Shakira has been summoned to appear in a court near Barcelona over allegations that she avoided paying €14.5m (£13m) in taxes, according to Spanish media reports.

Prosecutors, who accused her of tax evasion in December last year, argue that the musician avoided taxes by claiming to live in the Bahamas when she was resident in Catalonia.

Shakira changed residences in 2015 from the Bahamas to Spain, where she lives with her partner, the Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué, and their two sons. But prosecutors allege she was already living in the Catalan capital between 2012 and 2014, and should have paid tax in Spain on her worldwide income for those years.

Miles Dean commented:

“Shakira, like many other high-earning individuals, will fall under the taxman’s spotlight at some time during their career.

“It isn’t unusual for the taxman to scrutinise an individual’s residency status, as this will often determine whether they are taxed on their worldwide income if resident, or only on a source basis if non-resident – i.e. only her Spanish source performance income.

“An individual resident in Spain during the years in question would be liable to tax on a worldwide basis. Residency in Spain is determined not simply by the number of days in the tax year an individual is present in the country, but also by whether the individual’s centre of vital interests is located there.

“In other words, Shakira could, in theory, have spent less than 183 days of the Spanish tax year in the country, but if her home, partner and other interests were in Spain then she could be caught out.

“The use of the word evasion is unfortunate in these situations because it unfairly ascribes a degree of criminality to the individual. Shakira may well simply have been badly advised or, more likely, the Spanish authorities are continuing in their witch hunt of the rich and famous, launching criminal proceedings to make examples of them.

“Interestingly, Shakira registered as a tax resident in Spain in 2015, the same year in which the Beckham Law was reinstated. This law, which was introduced to attract high earners to Spain by taxing them on a territorial basis – i.e. tax would apply only to Spanish source income – had previously been amended in 2010 to limit its application.

“However, from 2015, all “employment” income, foreign or Spanish, is taxed as a Spanish source income, while other non-Spanish source income – for example, royalties, performance fees, etc. will continue to fall outside the scope of Spanish taxation.”

 

Read Miles’ comments in The Times Law Brief, Accountancy Daily and International Adviser