Hacienda took money out of my bank account and I don’t know why!

When the tax authority (Hacienda) decides a debt with the government or one of it’s agents is unpaid and overdue, it has the right to freeze your bank accounts and take the amount straight out. If there is not enough money to cover the debt, then your bank account will be frozen until the debt is paid. But what happens if you never knew about the debt?

If you are in this situation and never received a debt notification from Hacienda, it is most likely because you were not at your registered address to receive the certified letter.

In order to find out what the embargo is for, you will have to visit your local Hacienda office, taking your ID, and ask for:

  • Liquidación: The reason for the original debt (an unpaid fine, unpaid tax, etc).
  • Providencia: The “providencia de apremio” is the dunning (demands for payment of a debt) issued by Hacienda once time for the original payment had elapsed. The providencia will show the timeframes of payment, as well as interest incurred upon the original debt and any other charges.

You will no longer be able to contest the original debt as the time for doing so will have elapsed and the debt will have become enforceable. But you still have one possible way of escape: ensuring that Hacienda correctly carried out all the legal servings of notifications.

Checking the notice was enforced correctly

Firstly, Carefully revise the paperwork you received from Hacienda when you went to their offices. Ensure that the address the notices of payments were served to is identical to your fiscal address. You can obtain a copy of your personal details on file from any Hacienda office. Make sure that the file contains the explanations from Correos outlining the steps taken to contact you. Remember that it is your duty to ensure your fiscal address with Hacienda is correct – if you move home, you need to update your address with them.

Hacienda is obliged to attempt to notify you twice before publishing your details in the State Gazette (BOE). The second notification should be within three working days of the first, and there must be a minimum of 24 working hours between notifications.

So if the first notification was at 15:00 hours on Monday and the second at 12:00 on Tuesday, Correos has not correctly served notice of enforcement upon you.

Secondly, if both notices were served correctly, then find out if your details were published correctly in the State Gazette (www.boe.es)

Thirdly, ensure that the notification contained the full text of the serving, explaining why the debt was incurred, and outlined your rights and ways to appeal.

If the notice of payment was not served correctly….

Then you can appeal. Defective notices (notificaciones defectuosas) are not served until the date on which you act upon them. If the failure to serve was carried out in the providencia de apremio you can appeal the embargo on this basis.

And check the amount you are being embargoed for!

Even if the enforcement notices were correctly served, you may still find some reasons to appeal.

For example, if the bank account which has been embargoed has several account holders, the amount within is presumed to be divided into equal portions between them. Therefore Hacienda only has the right to claim the portion belonging to the debtor.

Nómina. If your salary is paid into this account, the amount corresponding to the last payslip can only be embargoed by the percentages applied to salary embargoes.

Maria Luisa

María Luisa Cervantes is a chartered accountant who graduated from the University of Granada in 2002. Founder of Cervantes Alarcón Consulting, she is an experienced accountant and financial advisor who is a member of the Almería guild of economists. With more than 15 years of experience in business administration and international trade, she is also a subject matter expert in the UK - Spanish bilateral agreements which cover the rights of expats to live, work and retire in Spain.