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The Supreme Court rules that Carlos Herrera used a "screen society" to save taxes

The announcer Carlos Herrera has lost his battle with the Treasury. The Supreme Court has issued a ruling establishing that the COPE star used a “front company” between 2006 and 2007, when he worked at Onda Cero, to pay less taxes. The judges agree with the State Attorney’s Office and accuse the journalist of paying most of his earnings those years through Corporate Tax, at a lower rate than would have been due to Personal Income Tax Physical (IRPF) if you had made your statement correctly in those years. The announcer’s environment emphasizes that he has not been sanctioned and that he does not have any debt with the treasury.

Justice certifies that El Rubius used a company to pay less taxes and fined him 23,000 euros

Justice certifies that El Rubius used a company to pay less taxes and fined him 23,000 euros


The lawsuit was revealed by elDiario.es and dates back to the time when Herrera directed the morning program of Onda Cero, the Atresmedia group station. The Tax Agency focused in 2010 on the business network through which he channeled his income: a company of the announcer called La Rehos SL that received more than three million euros per year in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Less than 15% of that money went directly to the announcer’s pockets while the rest was distributed among three other companies equally linked to Herrera. The journalist explained throughout the lawsuit that some of them had their own resources and workers and that they were used to hire sound technicians, documentation, advice, control of collaborators or the preparation of scripts.

The Treasury understood that this had actually been a strategy to pay less taxes. The companies were taxed by the more benevolent Corporation Tax at 30% while Herrera had to do it by personal income tax, with higher rates of up to 45%. Between the two years, he directly received only 800,000 euros of the 6.4 million that his company received from Uniprex, the name of Atresmedia at that time, as work income.

At first, the National Court sided with the announcer and annulled the Treasury settlements on the statements of his company in those two years, but the Supreme Court, as elDiario.es has learned, has upheld an appeal from the Lawyers of the State giving the reason definitively to the treasury. The National Court, says the section specialized in taxes of the third room of the Supreme Court, was “voluntaristic” in agreeing with the announcer.

“Unnecessary interposition of a shell company”

The Supreme Court analyzes the business network controlled at that time by Herrera and understands that his company did not have its own means to carry out Herrera en la Onda without the “essential participation” of Herrera himself, without adding any “added value”.

The judges understand that it is a “simulation” having discovered “the unnecessary interposition of a company interposed or screen, with no other purpose than to allow a notable reduction in the income of the natural person and its taxation”, in reference to the tax bill of the own announcer.

Creating and interposing this company had, says the Supreme Court with Francisco Javier Navarro as speaker, various effects: it was assigned “a kind of salary” that did not even reach 15% of everything disbursed by Atresmedia, amounts that do not coincide “or far”. It was also possible to deduct expenses through the Corporation Tax that would not have been deductible by personal income tax. And finally, the tax savings: “It is taxed at a fixed tax rate and less than the marginal income tax,” settles the Supreme Court.

This distribution of income is not reasonable for the Supreme Court, taking into account that the contract to make the program “could have been entered into directly, at one time, between Uniprex, as the radio company that manages Onda Cero, and Mr. Herrera” . The distribution percentages “do not seem to correspond to the market value” and the result is that at that time he underpaid taxes, although the announcer’s entourage already highlighted weeks ago that he does not owe any money to the Treasury nor has he been penalized.

Warning for the use of “front” companies

The Supreme Court announced at the time that it was admitting the appeal of the State Attorney’s Office to go beyond the case of Carlos Herrera and analyze whether, in general, the use of these interposed companies was correct. The answer, details the ruling of the sentence that this newspaper has been able to analyze, is negative.

On the one hand, it establishes that if the company used, like that of the broadcaster, does not have its own means to carry out a service of a personal nature –in this case presenting a radio program– the service will be considered “substantially the same” for tax purposes. And therefore it cannot be taxed through the company for Corporation Tax, but through the broadcaster as Personal Income Tax.

The regulations on these taxes changed in 2007, so a second part of the ruling is also dedicated to endorsing the performance of the Tax Agency in terms of the taxes of that second year analysed. Along the way, the Supreme Court ruling discards all the defense arguments of Carlos Herrera’s company that did serve him in the first instance.

For example, the announcer used inspections from later years when, already working at COPE, the Treasury had upheld his allegations, understanding that there were currently no tax savings on his part. The judges do not deny this aspect but understand that “it does not change things” because of these subsequent exercises “everything is unknown” and cannot lead to the nullity of the inspection process.

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Written by Editor TLN

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