The Tax Agency conducts a national macro-operation against tax fraud in the cosmetics sector

Operation ‘Nassus’

    • The result of previous checks in beauty and dermatology centres, together with new information gathered, has led to the launch of a macro-operation affecting 90 companies and 70 specialist doctors.
    • More than 440 Tax Agency employees have visited 92 premises in the 15 Autonomous Region common system.
    • About 40% of the specialists subject to verification have safes, and it is feared that in some places the customer is not even allowed to pay by card, as has already been detected in previous cases.

17 October 2019- Today, the Tax Agency has launched a major operation in the 15 Autonomous Community common system against tax fraud in the cosmetic surgery and dermatology sector.The operation, known as ‘Nassus’, involves the beginning of inspections of 90 companies and 70 individuals, mainly specialist doctors, but also people from their personal and family environment, through the appointment of officials from the Inspection area of the Agency throughout this day in 92 clinics in this sector.

The measure deployed affects premises located in Andalusia (12), Aragon (4), Asturias (2), the Balearic Islands (3), the Canary Islands (6), Cantabria (1), Castilla-La Mancha (4), Castilla y León (3), Catalonia (16), Extremadura (1), Galicia (10), Madrid (11), Murcia (3), La Rioja (1) and the Region of Valencia (15).

The 'Nassus' operation has been coordinated by the Financial and Tax Audit Department, with the participation of 370 employees from the Inspection area, including personnel from the Computer Audit Units, the UAI, as well as the support of police officers and 79 Customs Surveillance officers from the Tax Agency.

Background

The operation started today, and which will continue over the next few months with the development of the inspections that are now beginning, arises from a detailed analysis of the results of a series of checks carried out in recent years in different parts of the country on companies and professionals in the sector of cosmetic surgery and dermatology, in addition to obtaining new sectorial information related to tax.

It is also necessary to take into account the strong growth registered by the sector in recent years:Spain is ranked twelfth in the world in terms of cosmetic surgery, the fourth in Europe, with nearly 400,000 surgeries per year.

The analysis carried out by the Tax Agency researchers revealed that there was a significant volume of cover-up of real economic activity within the companies and specialists inspected, which was favoured by the use of cash as the main means of payment.

In some cases, and despite the large sums paid to cover cosmetic surgery operations, professionals did not even accept payment by bank card, which the Tax Agency’s researchers fear will be found to be true in several of the premises now inspected.

Thus, the accumulated experience made it advisable to carry out the present coordinated action at the national level, in order to have direct access to the documentation and accounting or real auxiliary information existing in the clinics and medical consultations, including the information processing computer systems.

Cash and safes

For the selection of the companies and individuals to be registered and inspected, the Agency took into consideration a number of economic ratios (some of the companies even declared losses in recent years, while their partners and managers -the doctors- showed clear external signs of purchasing power not in line with the company’s economic situation).

At the same time, for such a widespread use of cash as a means of collection, which logically hinders the traceability of operations, professionals had the advantage of a feature common to most of their clients:they are private individuals without the right to deduct any expenses for the treatments received.

According to the information available to the Agency, some of the professionals now being inspected had not been charging by card:they were receiving all payments via cash or, to a lesser extent, by transfer.In other cases, on the other hand, the percentage of card payments was particularly high, which could reveal that part of the cash income was being covered up.

In any case, and regardless of the different proportion of the means of collection used in each location, the use of cash among the inspected is clearly widespread.This is illustrated by the fact that approximately 40% of the individuals affected by the operation have safes in their property.

Deterrent effect

During the checks that are now beginning, the corresponding tax rates will be regularised, both in terms of VAT and Personal Income Tax and Corporation Tax, with analysis of the possible interposition of companies in the process of invoicing operations, as well as the tax consequences derived from holding, where appropriate, artificially, the ownership of assets and patrimonies for personal use through company structures.

However, in addition to facilitating the detection and regularisation of tax fraud, coordinated sectoral operations such as the one that is now beginning additionally pursue two objectives of interest to the Tax Agency.On the one hand, to compare the operation of the sector with facts and tests, 

having information on real economic ratios, cost structure, means of collection, etc.;on the other hand, to send a dissuasive message to the groups involved in these practices, which not only have an impact on the public coffers, but also seriously distort competition in the sector itself, so as to redirect their behaviour towards the correct payment of their tax obligations.

With these objectives in mind, in recent years the Agency has developed a total of 17 sectoral macro-operations coordinated at national level (without taking the Nassus operation into account), with more than 1,600 cases opened, of which more than 1,100 have already been completed, with a total liquidated amount of 258 million euros.The Agency plans to monitor the behaviour of these taxpayers in the years following the inspections.