Spanish Holding Company (ETVE)
A regime governing Spanish holding companies came into force in 1995, providing an efficient mechanism to structure multinational groups with investments in Latin America, since Spain has the most extensive network of tax treaties with countries in the region.
Spanish International Investment Companies (ETVE), “Entidades de Tenencia de Valores Extranjeros”, are extremely tax-efficient international investments structures. ETVE Spanish Holding companies are widely used by UK and international companies to structure investment holdings in Latin America, using Spain, and its treaty network, as the base.
The ETVE regime has been used for more than 20 years and is one of the most tax-efficient international investment vehicles in the world.
What Is an ETVE Spanish Holding Company?
Spanish International Investment Companies (Entidades de Tenencia de Valores Extranjeros ETVE), are regular Spanish resident companies involved in “the supervision and management of securities issued by companies non-resident in Spain”. They are international investment companies and are widely used for Latam investment, using Spain, and its Latam treaty network, as a base.
The ETVE structure complies with all EU and OCDE criteria, including the benefit of being located in a double tax treaty jurisdiction and in the EU territory. As such, the ETVE is protected by EU Directives, such as the Parent-Subsidiary Directive and the Merger Directive, and is regarded as Spanish resident for tax purposes.
The broad Spanish tax treaty network, specifically with Latin America, and the European character of the ETVE, makes it an interesting vehicle for channelling capital investments towards Latin America, as well as a tax-efficient exit route for EU capital investments by non-EU companies.
In 1995, the Spanish Corporate Tax Act (Ley 43/1995 del Impuesto de Sociedades), included a chapter devoted to the tax regime of the ETVE, Entidades de Tenencia de Valores Extranjeros (Foreign Securities Holding Companies), which most people know as the International Spanish Holding structure. Over the years, the structure has proved to be robust enough to compete in the international tax planning market for holding companies.
How do Spanish ETVE Holding Companies Work?
The ETVE is a regular Spanish company subject to Spanish Corporate Tax rules on its Spanish trading income, but exempt from taxation on qualified foreign-source dividends and capital gains. To benefit from this regime, the ETVE structure requires disclosure and notification to the Spanish tax authorities.
Although formal authorization is not needed, communication is a formal requirement that must be complied with.
- ETVEs may carry out other business activities in addition to those of a pure holding nature.
- ETVEs may be fully exempt from the payment of tax on dividends and capital gains obtained from their shareholding in non-resident companies.
- The shares of ETVEs must be nominative so that the shareholders are easily identifiable at all times. Shares issued to the bearer are not allowed. Authorization by the tax authorities is not required in order to benefit from the ETVE regime.
Tax Benefits of ETVE Spanish Holding Companies.
The ETVE benefit from the Spanish double tax treaty network and may carry other activities in Spain or internationally.
- Investments on foreign qualifying assets means that the dividends and capital gains received by the ETVE are totally exempt from Spanish Corporation Tax.
- Capital gains arising from the sale of the shares of the ETVE are not subject to taxation in Spain in accordance with certain rules.
- The distribution of dividends from Spain from the ETVE to a non-resident shareholder, are not subject to withholding tax in Spain.
- The Spanish ETVE may also take advantage of the Parent-Subsidiary Directive: 0% withholding tax for dividends received from subsidiaries resident in other European Union countries. Where the provisions of the parent/subsidiary directive do not apply (or where anti-avoidance provisions are in place) Spanish holding companies can rely on a reasonably extensive network of double taxation treaties, the effect of which is to obtain a reduction in withholding tax rates on dividends remitted to Spain from the subsidiary jurisdiction.
ETVE Rules and Regulations
The ETVE may apply for a full participation exemption on qualifying investment income coming from dividends or capital gains according to certain rules, such as:
- Income earned by the non-resident entities, from which dividends and capital gains are paid, is derived from business activities conducted outside Spain. The company’s principal activity should not be the management of movable or immovable property (Article 116.1 LIS).
- The ETVE must have a Board of Directors meeting regularly and its corporate purpose must include managing and administering securities representing the equity of entities not resident in Spanish territory, with a minimum holding of 5% in their equity, or when the acquisition value of the holding exceeds 6 million euros (article 116.1 LIS). The ETVE must have the corresponding organisation of material and personal resources (see definition contained in the reply issued by the Directorate General for Taxation, in binding tax consultation number 120/03.
- The securities representing the participation in the ETVE must be registered (article 116.1 LIS).
- The option for the scheme must be communicated to the Ministry of Finance. It will be applied in the tax period ending after the communication, and in the following periods, unless waived (article 119 LIS).
- The non-resident company must be subject to, and not exempt from, a tax system that is similar to Spain’s corporate tax system. This requirement will be considered as fulfilled whenever the foreign company is resident in a country that has signed a double tax treaty with Spain and must include an information exchange clause. The amount of the exempt income and the taxes paid abroad corresponding to it must be mentioned in the notes to the ETVE’s annual accounts (article 118.3 LIS).
