Spain announces new tax fraud measures after wave of YouTubers move to Andorra

February 1, 2021 1:51 PM EST

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By Aida Pelaez-Fernandez

(Reuters) - Spain's tax agency said on Monday it would start using "big data" to track wealthy individuals who pretend to reside abroad for tax purposes.

The crackdown comes after some of Spain's most popular YouTube personalities moved their residency to Andorra, a wealthy microstate perched in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, with lower tax rates than its larger neighbours.

As part of a push to harness more varied data, the agency will sift through as many as 70 different sources, including records from other tax payers, to highlight a few suspected fraudsters, a source with the agency said. The tax agency did not say what had motivated its clampdown.

Two weeks ago, Ruben Doblas, who posts YouTube videos under the moniker El Rubius, announced via livestream that he was moving to Andorra, stirring a debate in the Spanish media about where digital high-earners should pay their taxes.

Other popular Spanish YouTube personalities such as TheGrefg, Vegetta777, Willyrex and Patry Jordan have already settled in Andorra.

Doblas has the world's 44th most popular YouTube channel with 3.9 million subscribers and an estimated annual income of up to $2.3 million, according to social media tracker SocialBlade. He defended his right to choose where to live and criticised Spanish tax authorities as out of touch.

"I have been a Youtuber for the last 10 years paying almost half of what I have earned in taxes in Spain," he said on Twitter. "The tax laws were not prepared for this new wave of online creators in Spain. And they still aren't. They have not updated their catalogue of 'professions' since 1990."

In Spain, anyone who earns above 300,000 euros per year must pay income tax of 47%, compared with a 10% flat rate charged by Andorra on earnings of more than 40,000 euros.

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez, Editing by Inti Landauro, Nathan Allen and Aurora Ellis)



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