Retire in Spain: Is pension taxable in Spain?

Retire in Spain Is pension taxable in Spain

This guide offers a concise overview of Spain’s tax system for retirees looking to retire in Spain, focusing on pensions and financial assets. It’s designed to help expats from the US and UK navigate tax rules, ensuring a seamless transition to a fulfilling retirement in Spain.

What is the Tax Threshold on Foreign Pensions in Spain?

Generally, foreign pensions are taxable in Spain if you’re a tax resident, with taxation rates mirroring those for local income. You become a tax resident in Spain if you spend over 183 days in the country within a calendar year or if your main economic interests are in Spain.

The threshold for declaring foreign pension income stands at €22,000 annually if it’s your sole income source. However, nuances exist, particularly for US and UK nationals, due to Spain’s Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with these countries.

Multiple Income Sources

In scenarios where your earnings originate from several sources, like a pension coupled with rental income, you are required to file an annual tax declaration if:

  • Your aggregate income surpasses €12,000 annually;
  • AND, the income from the secondary source exceeds €1,500 annually.

For Americans

American expats must navigate the Spain-USA tax treaty intricacies. Most government or military pensions are exempt in Spain but taxed in the US. Social Security and private pensions (401k, IRAs) are taxable in Spain, with specific provisions for Roth IRAs being taxed as investment income at different rates.

Under the Spain-USA tax treaty (Article 21), US government pensions are typically exempt from Spanish taxes, except for dual citizens of Spain and the USA, who may be taxed by Spain. This exemption does not extend to Social Security, which is taxable in Spain. Thus, American expats with government pensions generally won’t face Spanish taxes on these pensions unless they also hold Spanish citizenship. However, such pensions remain subject to US taxation. For detailed provisions, refer to the Spain-USA tax treaty.

Make sure to consult with expert tax advisors before you decide to retire in Spain.

For UK Nationals

Post-Brexit, UK state and private pensions remain taxable in Spain, with the UK-Spain DTA (Double taxation agreement) providing relief from double taxation. Government pensions, such as those for public sector retirees, may enjoy exemptions, depending on the treaty’s interpretation.

How Much Tax Do I Need to Pay on My Pension?

Pensions in Spain are subject to progressive tax rates, ranging from 19% to 47%. The exact tax depends on your total income, including pensions, rental income, and any other sources. For UK nationals, lump-sum pension withdrawals before Spanish tax residency can offer tax advantages, given Spain’s taxation of such withdrawals as income.

Income Range (€)Tax Rate
Up to 12,45019%
12,451 – 20,20024%
20,201 – 35,20030%
35,201 – 60,00037%
60,001 – 300,00045%
Over 300,00047%
This table outlines the progressive tax rates applicable to pension income in Spain, ranging from 19% to 47%, depending on the total amount of pension received annually.

According to these tax brackets, here’s a general calculation of taxes for pensions of 30K, 50K and 80K per year

Pension Amount (€)Total Tax (€)Average Total Tax Rate (%)

These figures provide an overview of how the progressive tax system affects different pension amounts, with the average total tax rate increasing as the pension amount increases. However, it’s important to note that these calculations are simplified and actual tax liabilities could vary based on individual circumstances, including applicable deductions, allowances, and specific provisions under double taxation agreements.

Tax Withheld at Source

This practice refers to the withholding tax directly from pension payments before they are disbursed to pensioners in Spain. This means that a portion of the pension is deducted and paid to the tax authorities as income tax in advance. Typically, pensions in Spain are subject to withholding tax at an average rate of 7.7%, with this rate fluctuating based on the specific pension amount. Notably, the most substantial state pensions encounter a minimum withholding tax rate of 19%.

Personal Allowances

The Spanish tax system grants enhanced personal allowances to pensioners. Specifically, individuals aged 65 to 74 are eligible for an annual allowance of €6,700, while those over 75 are entitled to an allowance of €8,100. Additionally, pensioners may benefit from disability allowances if applicable, offering further reductions based on the degree of disability.

Managing Cash and Other Assets

Cash in bank accounts is not directly taxed, but interest earned is taxable as income. For Americans, selling property before moving to Spain is advisable to avoid capital gains tax. Understanding the tax implications of your assets, including the valuation of 401k or IRA accounts for wealth tax purposes, is crucial.

Read more about the Spanish Wealth Tax here.

Your Tax Experts in Spain

Navigating Spain’s tax landscape before you retire in Spain requires expertise. Whether you’re from the US or the UK, professional guidance is invaluable. At Spainguru you can find recommended tax experts, familiar with filings in the UK or the US. Contact them here.


Navigating the complexities of the Spanish tax system, especially for expatriates with foreign pensions who seek to retire in Spain, requires careful consideration to avoid unexpected tax liabilities. Spain’s tax laws mandate that residents—those spending more than 183 days in the country or whose economic interests are primarily based there—must declare their worldwide income, including pensions from abroad.

The tax obligations for foreign pensions vary, with specific thresholds set for declaring this income, influenced by whether it’s the individual’s sole source of income or if multiple sources are involved. The progressive tax rates ranging from 19% to 47% apply, underscoring the importance of understanding one’s tax responsibilities.

For those finding these regulations complex, professional tax advisors available to simplify the process, ensuring that retirees can enjoy their twilight years in Spain without the stress of tax complications.

Disclaimer: This guide is intended for informational purposes only and provides a general overview of the tax system in Spain as it pertains to retirees, focusing on pensions and financial assets. It aims to assist expatriates from the US and the UK in understanding and navigating Spanish tax regulations to facilitate a smooth transition to retirement in Spain. However, tax laws and interpretations are subject to change and can vary based on individual circumstances. This guide does not constitute legal or tax advice. We strongly recommend consulting with professional tax advisors or legal counsel to obtain advice tailored to your specific situation and to ensure compliance with all applicable tax laws and treaties.