Autonomo or SL?

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10 Apr 2010 00:00 by exmachina Star rating. 7 posts Send private message

 I need to set up a company however I don't know if I should set up an autonomo or an SL...(or even set up a company overseas)

The thing is I don't have a traditional business or any clients in Spain and I earn my income from websites based in the US. I receive payments from mostly US based companies and from providing services to people worldwide.


Anyone got any experience in this field?


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10 Apr 2010 20:04 by Sanchez1 Star rating. 853 posts Send private message

Why bother with the expense of setting up an SL/autonomo when you can set up a Gibraltar exempt company and pay no tax (as long as you don't live or do business in Gibraltar)?  There's quite a bit of info on the web if you do a Google, including here.

I know a few people who have closed their Spanish SL because of the cost an hassle and have either set up in Gib or incorporated in the UK.


Read my blog: Spain Money Saving Tips and Offers 

Use TransferWise to send money abroad. A lot cheaper than the bank and other online currency exchanges!.



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10 Apr 2010 20:20 by exmachina Star rating. 7 posts Send private message

 Thanks..checking it out now...

i assume then that my personal tax liability would just be on what the company pays me


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10 Apr 2010 21:16 by bakeja Star rating in Manilva. 49 posts Send private message

 Ex Machina - as you are providing your internet services in Spain (even though the clients are foreign) then you have to be legally registered to work here.  As you say this could be either as autonomo/self-employed or as an employee of your own SL company.  The SL company route is expensive to set up and administer and does not save you any social security costs and will only save you income tax if you earn a lot (certainly 50k or more).

Setting up a foreign company to put the business through is an option too of course.  It would not alter the fact that, to be legal, you would still have to be either autonomo (invoicing your company as your "client") or your company's only Spanish employee.  If you wanted to take the risk of working in Spain without going legal (as so many people do and seem to get away with it) you would have to keep your new company secret and be very careful about moving money into Spain or within range of the tax office OR declare a salary and / or dividends from the company but say when challenged that you don't do anything for the company on Spanish soil.

The company could be in Gib but the old non resident tax free Gibraltarian company has been done away with now.  At least you can't set up a new one.  You have to set up an ordinary Gib company and pay Gib corporation tax on the profits (at 12% I think).  There are lots of alternative locations ranging from the tax free havens such as the British Virgin Islands to the low tax countries in the EU which are not classified as havens (Ireland, Cyprus).


 Advoco Law & Accountancy

Latest article: Guide to Spain's Autonomo System

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10 Apr 2010 21:36 by exmachina Star rating. 7 posts Send private message


It's not really about avoiding paying tax but of reducing the potential tax burden before it gets to be an issue. From reading what you wrote It sees that an offshore company and an autonamo  in Spain could be the way to go.



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15 Apr 2010 18:27 by spainmamma Star rating in Mijas . 36 posts Send private message

Just a point to note and it may not apply to the nature of your business, but when we were setting up we spent a lot of time researching and debating SL versus autonomo ... in the end we decided to go for SL purely because we were advised by several professionals that if we were and SL and fell into debt then the state couldn't take our personal assets ... if you are autonomo then you are personally liable for your companies debt.

_______________________ Online shopping for pregnancy and baby in Spain

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17 Apr 2010 17:03 by mariadecastro Star rating in Algeciras (Cadiz). 9327 posts Send private message

Legal Questions? Speak to Maria Direct

You might find this interesting reading:


Maria L. de Castro, JD, MA



El blog de Maria

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25 Mar 2014 09:16 by snap Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

I am in the same situation. Online business with all income being generated outside of Spain. Did you find a good solution in the meantime, exmachina?

The problem with offshore companies, at least as I understand it, is that a some point the money needs to flow back to Spain and will be taxed. So I don't see real advantage. Does anyone have any thoughts?


This message was last edited by snap on 25/03/2014.

This message was last edited by snap on 25/03/2014.

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25 Mar 2014 21:04 by GuyT Star rating. 494 posts Send private message

@snap. why can't the money flow somewhere else and you just borrow against it? that's not income. square the books when you fall off your perch and leave the residue to your kids somewhere where they haven't heard of income or inheritance tax. 

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