About Sabrina L. Williams

Although I was born in the UK, I moved to the Canary Islands, Spain at a young age and I haven't looked back. The Canaries is a fantastic place to live, I mean you can do all types of outdoor activities practically all year round because of the great weather. Horses are my poison but the islands are also a superb spot for water sports so they do attract a lot of attention from people around the world. Anyway, enough about that. Back in 2011, I made one of the biggest, scariest yet best decisions I'd ever made and set-up my own business in the middle of a recession. I love what I do as no two days are the same, plus Spanish law keeps me on my toes as it is constantly changing (often without warning!) so there is always something new to learn. As I've branched out in the world of Administrative Consultancy, I decided to create a blog to discuss topics of interest to others in my industry and my clients, share tips and experiences, to see what new ideas people have for improving their businesses and the like so I hope you'll find the time to join me on this venture...

Not only has Fuerteventura moved down to Phase One, but the rest of the Islands have as well

The Canarian Government held their weekly Thursday evaluation and concluded that Fuerteventura’s numbers showed sign of improvement that warranted lowering restrictions. During the last week, the number of new cases decreased and the number of positive PCR tests increased. When you couple that with the fact that Covid related incidents at the General Hospital and in the ICU are also on the decline, it adds up to great things for the island.

The other Islands have also shown massive improvement, although Lanzarote had a slight increase over the last seven days that has since stabilized also.

The weekly statistics showed that between the 6th and 12th October, 368 new Covid cases were recorded; a decrease of 17,5% on the daily average from the previous week.

What Are Phase One Restrictions?

  1. Occupancy: In open-air spaces it is 100% of the stipulated maximum and 75% in interior spaces
  2. Groups: This must not exceed 12, except if the group is comprised of persons that co-habitate. If the group is mixed, the maximum is still 12
  3. Closing Times: For those establishments that did not have a set closing time or one that exceeds the time set for Phase One, the maximum authorized by the Government is 3am
  4. Night-Life: Establishments such as clubs, cocktail bars, karaokes and similar that have the appropriate Opening Licences may operate as per said licences, which means that live music is allowed but dancing is still prohibited. These establishments must still collect staff and customer information (DNI/NIE, telephone number, date and time of service) in order to trace possible outbreaks. These records must be kept for at least one month in case the Authorities request them
  5. The sale of alcohol is prohibited on public streets, parks and open-air recreational areas

On another note, the Canarian Government has also suspended the obligation for guests at tourist accommodations to provide certification to prove they are Covid-free, whether this is by means of PCR tests, a vaccine certificate or sworn declarations that show the guest has already had Covid or have not left the Islands in the 15 days immediately prior to check-in. This measure should in theory stay in place until 31st January

According to the report issued on Friday based on the plenary meeting held on Thursday 30th September, the Alert Level on Fuerteventura is back to Level 2 (finally!!) along with Tenerife, whilst Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro are down to Level 1.

These levels will be in place for the next week as usual and came into effect on Friday 1st October.

Alert Level 2 Restrictions

  • Rules regarding masks remain the same
  • Maximum occupancy permitted in open-air spaces: 75% of the established number
  • Maximum occupancy permitted in interior spaces: 50% of the normal amount
  • Maximum number of persons in a group: Maximum of 8 in both open-air and interior areas as well as private and public spaces. If the group of persons all live under the same roof, the maximum of 8 does not apply, however, if the group is mixed, i.e., some reside together and some do not, the maximum of 8 applies
  • Closing times for the Hospitality Sector (Restaurants, Bar-Cafeterias and similar): 2am
  • Nightlife Establishments (Clubs, Bars, Karaokes and similar): The Canarian Government discussed this point at the same plenary session although it was not included on the Agenda for that day and determined that those establishments that prior to the pandemic did not have a fixed closing time or it is superior to the closing time established above, may remain open as follows: Level 1 until 4am; Level 2 until 4am; Level 3 until 3am (to be reviewed again on 31st October 2021). Customer registry is still obligatory
  • Consumption of alcohol is now permitted in Gambling Establishments during regular opening hours (to be reviewed again on 31st October 2021)
  • Live Music is allowed again but ONLY in establishments with the correct licences in place
  • Dancing is NOT permitted

Yesterday afternoon, Friday 30th July 2021, the Canarian Government held another plenary session where they discussed the various measures the High Court of Justice has deemed unconstitutional to be enforced.

As you may have heard, this is not the only matter the High Court of Justice have taken issue with as they have blasted the State of Emergency and declared it illegal (more on that when more information is revealed), but getting back to the Islands; the Canarian Government is awaiting clarification regarding the limitations that must be removed.

