Over 8,000 autónomos (self-employed) in Spain have this week, found that Spain’s Social Security have accidentally overcharged them.
According to the Asociación de Trabajadores Autónomos (ATA), the costly mistake saw those who had registered as self-employed between January 1 and January 9 paying 299 euros, instead of the special rate of just 80 euros that is offered to those who are starting out as self-employed.
The error, which has been described by the Spanish press as an “incident in the system”, was made by Spain’s Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones, who have said that those workers who have been accidentally overcharged, will be contacted by email in the coming weeks. And according to Europa Press, it is thought that refunds will be sent by March, if not before.
Along with the system error that resulted in overcharging, many were shocked to see that their contribution base was automatically updated by the Social Security, leading to further overpayment.
Self-employed individuals have the option to update their contribution base, which is their estimated net income for calculating social security contributions, based on changes in their income at the start of the year. However, at the end of January, those who did not update their base or have higher income were charged 8.6 percent more than necessary.
The General Secretary of the ATA, José Luis Perea, emphasised that these errors have nothing to do with the new contribution system, the Special Regime for Self-Employed Workers (RETA), that took effect in 2023 and is based on real income.
Perea has stated that the new system will benefit nearly 70 percent of self-employed workers in Spain.
Starting in 2023, Spanish self-employed individuals will pay monthly social security fees based on their actual earnings, instead of a fixed rate. Prior to the change, freelancers were required to pay a minimum contribution base of 294 euros per month after two years of being registered as self-employed, regardless of their income.
With the new system, self-employed workers in Spain now have the ability to adjust their income bracket every two months, up to a maximum of six changes throughout the year. This allows them to align their social security contributions with their projected income as it fluctuates.
The fee structure has changed from a fixed rate of 294 euros per month to a progressively reducing rate, starting from 200 euros per month for lower earners and increasing to 590 euros per month for higher earners. While this change will result in reduced social security payments for some self-employed individuals, it will increase for those earning over 1,700 euros per month.
Although the self-employed workers who were overcharged due to the recent system error will receive their refunds soon, those whose contribution base was increased will have to wait until the end of the 2023 fiscal year to get their money back.
The new contribution system for self-employed workers in Spain, which came into effect on January 1st, 2023, will have a 9-year transition period and features 15 different contribution levels based on net income, ranging from 230 euros to 590 euros per month.