Madrid’s Central Court for Administrative Proceedings no. 7 issued a ruling on 12 July 2018 ordering Spain’s Ministry of the Treasury and Public Administrations to disclose the agreement signed on 4 May 2017 between the Government of Spain and the Basque Autonomous Community on the settlement of the tax contribution in previous years and the setting of the five-year contribution through to 2021, considering that the access to information should be understood in a broad sense and that any restrictions on it should be of an exceptional nature. A researcher submitted a request to the Ministry for the purpose of conducting a study on the financing of the autonomous communities and the system of tax contributions. The Ministry rejected the request, whereby the researcher had no other choice but to appeal to the Transparency and Good Governance Board (CTBG in its Spanish initialism), which ruled in the researcher’s favour in a decision issued on 15 September 2017 that was, in turn, contested by the Ministry.
The Court argues that “in any case, there is clearly a greater public interest in obtaining that information, which should prevail over the hypothetical lack of virtuality of the agreement or the need for other proceedings or actions for the effective enshrinement of the agreement. Pursuant to the above, and assuming the “strict, when not restrictive” interpretation that is to be made both of the restrictions on access to information and of the reasons for the refusal to process the request, the present appeal is therefore upheld”.
In turn, the Supreme Court, in a judgement delivered on 3 July 2018, ratifies the Basque region’s right to establish assumptions of responsibility other than those provided for in Spain’s General Law on Taxation [Ley General Tributaria], confirming the doctrine issued by the Higher Court of Justice of the Basque Country through its lower court ruling. The precept questioned declares the joint responsibility of effective or legal directors, partners with a direct or indirect holding of 20 percent of capital, joint owners or investors, and their family members up to the second degree, of those undertakings that have practiced withholdings that remain pending payment, for the amounts of those withholdings they have deducted in their self-assessed tax returns for personal income tax.