5.1.5 Tax laws
There are tax exemptions available for institutions from the "third sector", i.e., foundations, associations considered to be of public interest, international development and aid agencies, and non-profit making bodies falling within the terms of the 49/2002 Act on Tax Exemptions for Non-profit making Organisations and on Sponsorship. This piece of legislation establishes detailed exemptions on national and local taxes including rates, local duties levied on businesses, and the municipal tax charged on capital gains from the sale of urban property (the latter refers to non-profit making bodies). Individuals and companies can also claim an income tax exemption on the amount of money donated to certain organisations such as those mentioned above and public administrations (this refers to individuals and companies which invest and donate to non-profit making bodies and public administrations). Regional cultural institutions, public universities and university colleges, the Cervantes Institute, the Ramon Llull Institute and other bodies set up to promote regional languages have similar tax breaks and can benefit from donations.
One of the great challenges and normative projects of the current government of the Popular Party is a new Sponsorship Act that promotes greater participation both from individuals and companies in the financing and promotion of culture. The economic situation of the country, with a strong impact on the role of public administrations in culture, has generated a growing debate in Spanish society about the urgent need to increase sponsorship. Beyond the social debate, previous governments of the Popular Party (1996-2004) had included this strategic change in their programmes and today it is still one of the main objectives of the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015. After several years of announcements and discussions on a draft of a possible Act on Patronage and Sponsorship, during which the lack of coordination with the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration was remarkable, the government approved at the end of 2014 a fiscal reform that included some measures to foster patronage and other fiscal incentives for culture. Those measures, that will have a transitory application in 2015, will be fully implemented in 2016.
More precisely, fiscal benefits for patronage and sponsorship will be adopted in Personal Income Tax (IRPF), and in Corporation Tax (IS). In the IRPF, the percentages of general fiscal benefits will increase from 25% to 30% in 2016 (with a transitory increase to 27.5% in 2015). In the IS, the loyalty of private investors is to be acknowledged with an additional fiscal bonus of 5 points (up to 40% from the ordinary tax rate of 35%) if the contributions to the same beneficiaries increase or remain the same for at least 3 years (for 2016, the bonus will be 2.5 points). All those fiscal benefits will be increased by 5 additional points if the expenditure is allocated to an activity that is a priority patronage activity, as defined each year in the Act of the General State Budget. For the year 2015, the General State Budget includes performing arts and music in the list of priority activities for patronage (LPGE 2015).
For crowd-funding, the Spanish fiscal reform of 2014 establishes a special regime and defines two tiers for deductions in Personal Income Tax (IRPF): the first EUR 150 are to receive a deduction of 75%, and the additional contribution a deduction of 30%. For contributors that fund the same beneficiary for three or more years with constant or increased funding, there is an additional bonus of 5 points (reaching a rate of 35% deduction to be applied to any quantity above EUR 150). In 2015, the transitory deduction will be 2.5 points smaller.
Apart from the fiscal benefits for patronage, the fiscal reform also establishes some additional benefits for performing arts, music, and for the audiovisual sector. Performing arts and music will enjoy a 20% deduction in expenditures on production and exhibition of life performances. For audiovisual and cinema, there is an increase on deductions of 20% for the first invested million EUR, and 18% for quantities above that threshold (with a limit of three million EUR). In an attempt to attract shooting of films in Spain, there is a new deduction of 15% of the expenditure in Spain by great foreign productions, with a minimum and a maximum expenditure of 1 and 2.5 million EUR per production, respectively.
As the central government appeared to be unable to design and pass the patronage and sponsorship national act, several Autonomous Communities took up the challenge, and started debating or passing their own acts. Navarre approved the Act on 2014 (8/2014 Act), and other communities have started the process (Andalusia, Asturias, Balearics and Valencia).
In the field of culture, the Historical Heritage Act (16/1985Act) establishes some exemptions for the temporary importation of certain cultural products, in particular, movable assets that are included in inventories or recognised as being of cultural interest.
The severe economic crisis that affects the country led, in July 2012, to the establishment of a series of measures aimed at ensuring budgetary stability and promoting competitiveness (20/2012 Royal Decree Act that modifies the 37/1992 Value Added Tax Act). Among the measures is the increase in "general" and "reduced" VAT rates, from 18% and 8% to 21% and 10%, respectively. Thus, cultural goods, such as music CDs and movies DVDs attract the "general" levy of 21%, while tickets to libraries, archives and documentation centres and museums and art galleries continue being taxed at the "reduced" rate (10%). The rise in rates was accompanied by other additional measures by which certain cultural products and services pay a different tax rate: such is the case of the entry to theatres, circuses and other shows, the services produced by individual artists, digital television services and the acquisition of works of art that pay a VAT rate of 21% (previously it was 8%). Goods such as books, newspapers and magazines continue paying a "super-reduced" VAT rate of 4%, whilst the services of writers, composers or visual artists, which are linked to copyright, continue to be exempt from VAT. All these measures that deter cultural consumption have been produced with strong opposition from the cultural sector, already heavily affected by public cuts. Several reports commissioned by cultural actors and institutions anticipated and have discussed and tried to evaluate the negative effects of the cultural VAT regime on the cultural sector (ICC Consultants, 2012, 2013; Observatorio Vasco de la Cultura, 2014).
In an attempt to bring greater dynamism to the market of art, antiquities and collection items, and to enhance the production of national artists, the government approved the 1/2014 Royal Decree Act, for the modification of infrastructures and transport, and other economic measures, in which it approved the reduction of VAT rates for the acquisition of works of art from 21% to 10%, following constant pressure from the representatives of art galleries in Spain.
These last reforms have not affected the artists who continue benefiting from a tax exemption on important literary, artistic or scientific prizes (Article 7.1 of the35/2006 Income Taxes Act and Article3 of the 439/2007Royal Decree approving the Income Tax Regulations).
At regional level, the Catalan Parliament has recently passed a new Act (15/2014 Act) to establish a tax on the provision of content by providers of electronic communications services. With this regional tax, the government aims to foster production and improve competitiveness in the Catalan audiovisual sector. The tax, which has been discussed with strong opposition from telecommunications companies, is now under discussion by the Spanish Ministry of Finance and Public Administration, which will present appeals to the Constitutional Court if the Catalan government does not accept opening a process to modify the Act.