In July, Shakira rejected the plea deal. She said in an interview with Elle that the trial was a “matter of principle.”
How does Spanish tax law work?
Spanish local tax law uses three criteria to consider whether a person resides in a Spanish territory: physical presence, center of economic interests, and location of spouse and children. In Shakira’s case, determining presence is key, said Adolfo Martín Jiménez, professor of tax law at the University of Cádiz and international tax expert at Pérez-Llorca, a Madrid law firm.
“Even if you are not present for these many days, intermittent presence is considered presence,” Jiménez said, adding that “there is a tendency in Spain, within the tax administration, to consider whether a person is unable to prove that they are residents of another country, then there is an assumption That they’re doing something strange.”
As in the United States, Spain applies a global income correlation. Jimenez said fines like those of the Spanish tax authorities – 23 million euros – are based on income.
How are these cases usually performed?
Shakira is not the first celebrity to target the Spanish tax authorities.
Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo paid $22 million in back taxes and fines as part of a 2018 settlement on undisclosed earnings from his advertising contracts. As part of the agreement, Ronaldo, who played for Real Madrid for 9 years, accepted a two-year prison sentence. But under Spanish law, first-time tax offenders are exempt from prison if the sentence is two years or less.
Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer star who played for Barcelona, was also convicted in Spain of failing to disclose some of his advertising contracts.
But after Shakira paid taxes, plus another 1.7 million euros in interest, that doesn’t mean she’s in the clear. Carlos Cruzado, a tax expert and president of Gestha, the union of IRS technicians, said prosecutors had already taken this into account as a remedy when they requested an eight-year prison sentence.