advice, autonomo, finance, work

You’re Finally Autónomo. Now What? Setting Up Your Taxes

As a freelance English teacher, I officially became autónoma in 2017 in Santander. So I’ve been where you are, figuring out step by step how to take care of all the tax paperwork. I didn’t hire a gestor at any point, I do my “altas” and “bajas” each year, and I’ve always done my own taxes each quarter and each year. *This post is not meant to be taken as legal advice, it’s just a guide to walk you through the registration process. Please consult a lawyer or asesor if you need more specific help. 

You’re finally autónomo, you’ve registered for Seguridad Social, now you’re ready for the next step!

Setting up your taxes with the Agencia Tributaria

The Agencia Tributaria, also known as Hacienda, is the organization in charge of taxes, a lot like the IRS in the US. So they will need to be notified about your new work activity, where you’re located, and a few other codes and details so they can calculate your taxes correctly.

The process is called “Declaración Censal” and when you register, it’s called an alta, similar to what you did in Seguridad Social. The first step in the process is to go to the Declaración Censal on the Agencia Tributaria website, I’ve provided the link directly since it can be confusing getting there from the home page.

Do I choose Modelo 036 or Modelo 037?

Important question! They are basically the same form, but 037 is a simplified version for people without complex tax considerations. A few ways to know:

  • Are you registering as a PYME (small or medium sized business)? –> 036
  • Do you sell products at a distance? –> probably 036
  • Does your company operate in Spain while you live outside Spain (nonresident)? –> 036
  • Do you get income from movable capital? –> 036
  • Do you import and export goods to and from other European countries? –> 036

If you, like me, are an individual language teacher, or you do other kinds of freelance work like translation, web design, content writing, and many other types of work, you can complete Modelo 037. If you do accidentally complete 036, it’s not a problem, 037 is just shorter and easier.

Debe cumplimentar el modelo 037 toda persona física, empresarial o profesional que vaya a comenzar una o varias actividades económicas en España.

Let’s get started! I’ll walk you through filling out Modelo 037 since it’s the one I know the best. The steps will be similar for 036. 

Choose Modelo 037: Cumplimentación y presentación telemática. Before entering the form, you’ll have to identify yourself with your DNI or NIE number. If you’re a step ahead and already have your Certificado Digital, you can click the second link “accede con certificado electrónico.” 

Once you’re inside the form, you’re ready to start filling in data and checking boxes. First things first, fill out your NIF (same as your DNI or NIE number), then your last name and first name.

In Part 1 A) choose Alta en el censo de empresarios, profesionales y

Part 2

  • A4: Your DNI or NIE number again
  • A5: Your first surname
  • A6: Second surname, if you have one!
  • A7: First name
  • A8: Your business name, if it’s different from your name.

Here the numbers get a little out of order, but be careful NOT to fill in A9 if you’re not legally a “Sociedad Limitada (SL)” – this probably won’t apply to you. So then you can skip A9, A10, A27 and A38. 🤷🏾‍♀️

Moving on to A28, add your phone number data. The Spanish country code 34 in box A28, and then your mobile phone number. Below that, add your email address that you want to use for notifications. 

The next section is for your address – the main address that you use, or your “fiscal address.” (As you may have noticed, the Spanish system has an annoyingly long list of words for “street type” but the most common one is “Calle.”)

spain rooftops

What’s a Referencia Catastral?

Under box A25, you’ll see an option “Indicador referencia catastral.” It’s an official ID number for each apartment or house that the government uses to keep track of housing. In the dropdown menu, choose option number 1 for most cases. Option 2 is for people who live in País Vasco, option 3 for Navarra, and option 4 is if the home doesn’t have an ID number assigned. Most likely it does, though – you’ll look it up! Next to box A30, you’ll see a red link to “consultar su referencia catastral.” Go ahead and click the link, and on that page, open the second tab “Calle/Numero” as it’s the easiest way to find an address. Fill in your address details and click “Datos.” There you’ll see a nice official list of information about your house – it seems a little creepy, to be honest. But at the top of the page you’ll see a long number which is your Referencia Catastral. Copy that number and paste it into box A30. 

The next section, beginning with box A40, is only if you have a different address you want to use for notifications and communication. Add your address, and don’t click “Baja” in box A40, you’d only click that if you want to delete a previous address.

