Spanish authorities have launched an investigation into Colombian pop star Shakira for allegedly evading taxes in the country from 2012 to 2014.
Spanish tax authorities believe the Latina musician already resided in Spain prior to her official move to Barcelona from the Bahamas in 2015 and failed to pay taxes for the couple of years preceding the move.
Although Shakira officially transferred her residency from the Bahamas to Barcelona in 2015, Spanish prosecutor Jose Miguel Company told the Associated Press, “It's public knowledge that this is not the case.”
For instance, several employees of a popular hair salon in Barcelona confirmed that Shakira visited them several times per month, a fact that contradicts the singer’s claim that during the years in question she resided in the Bahamas where she owned a house and a recording studio.
According to Spain’s tax authorities, Shakira’s monthly expenses show several “abnormal” payments to businesses in the country despite the musician declaring her residency “outside of Spain.”
Spanish law dictates that individuals who spend more than six months per year in the country are considered to be tax residents.
PwC spokesperson Anna Forastier informed the press that Shakira had hired her firm to represent her before the Spanish government.
Was Shakira Poorly Advised or Is This Another Witch Hunt?
A source close to the musician told BBC News that there wasn’t “any tax evasion,” as Shakira “was outside Spain most of that time” and “always complied with her tax obligations.”
In the past, Shakira’s lawyer Ezequiel Camerini said about these allegations, “As an international artist, she had lived in several places in the course of her professional life, acting in total accordance with the laws of all the jurisdictions she resides in.”
According to Miles Dean of Milestone International Tax, “residency in Spain is determined not simply by the number of days in the tax year an individual is present in the country, but also by whether the individual’s centre of vital interests is located there.”
“In other words, Shakira could, in theory, have spent less than 183 days of the Spanish tax year in the country, but if her home, partner and other interests were in Spain then she could be caught out,” Dean said.
“The use of the word evasion is unfortunate in these situations because it unfairly ascribes a degree of criminality to the individual,” Dean concluded, adding that the Colombian singer “may well simply have been badly advised or, more likely, the Spanish authorities are continuing in their witch hunt of the rich and famous, launching criminal proceedings in an attempt to make examples of them.”
Shakira, Tax Avoidance and the Paradise Papers
Shakira’s name popped up over the summer as part of the Paradise Papers leak, which showed that back in 2009 she had transferred rights over her intellectual property and brands to a company based out of Malta.
As reported by the Times of Malta, “Tournesol Limited received the rights to the Colombian singer's musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks, valuing them at €32 million, in July of that year, from another Shakira-owned company in Luxembourg.”
At the time, Shakira lawyer said, “The Maltese company Tournesol Limited fulfills all legal requirements to operate as such. All of the corresponding information relative to this entity is public and transparent.”
The current tax evasion case was passed onto the local prosecutor’s office in December of last year and a decision on the case is expected for the summer of 2018.
Shakira’s fortune surpasses the $200 million mark.
All translations from Spanish are the author’s.
Main photo credited to Avis De Miranda / Shutterstock.com.