Legal framework and tax implications of e-commerce in Spain

The main legal and tax issues to take into consideration regarding e-commerce, digital economy and privacy are discussed in this chapter.

In Spain, as in neighboring countries, e-commerce-related activities are currently the object of specific regulation. In transactions involving e-commerce, regard should be had to the legislation on distance sales, advertising, standard contract terms, electronic signatures, data protection, intellectual and industrial property, and e-commerce and information society services, among others. Apart from these specific laws, it is also necessary to examine the general legislation on civil and commercial contracts and, in case of e-commerce addressed to consumers (B2C), the specific regulation on consumers’ protection should also be considered.

E-commerce raises tax issues that can be addressed with difficulty from a purely Spanish perspective. For this reason, the Spanish tax authorities have preferred to wait until a consensus is reached on the measures to be adopted regionally and even worldwide. Fair progress has been made in reaching a consensus on the VAT treatment of “online e-commerce”. As for the direct taxation issues, it is foreseeable that any consensus will take the form of a coordinated, uniform interpretation of the various criteria determining the tax treatment of e-commerce, rather than a legislative change. A good example of this is the amendments made to the commentaries on the OECD Model Convention.