How to declare freelancer VAT in Spain

I am no expert on Spanish taxes. However, I’ve been filing my own taxes as autónoma for awhile now, for better or for worse, and I thought I would document how I do quarterly freelancer VAT filings in case it might help others.

VAT stands for “value added tax.” It is known as “IVA” in Spain, which stands for “impuesto al valor agregado.” It is essentially a sales tax, and I’ll refer to it as such in this article.

Here I’ll explain how I fill out my quarterly freelancer VAT declaration (autónoma), known as the form 303

If you have any suggestions or notice any mistakes in the way I am filing things, I would love to know! Please comment below, or write to us at

Whenever you issue an invoice to a client, you have to also charge the corresponding sales tax (VAT). But, that money doesn’t belong to you. You have to hand it over to the government once every quarter. However, you are allowed to keep some of it, by demonstrating qualifying business expenses where you already paid sales tax. Sales tax paid on business purchases can be deducted from VAT owed.

The purpose of this filing is to report how much sales tax (VAT) you’ve collected from your clients during the quarter and need to return to the government (or not). So, for this filing you just need to add up how much you owe and subtract how much you paid as part of your expenses.

It has to be filed within the first 20-ish days after the end of each three-month period. For example, the first quarter ends at the end of March, so the filing for Q1 needs to be done at the beginning of April. If you don’t file your freelancer VAT during this period you will pay hefty fines, so make sure to file on time every time!

Note that in addition to the quarterly freelancer VAT 303 filing: 

  • Everyone in Spain needs to file their annual declaración de la renta once per year between April and June (check out our previous article on that). This is especially crucial to do on time for autónomos because it’s our chance to claim all of our business expenses (whether or not they included VAT) and deduct them from our taxable income.
  • Optionally, you can also do a quarterly IRPF filing in order to get your money back from your IRPF retention sooner (or go ahead and pay what you owe without building it up until the end of the year.).

This article won’t go into any of that. We’re just going to focus on the form 303 for freelancer VAT, which you must file every single quarter.

WARNING: This is how I file my 303 which may or may not be correct, and your situation could be different than mine and require extra or different steps. Please do your own research on your tax obligations and do NOT blindly follow these steps! If you make a mistake on your tax filings it could be expensive for you. You’ve been warned.

That said, here are the steps I follow:

Step 1.  Getting my numbers together.

The first thing is just compiling all of my income and expense information for the quarter. I use a Google sheet.

“Income” tab:  I input the totals from my outbound invoices on the first tab, and the values I put in the grey column auto-populate the other columns. I make sure the figures match what are on my invoices. That way when I’m filling out the 303 online, I have all the figures I need handy without having to refer to the individual invoices.

“Expenses” tab: I download all my bank transactions from the quarter and copy and paste them into this tab. (If there are any bank transactions that are not business expenses, I delete them). You should adjust the columns in your spreadsheet to match the format that your bank transactions export into. Create your own template to make it as easy as possible to copy everything over each quarter.

I then categorize each expense and add the VAT rate if it applies. All I need for the 303 form is the grand total of VAT paid during the quarter.  

I still keep all other expenses here to use for my IRPF filings later, but I sort the items by “VAT amount” and only include those that had VAT for the purpose of the 303 filing.

Step 2. Fill out the 303 form online.

This is actually the easy part, as long as you know how to navigate the Agencia Tributaria online platform.

  1. Sign in to the Sede Electronica.
  2. Go to: Impuestos y tasas> IVA > Modelo 303. IVA. Autoliquidación
  3. Click on the “@” sign under “Tramites”
  4. Go to “Presentación ejercicio [YEAR]”
  5. Click on the yellow “@” sign to use your Clave PIN to fill out the form

Fill out your NIE and Name, then – if you’re like me – say “NO” to everything except for “Tributa exclusivamente en régimen general?”

Sample of the form for filing your freelancer VAT

On the next page, put your total income (the total of all of your invoices, before IVA) in the row that corresponds to the amount of VAT you need to pay in your industry. In my case it’s 21%. It will automatically calculate the IVA. Make sure it corresponds to what it says on your spreadsheet.

Then in the next section, that’s where you’ll put your expenses that include VAT.

  • I always put everything under “Por cuotas soportadas en operaciones interiores corrientes”
  • Under “base” I put the total amount of my relevant expenses that included VAT.
  • Under “cuota” I put the total amount of VAT that I’ve calculated (even though it may have been at different rates depending on the type of expense. Food and transportation is only 10%, for example, while office supplies are 21%).
Annotations and instructions on a freelancer VAT form

Step 3: Select how you want to pay your freelancer VAT

In my case, the second page of the 303 is not relevant. So.. that takes me straight on to page 3: payment. On the third page you need to say how you’re going to pay. If you owe money (which I always do) your two options are basically “ingresar” (pay it all now) or “aplazar” (make payments over time).

If you ingresar, you can click on “obtener NRC” and that will take you to the page to pay. Once you input your bank account info and pay, the NRC field will get automatically filled out.

If you “aplazar” you will be taken to a page where it asks you to give an explanation for why you want to aplazar. You can put anything there, I don’t think they read it. (I have put “tengo facturas pendientes de cobrar” and that worked).

You will also need to put the number of payments you want to split it into and choose a date in the future for the payments to start. If this date is too far in the future, they will likely not grant you the date you request. (Note: I did not “aplazar” at the time I made these instructions, so I was not able to document each detailed step.)

Step 4: File your freelancer VAT!

When all this is done, you’ll say “OK” or “Next” or whatever and be taken back to the form 303. You may want to look over everything one more time before the next step, because there’s no going back. If everything looks good, then you can go to the upper right and click on “Firmar y enviar”.

You’ll need to click a box saying you agree and then send it off. That’s it!

Again, make sure to always get this done before the tax filing deadline, or you will have to pay hefty fines!

I hope this was helpful. Good luck with your filing!

By Shaheen Samavati, co-founder of VeraContent & SpainGuru

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