B Law & Tax
07 September 2023

Tax advisor: A municipality cannot establish differences in a rate according to the registration of users, since it violates the principle of equality

The main issue focuses on the legality of the discount approved by the City Council in favor of residents registered in that municipality in the fees for access to municipal sports facilities, such as sports centers, swimming pools and frontons. The first instance ruling concluded that when a municipality decides to offer a service that is not mandatory by law, it must do so under the same conditions as those that offer it on a mandatory basis, without introducing unjustified discrimination for those registered in other municipalities. The first instance ruling argued that this discrimination infringed the principle of equality and therefore upheld the same tariff for all users of public services.

The appeal adequately summarizes the appealed judgment, highlighting that the latter considered the distinction based on census registration to be unjustified, since it generated discrimination to the detriment of residents of nearby municipalities. From a tax perspective, it is unacceptable that a person who is registered as a resident is treated differently from a person who is not registered as regards the tax advantage in question. The rationality of the residence criterion (i.e., empadronamiento) as the sole basis for the tax advantage might require additional justification from an EU law perspective, especially in cases of possible transnational links.

In summary, census registration cannot be considered a reasonable and objective criterion to justify differences in fees for access to municipal sports facilities, such as sports centers, swimming pools and frontons, depending on whether users are registered in the municipality or not.

B Law & Tax International Tax & Legal Advisors.

 https://www.blaw.es/

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