Pop star faces charges for allegedly using offshore company to avoid paying taxes in 2018
Spanish prosecutors have charged Colombian pop star Shakira with two counts of tax evasion, alleging she failed to pay more than $7 million in taxes in Spain in 2018.
The new charges come as Shakira is already facing allegations of tax evasion spanning from 2012 to 2014 in a separate case. Prosecutors argue the singer was living in Spain during these years and was therefore required to pay taxes in the country, despite having an official residence in the Bahamas at the time.
What are the new allegations?
According to court documents released on September 27, Spanish prosecutors claim Shakira used an offshore company based in a tax haven to avoid paying her full taxes in Spain in 2018.
The company, which has not been officially named, is alleged to have been set up to hide income and ownership of assets, including Shakira’s assets. Prosecutors say this allowed the singer to claim residency in another country to evade her tax duties in Spain, where she is said to have spent most of the year.
If found guilty, Shakira could face a fine of up to €8 million ($7.3 million) and may receive a jail sentence of over three years, though it’s unlikely for a first-time offender to serve prison time for a sentence that short under Spanish law.
What is the first tax evasion case about?
The earlier allegations center around the timeframe from 2012 to 2014, claiming Shakira was a resident of Spain for most of those years due to living with her partner Gerard Piqué in Barcelona.
Prosecutors argue she was required to pay taxes in Spain and not in lower-tax jurisdictions like the Bahamas or Panama, where she claims official residence. This first case seeks over $16 million in unpaid taxes and penalties from the singer.
A trial date has been set for November 2023 where Shakira will have the opportunity to plead her case in court. She has continued to deny any wrongdoing in both cases.
Experts weigh in
Tax experts following the case say it highlights Spain’s increased vigilance in pursuing high-profile individuals like Shakira who they believe exploit tax loopholes to avoid paying their share.
“This sends a message that Spain will not tolerate tax evasion from wealthy citizens,” Juan Silva, a professor of tax law at IE University in Madrid, told the New York Times.
Meanwhile, Shakira’s legal team maintains she has always acted on the advice of financial experts and complied with tax obligations. A statement on her website this week reiterated she is confident her innocence will be proven.
Only time will tell how the courts ultimately rule in what is sure to be a high-profile battle between the music superstar and Spanish tax authorities. Stay tuned for updates as the cases progress.