The biggest issue has to do with restrictions for islands at Alert Level or Tier 4 (currently only Tenerife is affected) where 50% of patrons sat in the interior must have had both doses of the vaccine, a PCR test not more than 72 hours old or a certificate of having had COVID-19 in the last six months.

This meant the establishments are responsible for requesting this personal data from their customers which of course would have been met with resistence, so the Asociación Hostelería Unida de Tenerife (Tenerife United Hospitality Association) appealed this decision and the Court agreed with some of the points raised.

Other measures such as the time when these establishments must close and enforcing curfew are also being questioned. However, until the High Court of Justice comes back with a resolution, all hospitality establishments must close at midnight on islands at alert level 4.

For now and due to the number of current cases, each island will remain at the same alert levels as last week. We’ll have to see what unfolds after the High Court deliberates…

Mayhem and more mayham as Social Security realizes the error made last month when processing payments and deductions as some sole traders renewed their right to continue receiving Sole Trader “Unemployment” Benefits whereas others opted out.

The situation is as follows… Around 250.000 business owners chose to continue receiving unemployment benefits whilst trade is still slow due to Covid-19 but many who had been receiving payments decided to discontinue either because business had picked up and they could manage without additional help or because their income forecast for summer trade would exceed the maximum permitted by Social Security to qualify for benefits.

Those who discontinued benefits would instead receive reduced rates on their Social Security contributions from June to September; now, my clients in this situation will remember when I said at the time that since it was possible to apply for continued benefits until August, it is likely Social Security would charge as normal in June and July and wait to see which business owners are still receiving payments and then deduct two months contributions at the end of August as that seemed the most logical course of action. However, this did not happen and surprisingly, Social Security implemented deductions straight away.

This is partly where the problem lies because not only did they apply deductions virtually across the board meaning that many sole traders only paid 10% of their normal monthly contribution even though they had applied to continue receiving payments; but the Mutuas correctly refunded these sole traders a percentage of the Social Security contribution as part of their benefits payment.

What does this mean? Well, not only were the affected sole traders charged 90% less by Social Security but they were also reimbursed part of the contribution by the Mutua (double whammy!) so in many cases, these business owners now owe Social Security a minimum of 250 euros depending on their base rate.

How has this happened? Social Security and the Mutuas are independent entities so the information is not picked up immediately, so Social Security did not have the necessary data to determine who was entitled to the 90% reduced rate in June. Again, this is why at the time I had assumed they would wait until the end of August before applying any deductions as they would have sufficient information by then but they didn’t do that.

The second scenario is that other business owners are owed money by Social Security because they paid the full contribution in June when they should have only paid 10%. In this case, they must request the appropriate refund directly.

The third and final scenario is those sole traders who had been receiving benefits until May but opted not to renew this right correctly paid 10% of their normal contribution in June and will continue receiving discounts until September. In this case, the sole trader neither owes nor is owed anything.

Bottom line… Check your June bank statement to see what Social Security you paid and what you received from the Mutua to verify whether you are one of the affected business owners who now owes Social Security. If you are unsure, please contact me about it. So far Social Security has not released clear information as to how they intend on regulating these payments, but I’m sure they are working on a way to fix this big mistake!

The National Tax Office (AEAT) has published a document (of biblical proportions!) regarding the main tax changes introduced in Ley 11/2021, 9 de julio, preventative measure and the fight against tax fraud. This is in keeping with EU Directive 2016/1164 with the aim of preventing practices that directly impact the interior market.

Cash Payments

Out of everything in this mammoth document, the one that probably effects most has to do with limitations on cash payments which generally speaking has been reduced from 2.500 euros to 1.000 euros. Payments that exceed 1.000 euros or the equivalent amount in foreign currency are not permitted if either of the intervening parties is a business owner or professional.

Limitations also apply for individuals whose registered tax address is located outside of Spanish territory; reduced from 15.000 euros to 10.000 euros.

These regulations also affect payments between employers and employees because pay slips equal to or more than 1.000 euros.

The penalty for non-compliance is 25% of the cash payment made that exceeds the above parameters, however a reduced rate of 50% is applicable if the fine is paid any time between the “proposal of a fine” by the AEAT but before the definitive notification is sent.

If one of the intervening parties of a commercial transaction reports the other for payment that exceeds the established limits, they will be found exempt of any responsibility as long as the matter is reported within three months of the payment.

The report must detail the nature of the transaction, the amount and the identity of the other party. If the report is made simultaneously by both parties, both will be found liable.

The other points in this law do not affect the majority of business owners but I will post updates on other areas that may be of importance.

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