Autonomo expenses guide

What can you claim?

It would be nice to think that, like a British MP, anything is recoverable on expenses as an autonomo but the rules are not overly generous particularly to the independent autonomo working from home.

This guide takes a look at some of the general issues surrounding autonomo expenses as well as some of the specific categories that are often the subject of expense claims.  You could also take a look at a second article - allowable business expenses.

General expenses considerations

 

Nothing can be claimed without a valid invoice, which means one with the supplier's name, CIF (business identification number), date, IVA, description of goods or service supplied and your name and NIE.*

Expenses can only be claimed if they are incurred in relation to the autonomo's trade or activities. Mostly such expenses are easily identifiable and obvious (e.g. stock if you are trader or subscription dues for professionals) but can be problematic in the case of items which have both a business and private use element. This problem is discussed more below.

Note that Spanish tax law is not prescriptive about what is and what is not allowable i.e. many of the "rules" you hear about are just accepted ways of applying the general rule and are not set down in law. Those operating the system know what claims the Agencia Tributaria view as acceptable because of the results of tribunals and investigations over the years but there is no hard and fast rule book.

Goods and services bought online (e.g. things like website hosting) are reclaimable exactly like those bought offline but again only with a proper invoice. Similarly anything imported can be claimed if it is for business use but care must be taken over the VAT treatment (see Autonomo VAT guide).

Expenses commonly claimed

Leaving aside the obvious cost of goods for any autonomos selling products, these are some of the other things autonomos typically claim with some additional detail for the more controversial or complex categories:

> Social security contributions

> Accounting and tax services

> Trade or professional association fees/subscriptions

> Rent

If the autonomo has an office, shop or other premises then the rent is allowable, so long as there is a proper IVA invoice. Note that rent paid will be subject to retencion deductions, which have to be paid over to the Tax Office quarterly as advanced income tax payments on behalf of the landlord.

> Heating, light and water

Utilities and insurance can be claimed on business premises.

> Office furniture and supplies

> Software and internet services

> Advertising and promotional materials

> Car or van

If a car or van has been bought specifically for the autonomo's business and is used exclusively for it, then the cost is allowable. The VAT is reclaimable right away but the allowable expense for income tax purposes is spread over 8 years (12,5% of the cost is deducted every year). If an autonomo is using his or her personal car for work purposes then the cost of the car is not generally allowable even on a proportional basis.

> Car insurance, maintenance and service costs

If a car is allowable as a capital expense (see above) then these running costs will also be claimable. Otherwise they are not because it is assumed they would have been incurred anyway for personal use.

> Petrol

If you get a proper invoice for petrol you put in your car for a business journey then this can be claimed even if your car is not deemed exclusively autonomo use.

> Other travel

Train, taxi, parking, flights etc are allowable if demonstrably for business purposes but again proper invoices in your name are required.

> Telephone and internet

If a mobile, telephone line or internet connection is used primarily for the autonomo business it is generally allowable. If you have a private phone line and a private mobile besides your business one then the business costs will be allowable. As always, proper invoices in the name of the autonomo are required.

> Entertaining

Generally business meals where clients or other business contacts are present would be allowable but with a proper invoice being required.