Spanish Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging: Clarifications by the DGT

Published on 7 July 2023

On 1 January 2023, the Tax on Non-Reusable Plastic Packaging came into force in Spain. It applies to all packaging containing plastic and designed to contain, protect or present goods to customers. However, packaging that forms an integral part of the goods and is necessary to contain or preserve them is not considered to be packaging for the purposes of the new tax.

This indirect tax has an impact not only on manufacturers or distributors of plastic packaging, but also on the companies that purchase these products. Hence, its scope of application bears considerable relevance. In this context, we believe it appropriate to outline some of the most relevant clarifying criteria which were established by the Spanish Directorate General of Taxes (“DGT”) or published in the Gazette of the Spanish Institute of Accountants and Auditors (BOICAC) respectively.

One relevant aspect is the obligation of plastic packaging manufacturers to levy the tax on purchases of their products. The corresponding invoices to their customers must include the information required by the regulation on this new tax, and hence, according to the interpretation of the DGT, it must state (separately) the quantity of plastic of each product. This interpretation hinges on the traceability of goods, for possible cases of deduction or refund of the tax by the purchaser. Therefore, the invoicing procedures of manufacturer must be adapted to comply with this interpretation by the tax authorities.

If the taxable person is an intra-Community purchaser, he/she is obliged to keep and submit a stock record book for his/her activity. According to the DGT, in general, in this stock record book all transactions must be recorded and accounted for separately, accretion or combined entries are only allowed in specific cases. Acting in accordance with this clarification made by the DGT is highly recommended, as formal errors in indirect taxes such as this one have serious tax consequences.

Finally, we believe it appropriate to comment on some accounting aspects of the tax established in the BOICAC. If the company acquiring the plastic is not entitled to deduct the tax in accordance with the tax regulation, it must be registered at the time of its accrual as part of the acquisition price of the good or service generating it. The company levying the tax may not include it in its revenue, however. Furthermore, if the tax is not paid immediately at the time of intra-Community acquisition or importation, or at the time of the first sale after manufacture, the liability arising for the taxpayer may be reflected in the account “Amounts owed to the Tax Authorities”.