Income tax – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

Income tax is a pecuniary benefit that natural persons have the obligation to satisfy before the State. It is calculated based on the individual’s income and certain personal circumstances.

This tax is a direct tribute that is levied on the set of income, gains and capital losses of natural persons, taking into account their personal and family circumstances.

It has an annual periodicity, that is, each year this tax will be calculated according to the income and the circumstances of the person. In Spain it is known as IRPF.


The main characteristics of this tax are:

  1. It is a personal tribute: this means that it is quantified individually for each person. If it were a general tax, it would not take into account the specific person and would establish an equal tax for everyone, such as, for example, the Value Added Tax (VAT). Instead, this tax is personalized and quantified differently depending on the person.
  2. Direct tax: tax the person directly. It is based on the reality of the economic capacity of the person.
  3. It is subjective: This is so because it takes into account the personal circumstances of the taxpayer, not like the Consumption Tax (VAT). It will influence the amount of the tax if the taxpayer has dependent descendants of him or if he has some degree of disability, for example.
  4. Progressive: The higher the base, the higher the applicable tax. If a person has a higher income, the higher the amount he must pay. The amount to be paid increases if rents rise proportionally. In this way, the principle of economic capacity and progressivity is respected.
  5. The percentage to apply will depend on the amount of the tax base: The tribute is calculated by sections or steps. For example, the tax base can be divided into sections and each part will be applied its corresponding percentage. Once its percentage is applied to each section, the resulting quotas will be added and the result of that sum will be the tax amount to be collected by the State.
  6. Periodicity: The income taken into consideration to calculate this tax is that of the calendar year. Each year this tax will be calculated again, thus updating the tax on the economic capacity of the person.
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Income tax elements

The main elements that make up this tax are:

  • Taxable event: the situation that gives rise to the tax obligation is that a natural person obtains income throughout the tax year. What is rent? Income is made up of income from work, income from capital, income from economic activities and capital gains and losses.
  • Passive subject: It is the taxpayer. In Spain, the taxpayer of this tax will be the person who has the habitual residence in the country.
  • tax base: The amount on which the tax percentage is applied. It will depend on the income of each person and his circumstances.
  • lien type: This is the proportion that is applied to the tax base to calculate the amount to be paid.
  • Tax rate: It is the amount that the citizen must pay to the Administration.

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Elena Trujillo, May 20, 2022
Income tax.

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