The Supreme Court has referred Article 12 of Law 13/1997, enacted by the Regional Parliament in Valencia, to the Constitutional Court for possible infringement of Articles 14, 31.1 and 139.1 of the Spanish Constitution.
The Article in question confers higher levels of tax deductions to those beneficiaries of estates who are resident in the region. The Supreme Court made the decision to refer the matter after finding that :
1) As between inheritance tax payers in Valencia that are subject to the relevant law there exists no palpable difference i.e. they are all equal before the law
2) The variation in the treatment of different taxpayers on the basis of their residence (or non-residence) in the region, as provided for in Article 12 of the relevant law, does not achieve any goal that may be termed constitutionally legitimate and accordingly infringes Articles 14 and 31.1 of the Spanish Constitution
3) That the differential treatment in the fiscal benefits established under Article 12 of Law 13/1997 that derive exclusively as a result of being non-resident constitutes unequal treatment and accordingly violates Article 139.1 of the Spanish Constitution.
Article 12 bis. 1 states:
The taxpayer shall benefit from a 75% discount of the value of declared assets and valuable rights as declared for the purposes of inheritance and gift tax:
a) where the acquisition of the assets is an inheritance by a person included in Group I or II (immediate family member) who is resident in the Valencia Region.
The case was brought by a beneficiary to an estate who was resident outside of the Valencia region but whose siblings were all resident in Valencia. This meant that the appellant could not benefit from the 75% deduction in value of assets being applied before their taxable value was calculated and therefore had to pay a much higher level of inheritance tax compared with other sibling beneficiaries under the same will.
Should the relevant Article be ruled unconstitutional it could have important implications for all those Autonomous Communities that require residence in the region before being allowed to benefit from generous regional deductions to the taxable value of inherited assets.
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