Monday, July 2, 2012

SICAV, Spain’s favorite tax avoidance vehicle for the rich finally gets some scrutiny

Spain’s fortunate families and family fortunes have been able to park their funds in a very tax efficient vehicle called a SICAV, which only needs to pay 1% corporate income tax. In theory, it should be managed like a mutual fund, but in practice it usually remains a muppet of the investor or family owning it. The “rules” for qualifying as a SICAV are pretty much a joke (other than needing at least 2.4 million in capital), and the 100 investor minimum limit is easily surpassed by having friendly 99 straw investors owning some extremely small faction of the fund. In addition, since the primary purpose of this fund is to be a tax avoidance vehicle, the fact that it is not actually audited by the tax office (only by the toothless CNMV, which limits the authority of the tax office to investigate) means that even these loose rules are probably not followed in practice.

I think it’s good news that at least the political party UPyD is asking that there be a 5% per investor maximum (which would avoid the straw investor rule, but hopefully Spain would take a look at the US’s foreign controlled corporation constructive ownership rules to shut down to most oblivious ways to bypass this), and that the rules be enforced by the tax office instead of the CNMV.

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