- The non-resident entity must not reside in a country or territory identified by the Spanish tax authorities as a tax haven and dividend distribution cannot be made to tax haven
- For capital gains tax purposes, the seller and the purchaser must be unrelated parties if the purchaser is a Spanish entity.
- There must be a minimum one-year holding period to apply for the exemption
- There are other requirements depending on the investment, which should be reviewed with our tax & legal team.
- Latin America: The use of Spanish holding companies is extremely manageable in relation to Latin American countries due to the Spanish extensive network of double tax treaties and bilateral investment treaties in the region.
Spanish Holding Company ETVE Considerations
- The financial costs associated with the acquisition of participations are in principle deductible for corporate tax purposes.
- Stamp Duty is usually 1%, payable on the issue of share capital on entities established in Spain, which is exempted in paper for paper operations.
- The ETVE can hold shares in other entities resident in Spain, with no limits in terms of participation. However, there is a limit of a 15% holding of assets located in Spain when selling the shares.
- If the participation by the ETVE in the non-resident entity was valued according to the rules applicable to the special tax regime for mergers, spin-offs, exchanges of shares and in-kind contributions and payment of direct taxes in Spain was deferred, the exemption only applies to the positive difference between the transmission value and the market value when the participation was acquired by the ETVE. The remaining of the income obtained in the transfer will be included in the tax base.
- If foreign source dividends are exempt from tax in Spain, the ETVE cannot include in the taxable base the depreciation of the participation corresponding to those dividends.
- If the ETVE has losses in the transmission of a participation in a foreign company, such losses will be reduced by the amount of exempt gains obtained by an entity forming part of the same group of companies of the ETVE that transmitted the participation to the ETVE.
Preguntas frecuentes sobre la ETVE
¿Qué significa ETVE?
Entidades de Tenencia de Valores Extranjeros (ETVE)
¿Es la ETVE una empresa española especial?
Las ETVE, también conocidas como sociedades holding españolas, son aquellas empresas que se benefician de un régimen fiscal especial que consiste en la exención de impuestos respecto a los dividendos o plusvalías que puedan obtener de las acciones y participaciones en empresas extranjeras.
¿Cuáles son las principales ventajas fiscales que otorga este régimen fiscal especial?
Los convenios de doble imposición suscritos por España se aplican a las ETVE, como a cualquier otra empresa residente en España. Por ello, las ETVE pueden beneficiarse de las exenciones y tipos reducidos en materia de dividendos, plusvalías o intereses. A continuación se muestra una lista de los países con los que España ha firmado un tratado de doble imposición.
- Bosnia y Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- República Checa
- Antiguos Estados de la URSS (excluida Rusia)
- El Salvador
- Nueva Zelanda
- Federación de Rusia
- Arabia Saudí
- Corea del Sur
- Trinidad y Tobago
- Emiratos Árabes Unidos
- Reino Unido
- Estados Unidos de América
¿Cuáles son los requisitos para acogerse a este régimen?
Para acogerse al Régimen de las ETVE es necesario que la empresa tenga la consideración de “entidad activa”, desarrollando su actividad mediante la organización de medios materiales y personales. No es necesario que los medios humanos y materiales alcancen un determinado umbral mínimo, pero la empresa ETVE no puede ser, como sociedad de inversión, un cascarón vacío o un mero depositario de activos.
¿Cuáles son los requisitos legales para aplicar la exención fiscal a los dividendos y plusvalías?
La Ley del Impuesto sobre Sociedades (RD 4/2004 de 5 de marzo, TRLIS, Capítulo XIV sección artículos 116-119) recoge la definición actual de la ETVE. Esta definición legal, junto con la normativa, los dictámenes de la Agencia Tributaria y las sentencias de los tribunales, ha contribuido a completar una estructura más madura y preparada para ser utilizada con fines de planificación fiscal internacional bajo la adecuada supervisión fiscal española.
Una ETVE es una empresa española normal sujeta a un impuesto del 30% sobre sus ingresos, pero exenta de impuestos sobre los dividendos y las ganancias de capital de origen extranjero. En junio de 2000, se modificó el régimen para introducir nuevas e importantes mejoras, entre ellas la exención del impuesto sobre las plusvalías en la transmisión de acciones de la sociedad holding española, que aumentan las posibilidades de la ETVE como vehículo de cartera. Asimismo, el Comité del Código de Conducta de la UE ha determinado que la ETVE no representa una competencia fiscal potencialmente perjudicial.
¿Por qué la ETVE debería interesar a mis clientes?
Las ventajas fiscales de una ETVE en España son únicas en comparación con otros países de Europa. La gestión es más barata y transparente, el anonimato de los accionistas es elevado y hace posible que la empresa trabaje en los mercados internacionales sin tener que pagar impuestos por los dividendos. No es casualidad que muchas de las principales empresas del mundo utilicen ETVEs.