Changes to the Freelance Quota in Spain 2023 — 2031

James McKenna
Escrito por James McKenna
el 01 de diciembre, 2022

The self-employed community in Spain has always looked begrudgingly at their regressive social security contributions. Commonly known as the freelance quota or cuota de autónomos, it sets the same minimum payment for everybody, no matter your income.

For low earners, this meant that once the discounts of the first couple of years wore off, you were thrown in the deep end with a churro for a paddle. 

But if you’re currently a freelancer in Spain, chances are you’ve heard about the changes to the freelance quota that will introduce a progressive payment system based on your earnings. Discussions over the past few years have sparked rumors and misinformation about how it works and what it means for you. 

Lucky for you, Xolo is here to clear up any confusion so you can handle your payments with confidence. We’ll take a deep dive into the new system to clear up any murky areas, before looking at the pros and cons of the new system so you can see how it affects you. 

But first, we’re going to take a look at some key questions about the freelance quota in Spain as a whole.

What is the freelance quota (la cuota de autónomos)?

Simply explained as your monthly contribution to social security in Spain, the freelance quota has traditionally been a static monthly payment that keeps you compliant in your life as a freelancer.

Isn’t the freelance quota just an unfair penalty for being self-employed?

Put simply, no.

The loudest in the group love repeating the myth that it is a needless payment that holds solos back. In fact, it represents your payments to the social security system — just like salaried workers pay every month in their paycheck.

The freelance quota goes toward services such as healthcare, maternity leave, accidents at work, and your retirement. Knowing this can help to sweeten the bitter pill at the end of the month.

How do expats pay their freelance quota in Spain?

If you’re new to the country, you first need to register as a freelancer in Spain. As part of that, you will register with the social security agency (TGSS) and set up a direct debit to pay your contributions. Alternatively, you can pay online via the TGSS website.

Why is the government introducing changes to the freelance quotas between 2023 — 2031?

Currently, self-employed social security contributions in Spain are almost unique in that they don’t reflect real incomes. While you could always choose to pay more, there was a minimum that applied to everybody across the board, whether you earned €100 or €100,000 a month. 

That minimum payment was the not-unconsiderable sum of €294. 

Freelancers and their unions have long bemoaned how unfair this system is (and they’ve got a point), so the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security, and Migration got to work on changing it. From 1 January 2023, the more you earn, the more you contribute to the system. 

An explainer on the new freelance quotas for 2023 — 2031

The first phase changes to the freelance quota will be introduced on 1 January 2023, with incremental updates every year to avoid a massive shock to the system. For now, José Luis Escrivá, the sponsor of the bill, has only shared concrete information on 2023 — 2025, which we’ve put into a handy table for you below.

Put simply, there are 15 income brackets in the new system, and each one has its own social security contribution. The lowest bracket is less than €670 (yes, you still have to pay your quota!) and the highest bracket is €6000 and above. 

Key takeaways

  • Anybody earning less than €900 per month will get a welcome reduction in their contribution — between €94 and €74 a month by 2025.
  • Those bringing in between €1300 to €1700 will continue paying the current minimum contribution of €294.
  • Earners over €1700 per month will see their freelance quota rise as of 2023.

 

Net income

2023

2024

2025

Quota

Change *

Quota

Change *

Quota

Change *

Up to €670

€230 

-€64 

€225

-€69 

€200 

-€94

From €670 to €900

€265

-€34

€250

-€44

€220 

-€74

From €900 to €1166.70

€275 

-€19

€267 

-€27

€260

-€34

From €1166.70 to €1300 

€291 

-€3 

€291 

-€3 

€291 

-€3 

From €1300 to €1500

€294 

€0

€294

€0 

€294 

€0 

From €1500 to €1700

€294

€0

€294

€0

€294 

€0

From €1700 to €1850

€310 

€16

€320 

€26 

€350 

€56 

From €1850 to €2030

€315

€21

€325

€31

€370

€76

From €2030 to €2330

€320

€26

€330

€36

€390

€96

From €2330 to €2760

€330

€36

€340

€46

€415

€121

From €2760 to €3190

€350

€56

€360

€66

€440

€146

From €3190 to €3620

€370

€76

€380

€86

€465

€171

From €3620 to €4050

€390

€102

€400

€106

€490

€196

From €4050 to €6000

€420

€126

€445

€151

€530

€236

More than €6000

€500

€122

€530

€236

€590

€296

 

FAQs: Changes to the freelance quota in Spain

How is the new freelance quota calculated?

If that table has put you in the denial phase of grief, we’d like to clarify a couple of misconceptions you might be clinging onto. 

Your social security contribution is calculated on your net income, not your gross income. Essentially this means your overall income minus expenses and taxes. 

And before you ask — your quota doesn’t count toward your expenses.

How do I know how much to pay each month as a freelancer in Spain?

One of the key advantages of the old system was that you never had to worry about payment. You just had to set up your standing order and let it tick over. This was a time-efficient process that made budgeting pretty simple. 

But with the new changes to the freelance quotas, solos whose earnings fluctuate every month are in a bit of a pickle. As a rule, your payment estimates will be based on previous income.

There are two options to pay your social security contributions in Spain from 2023 onwards:

  • The RED System

With a valid digital certificate, you can access the RED system and tell the TGSS how much you predict you will earn in the coming months. 

  • Stick to last year’s quota

Perhaps a simpler way of doing things, you can demonstrate masterly inactivity and simply allow your previous quota to roll over into 2023. 

What happens if my income isn’t stable?

