After a year-long investigation into her alleged failure to pay 14.5 million euros (over $16.5 million) to the Spanish government, Shakira will reportedly face criminal tax fraud charges, according to Spain’s El Pais newspaper. A report in El Pais published on Friday (Dec. 7) said that authorities have notified the singer’s attorney of the pending court charges, reporting that the information came from sources “close to the proceedings.”
The investigation, according to previous reports in El Pais and other Spanish media, has centered on whether the singer resided in Spain between 2011 and 2014, according to the legal definition of residence. Spanish law stipulates that if she spent at least 183 days in Spain she is considered a fiscal resident of the country and must pay taxes on all of her global income to the Spanish tax agency. (If she spent less time in Spain, she would be required to pay taxes only on the money she earned working inside the country.)
According to reports, Shakira filed her taxes as if she spent the better part of those years in the Bahamas, rather than living with her partner, Barcelona Futbol Club soccer player Gerard Pique, in the Esplugues de Llobregat area of Barcelona. The couple’s relationship went public in 2011 with photos of them together in Barcelona; the first of their two sons was born in a Barcelona hospital in 2013. The Spanish tax authority launched its investigation into the Latin star on suspicion that she claimed to be living in the Bahamas to evade taxes.
In a response to investigators, according to documents previously cited by El Pais, Shakira’s defense said that she was away from Spain during most of the time in the cited years, and that most of her income came from abroad. In addition, she maintained that she had not attempted to willfully hide her income, and characterized the issue as one of “a difference in criteria.”
In a statement provided to Billboard on Friday, the singer’s representatives laid out what they called the “discrepancies between PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Spanish Tax Agency regarding Shakira’s fiscal status in Spain and a possible forthcoming legal complaint.” The statement says that “Shakira has at all times fulfilled her tax obligations and owes no money to the Spanish Treasury. As soon as she was made aware of the amount that according to the Tax Agency she owed, as a gesture of good faith, she made the payment in full, and, therefore, there are currently no monies owed.”
It adds that the singer has “fulfilled all tax obligations” and has always followed the advice of the respected accounting firm PwC, who began working with her in 2012, explaining that Shakira’s is a “unique case” of a foreign citizen of Spain whose income is generated almost entirely (96%) abroad. “It is important to note that Shakira’s intense professional activity takes her all over the world, and as such, her business and family models are very different from conventional models,” according to the statement.
“Until 2015, as demonstrated, Shakira never spent more than 183 days per year in Spain, and she even spent long periods with her children in other countries, particularly in the United States where she has most of her professional engagements. In this sense, the artist’s payment of the debt estimated by the Spanish Tax Agency shows her willingness to resolve the discrepancy, and has been fulfilled in spite of the existence of technical criteria that challenge her alleged status as a fiscal resident in Spain before 2015.”
In November 2017, Shakira’s name appeared in the “Paradise Papers,” leaked files that revealed the offshore financial dealings of celebrities, politicians and corporations. That information, obtained by the the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, revealed that Shakira declared the Bahamas — where she reportedly owns a home — as her fiscal residence, and that money from the rights to her music is administered in countries known as tax havens, such as Malta and Luxembourg.
This past February, Shakira paid the Spanish government more than 20 million euros (almost $25 million dollars) in back taxes. According to the Spanish newspaper, that was for money owed only for the year 2011. The statement from Shakira’s rep concludes: “since there there is no longer any pending tax liability, the only issue under discussion at this time is the correct interpretation of the rule regarding when the artist became a tax resident in Spain,” noting that Shakira has always been “absolutely willing” to collaborate with the Tax Administration in order to resolve the differences.