An official-looking letter, attached to the gate of one’s property, is never good news, is it? That proved to be the case last week, when we found a notice from the Agencia Tributària de les Illes Baleares, wedged into the gate. It was written in Catalan, which meant we didn’t instantly understand it. Like many foreigners who move to Mallorca, we studied Castilian Spanish in preparation for the move, not realising back then that Catalan – or the local Mallorcan dialect of it – is the official language. Interestingly, 25 per cent of the population in our municipality is foreign and probably more likely to speak Castilian than Catalan. I imagine that the sale of Catalan dictionaries is booming.
Paper, paper everywhere . . .
Luckily, we both speak some French which, with our reasonable Spanish, helps us to understand some written Catalan, but we still needed a session with the Catalan dictionary to work out exactly what this latest piece of paper (oh, there have been others) was all about. It seems that records of rural properties here need some considerable updating and this is an exercise to bring everything up to date (and make sure we’re all paying the correct property taxes). For people who have carried out illegal building works, it’s definitely not good news. Thankfully, our illegal building – a story for another day – was subsequently legalised (at great expense and effort).
Keen to get this all sorted as quickly as possible, we’ve spent quite a few days preparing all the documents that we’ve been requested to present to the local Tributària office within one month of the date of the notice. Photocopies of our deeds, building permits, receipt for local municipal taxes, identification papers etc have all been made. The Boss has been tying himself in knots with his steel industrial measuring tape, working out the dimensions of the rooms and drawing floor plans. And we’ve had to take photographs (size 10 x 15 cms specified) of every external aspect of the house and the small casita that houses our generator and solar power equipment. It all amounts to quite a bundle of papers, that will join hundreds of others in the system and probably contribute to the loss of another rain forest somewhere.
We hadn’t been singled out for this special attention: within half an hour of digesting the contents of our notice, an English neighbour and holiday home owner here was standing on our doorstep, anxiously clutching his piece of paper, with no idea what it was about. It didn’t take long to find out that every property around us had also been served. There were international phone calls and emails to inform friends who own holiday homes here but are not expected to be back on the island in time to meet the compliance deadline.
It’s all taken a surprising amount of time over the past week. And that’s before we arrive at the Tributària office, where there’ll no doubt be a long queue awaiting us . . .