At the bottom of the page you’re going to “sign” the document by entering your city (Lugar), date (day-month-year) and your name. For “Firma en calidad de” choose “Interesado” – that’s you, not some representative doing it for you. Right, that was easy! But you’re just getting started – now we’ll go on to page two.

Impuesto Sobre la Renta de Personas Fisicas (IRPF)

Part 3

In this section you’re registering yourself as a taxpayer and entering the start date of your work activity. So you’ll click “Alta” on the first line, and enter the date on the right.

You’ll also choose “Estimación Directa: Inclusión” (option 608) and fill in the date. 


The next part isn’t applicable since we chose “estimación directa” – it’s a way that Hacienda calculates our taxes. So skip over those dropdown menus. 


Do I have to charge IVA (Impuesto Sobre Valor Añadido)?

In Part 4, you may or may not have to fill out the Impuesto Sobre Valor Añadido section. IVA is Spain’s version of sales tax, and many freelancers don’t have to charge or pay it. 

If you work in IT – web development, software, design, etc: YES, you charge IVA.

If you work in education teaching a subject included in the public education system: NO, you don’t charge IVA. (English classes for adults: no IVA.)

Son exenciones interiores (las localizadas en el territorio del IVA), entre otras: Enseñanza en centros públicos o privados autorizados y clases particulares por personas físicas sobre materias incluidas en los planes de estudios del sistema educativo. 

Here’s an official list of who is exempt from charging IVA. And here is an article explaining IVA exemption even more clearly! 

If in doubt, consult a gestor! 

Right, so in Part 4, if you don’t need to charge IVA, for the first question you will choose SÍ because it’s asking you if you are exempt. That’s all you need to do here.

do I have to charge IVA?

If you are a freelancer who does charge IVA, then you’ll choose NO, and enter the start date of your work activity on one of the lines. The most common case is the first option, check box 502 and fill in the date in 503. In Part C, you can choose Alta in the first line 510, General, and in 511 enter that IAE code you found when you registered for Social Security. (If there’s a period before the last number, enter a / instead. For example, 933/9.) Then enter the same work start date as before in 512.

(If you do have to charge IVA, you’ll need to fill out Modelo 303 every quarter to declare and pay the IVA. But not right now.)

Let’s move on to Page 3!

Part 5: Obligations related to retaining taxes

In most cases, you won’t have to fill in any details here. Do you hire out work to other freelancers in Spain, or do you have any employees? Do you rent out office space to other people? Have you won any prize money? Have you hired out farm work? If not, you probably don’t need to do anything here, just leave everything blank in Part 5. If you’re still wondering whether this is your case, read here about Modelo 111 and retenciones

Part 6

This next section is for everyone! Here you’ll need your IAE code, but there are dropdown menus provided to make it a little easier. In “Código y tipo de actividad” you’ll usually choose either A03 or A05. Teachers are A03, highly skilled professionals like doctors and engineers are A05. For example, I did some freelance programming work one time and needed to modify my 037, programmers use code A05 with code 763. As a teacher, I use A03 and code 9339. I leave that middle menu set to Empresarios.

codigo iae

In Part B, you’re reporting whether your work takes place in a specific office or location. This question is asking if we work outside of a certain location. As is the case for most freelancers, we work from home or wherever, so you will choose Alta in line 405 and put the date in 406. Then enter the province where you do the majority of your work (again, if from home, choose the province where you live).

However, if you are paying to use a specific office space or commercial space, you will fill out the bottom part.

Almost done! We don’t need to fill out anything Page 4, and the page won’t let us advance there since we aren’t doing a Baja.

The only thing left to do is click ENVIAR and you’ll see a window where you check “Conforme” and then Firmar y Enviar. Now that you’re done registering with AEAT, before you leave the page, download a copy of the PDF confirmation that you see.

So that’s it – you’re all set up to invoice and pay your taxes as an autónomo! On your invoices, you need to include a column IRPF where you’ll subtract 15% of what you charge, and the company you’re invoicing will pay that tax to the government for you. And then for quarterly tax payments and declarations (April, July, October and January), you’ll use form Modelo 130, and the annual tax declaration is Modelo 100.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

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