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Culture minister Màxim Huerta resigns over 'tax issues'
CURRENTLY the shortest-lived minister in Spain's democracy, author and newspaper columnist Màxim Huerta has quit his role as head of culture, media and sports after leaked reports of how he has a previous charge of tax evasion against his name.
Between 2006 and 2008 inclusive, Huerta – who writes for the left-wing daily newspaper 20 Minutos – avoided paying €218,000 in income tax by setting up a front company for his annual declarations, meaning he was liable for less.
At the time, Huerta was a TV presenter, and the case was finally resolved last year by the regional High Court of Justice in Madrid with a verdict ordering him to refund the unpaid tax and stump up a fine to the tune of €366,000.
The dormant company was 'open' from 2006 to 2016 inclusive, but Huerta used it as a 'structure' for his tax payments for the first three only.
During these three years, he earnt around €800,000 for presenting the Telecinco show El Programa de Ana Rosa – which is still running and, famously, recently featured stage saboteur Jimmy Jump camping outside ex-Catalunya president Carles Puigdemont's prison cell in Germany.
Huerta insists that his dispute with the tax authority was due to 'a change in fiscal criteria' and that he had always been 'up to date' with his dues.
“Invoicing through a company was common practice in the profession and was not considered illegal at the time,” he insists.
“But the tax office decided to review a multitude of cases of professionals and creators who had paid their dues using this structure.”
Huerta called his recent exposure a 'witch-hunt' and said he had 'paid the fine twice over' – once in cash, and now with his new job which has only lasted seven days since he was sworn in on June 7.
A role he says he accepted 'knowing he would be a target for critics', Huerta said president Pedro Sánchez's opponents 'would do anything to undermine' his new government and that it was for this reason he had opted to resign, as the cabinet – which has only just started work this month – 'needed transparency' and for its members to be whiter than white.
“Times are changing and the innocent ones prefer to leave and not to tarnish those who are trying to create a new and clean form of politics,” Huerta said in a press conference this evening.
He said his conscience was clear and that he had not committed fraud, but that 'we live in a society drowning in noise, in discrediting people and in misinformation with a vested interest'.
Huerta thanked Sánchez for the compliment of giving him the role of representing Spain in the arts, entertainment and sports, and said he had taken it on 'convinced he would be able to serve his country and the world of culture'.
“I'm up to date with my tax affairs. Following the advice of my accountants, like so many others in the creative industries, I invoiced via a limited company and that was not illegal at the time. When the tax office decided to change its criteria, there were many who called its retroactive inspections a 'witch-hunt' against those who criticised the government of the time.
“I attended the tax office hearing when they summoned me, convinced of my innocence, and appealed against the verdict.
“This is not a sentence for fraud – it's a fine that I lost to the tax office like so many others in the industry.”
The photograph shows Màxim Huerta with the woman he calls his 'role model', the late, prolific author Ana María Matute, who passed away in 2013 aged 88.
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