Sure, the income of an autónomo has more ups and downs than a mountain stage on the Tour de France, so if you gain a new contract or drop a client, you can change your estimation every two months.

How will they know if I pay less?

Ahh, you’re onto the bargaining stage of grief. 

Trying to game the system is going to leave you wishing you hadn’t. Of course you can forecast a monthly income of €1000 while pocketing €5000, but you’ll have a fat bill to pay at the end of the year. 

This is because the TGSS and the tax agency (Agencia Tributaria) talk to each other around January or February, and balance the books. You’ll then face the following situations:

    • If you’ve paid less than you owe, you’ll have 30 days to pay it without any penalties or punishment.
    • If you’ve paid more than you owe, the TGSS will repay you the difference.
    • If you’ve paid more, and in 2022 you were already paying more than the minimum, you can waive repayment and stay on your preferred quota.

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Is there still a discounted rate for new freelancers in Spain?

Until 2022, the cuota de autónomos in Spain had always been a flat rate for everybody. However, there was also a nice incentive for newbies, who paid €60 per month for the first year, which gradually rose to the full amount of €294. 

Good news! With the changes to the freelance quota, first-time solos in Spain still get a reduced social security payment, and here’s what you need to know:

  • New self-employed workers can pay just €80 per month for the first 12 months of work. This is only applicable to those who reach the minimum income bracket. 
  • After the first year, you can extend the €80 monthly payment for another 12 months, as long as you don’t surpass the minimum wage (SMI) — €1116 gross at the time of writing. 

Is it worth registering before the changes to the freelance quota come into effect?

If you’ve got to grips with the main concepts here, you might have noticed this possible loophole. 

It all comes down to a simple judgment call on how much you expect to earn in your second year:

  • Register as a freelancer in 2022 to register for the lowest rate and get that sweet €60 monthly payment for your first year and an average of €170 in your second year.
  • Register as a freelancer in 2023 to enjoy the €80 reduced rate for your first year, and keep it going through your second year as long as you don’t go above the minimum wage.


So if you know you’re going to be a low earner for two years, it’s best to wait until 2023. But if you plan to hit the ground running, register as a freelancer in 2022 and save yourself €20 a month for your first year. 

Advantages of the changes to the freelance quota

Not everything the government does to freelancers is a bad thing. Here are the main advantages to the new social security payment system.

A progressive system is a fair system

Low earners have always seen becoming a freelancer in Spain as an impossible decision. And can you blame them? Why should someone earning €400 a month pay the same social security contributions as someone bringing in €4000? 

In real terms, people earning less than €670 per month will save €1128 over a year in 2025. Who would say no to that in these tough times?

Better pensions for the self-employed

On average, freelancers in Spain currently receive only 59.4% of their employed counterpart’s pensions. This is because, while solos can pay in a higher rate of contributions, 85% of them choose not to. Progressive payment brackets help to redress the balance, which is good news for solos in the long term.

A more secure pension system

Spain’s population is aging — and that puts a huge amount of pressure on the state pension system. The balance of those receiving pensions is increasing against those paying in, so something has to change. 

More equality for older autónomos

In the previous system, solos over the age of 47 could not choose a contribution base of less than €1035.90 or more than €2113.20. The new system removes the limitations along with the age discrimination it represents. 

Disadvantages of the new system

Of course, no major change to working conditions can please everybody. So now we’ll take a look into the pros and the cons of the new system so you can see how it affects you.

Being a freelancer is still a tough life

Great, you’re bringing in €900 and saving €74 on your social security contributions! But that still leaves you with €680 for the rest of the month, which doesn’t give you much wiggle room to think about growing your business. 

A common complaint from the solo community is that these payments don’t take into account the risk of entrepreneurship. This still leaves freelancers in a precarious position, not helped by the financial turmoil of this “permacrisis” era.

Key incentives have been removed

Setting up your own business is never easy, and having to choose between tipping over minimum wage or staying on your €80 contribution doesn’t exactly create an inspiring environment.

The changes to the freelance quota aren’t really all that fair

Sure, the table shows that lower earners will pay less and higher earners more. But as a proportion of income, it’s still a much better deal for top earners. As Julen Bollain pointed out on Twitter, someone earning €600 will pay €200 in 2025 — a chunky 33% of their income. At the other end of the scale, a top earner bringing in €6000 a month in 2025 will pay €590 — just 9.8%.

Xolo will always have your back

So what have we learned about the changes to the freelance quotas in Spain? 

  1. New legislation will never please everyone
  2. People on the breadline will still be on the breadline, but with a stick of butter now
  3. High earners will still be high earners, and now they’ll take any excuse to complain about it

But it’s not all struggle and strife in the freelance world!

Whichever salary bracket you find yourself in, Xolo will help you channel your valuable energy away from tedious admin tasks and into the fun side of your business. Whatever sector you’re rocking, Xolo will give you:

✔️A super simple invoicing platform
✔️FREE registration with social security and the tax authority
✔️A team of friendly local accountants to take care of your tax returns and answer any questions you have

What’s not to love? 

So if you need a team that knows all about the changes to the freelance quota and every other aspect of solo life, register for Xolo today and get a month’s free trial!

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About James

James McKenna has been a freelancer since 2017, working in subtitling, translation, and his main passion — writing. He loves nothing more than falling down a rabbit hole, a habit that has helped him specialize in areas as diverse as biotech, climate change, higher education, and business strategy.

Based in Barcelona, James learned the ropes the hard way, making mistakes that turned into valuable learning experiences. After working hard to establish himself, he is now working smart, and is always on the lookout for ways to streamline his business.