from 1997 until 2012. In 2012, he joined KPMG from 2012 until 2015, where he co-led the family business and private client practice in the Barcelona, Girona, Balearic Islands, and Andorra offices. In January 2016, he joined Marco Legal, Abogados & Economistas, leading as a partner in the firm’s tax department. Mariano has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2013 and won the Barcelona “Lawyer of the Year” award for Tax Law in 2014 and for Family Law in 2015. He was once again awarded “Lawyer of the Year” in Tax Law in Barcelona for 2018.

Related Articles

Paying the Price in P.R.

by Best Lawyers

Isis Carballo-Irigoyen discusses discuss intergovernmental relations, opportunity zones, and why a move to Puerto Rico to ease your tax burden likely won’t be as simple as you might think.

An Interview With McConnell Valdés

Baraona Fischer & Cia on the Changes Coming to Tax Law in Chile

by Best Lawyers

Juan Manuel Baraona of the 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award-winner for Tax Law in Chile discusses forthcoming regulations, career highlights, and his secrets to success in an interview with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer.

Baraona Fischer & Cia LFOTY

Lecher Pays

by Ann E. Evanko and Katherine L. Wood

Can social change be sped up via legislation? A key provision of the recent tax-law overhaul, clearly written with #MeToo in mind, suggests it can.

Social Change Amid #MeToo

Opening Pandora's Box in Portuguese Tax Law

by Best Lawyers

Diogo Ortigão Ramos discusses Cuatrecasas' 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award for tax law in Portugal.

Cuatrecasas Law Firm of the Year Interview

Monica Biringer and Firoz Ahmed on Canada's Changing Tax Practice

by Best Lawyers

The attorneys from Canada's 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" winning Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt look at their achievements over the past year.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt Interview

A Master in Defending the Accused

by Best Lawyers

The relentless pursuit of justice when everything is on the line.

Patrick A. Mullin

Tax Saving Opportunities under Puerto Rico Incentives

by Alexis R. González-Pagani

Puerto Rico offers a variety of attractive incentives packages that cover multiple industry sectors.

Tax Saving Opportunities

Q&A with Konstantin Mikhel at Vlasova Mikhel & Partners

by Best Lawyers

A Q&A with Konstantin Mikhel of Vlasova Mikhel & Partners about his experiences and the legal field in Belarus.

Konstantin Mikhel

Recent Case Law on Cross-Border Reorganizations

by Marie-Hélène Raffin

The Euro Park decision is bound to facilitate the application of the French favorable tax regime to cross border mergers and spin-offs.

Cross-Border Reorganizations

Trending Articles

The Best Lawyers in Spain™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Announcing Spain's recognized lawyers for 2023.

Flag of Spain

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

The Best Lawyers in Chile™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms in Chile.

White star in blue box beside white box with red box on bottom

Thirteen Years of Excellence

by Best Lawyers

For the 13th consecutive year, “Best Law Firms” has awarded the most elite and talented law firms across the country through a thorough and trusted data review process.

Red, white and blue pipes and writing on black background

The 2023 Best Lawyers in Portugal™

by Best Lawyers

Announcing the elite group of lawyers recognized in Portugal for 2023.

Green and red Portuguese flag

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Peru™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Honoring our awarded lawyers for 2023 in Peru.

Red and white stripes with green leaf symbol

The Best Lawyers in Spain™ 2022

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms.

The Best Lawyers in Spain™ 2022

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?


Rewriting 𝙃𝙀𝙍𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 One Verdict at a Time

by Justin Smulison

Athea Trial Lawyers was formed only a year ago by several prestigious lawyers seeking justice for their clients, and together they are making history.

Six female lawyers sitting in office

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Strength in Numbers: When Partnering Up May Be Best in Whistleblower Litigation

by Justin Smulison

Whistleblower claims make headlines when they result in multimillion-dollar settlements. But the journey to the courtroom is characterized by complexity and requires time and resources. Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams partner and The Best Lawyers in America awardee Michael R. Williams discusses when and why partnerships between counsel will strengthen whistleblower litigation.

A Blue Person in the Middle of White People

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Announcing the 2022 "Best Law Firms" Rankings

by Best Lawyers

The 2022 “Best Law Firms” publication includes all “Law Firm of the Year” recipients, national and metro Tier 1 ranked firms and editorial from thought leaders in the legal industry.

The 2022 Best Law Firms Awards