State Budget 2021 – tax havens

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The imposition of IMI and IMT for companies directly or indirectly based in so-called tax havens, approved in the State Budget, does not distinguish between the jurisdictions with which Portugal has double taxation (ADT) and information exchange (ATI) agreements from those in which complete opacity prevails in capital movements. Sovereign funds and other investors from Oman, the United Arab Emirates or Qatar as well as investors based in Hong Kong – all included in the list of tax havens but with ADT with Portugal – will be some of the hardest hit. The same happens with the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Mann or Panama, where the funds are established, which aggregate a large part of institutional investors worldwide.

Brexit – Stays of 90 days

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The commercial agreement established between the United Kingdom and the European Union will allow the mobility of European and British citizens for short stays (maximum 90 days consecutively). As of yet, there is still no agreement for longer stays. The agreement does not cover the right of UK nationals to enter (with or without a visa) to work, reside or remain in the EU, nor vice versa.

Sole Traders can make stage payments of VAT in 2021

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Self-employed workers in the Simplified Regime can use the exceptional programme that permits the payment of VAT in the first half of 2021 to be deferred in three- or six-monthly instalments. The decree that provides for this exceptional and temporary plan is one of the measures that aims to ensure liquidity to small businesses faced with a drop-in activity and invoicing due to the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.

State Budget 2021 – Masks and disinfectant gel enter as IRS medical expenses

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Expenses for masks, visors and disinfectant gel are now to be considered deductible health care expenses. If you buy individual protection equipment in an establishment that sells other products (such as supermarkets), you must ask for a separate invoice in order to deduct these expenses on your IRS return. In pharmacies, the deduction is automatic.

Brexit – Visiting UK Nationals eligible for “tax free” reimbursement

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Businesses in Portugal have prepared systems for non-resident UK nationals to participate in “tax free” purchases as of 01 January 2021. The plan allows for the recovery of VAT paid on eligible purchases when exiting Portugal. There is a minimum amount of €61.50 within an establishment to be entitled to “Tax Free” refunds. The tax is recoverable only on purchased products and not on services, such as hotels and restaurants.

Residency Registration for British Nationals

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Even in the year of the pandemic, many British nationals continue to seek out Portugal as a popular destination. The UK government has multiplied notices to UK citizens who reside in Portugal to have their documentation in order by 31 December. Currently, there are more than 50,000 British nationals residing in Portugal, ranking Portugal in sixth place behind Spain, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. Official data in 2019 from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) indicated there were 34,358 UK citizens officially residents in Portugal. SEF officials explain that from January to October 2020, a further 6,469 new Residency Permits were issued to UK nationals for a total of 40,827 current residents. Since 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum, 19,384 Britons registered in Portugal. Up until last October, the increase reached 111%.

The British embassy in Lisbon recognises that there are, in fact, many more Britons living in Portugal than the official figures would indicate. By the end of the year, many more are expected to register officially with SEF. What is certain is that now all will have to deal with the new bureaucracy necessary to remain in the country in January 2021 and beyond. At this point, the embassy also does not have definitive record of the number of British nationals who have already completed all the necessary steps.

Portuguese bureaucracy

At the top of the concerns of the British in Portugal are upcoming changes. One of the reasons for the aggressive advertising campaign to ask British citizens to take care of all necessary documentation is also due to Portuguese bureaucracy. There may be delays in scheduling services as well as problems in accessing services due to the pandemic. The embassy clarifies that Portugal does not oblige UK nationals to apply for a new residency status according to the current agreement. However, as there are many who are still unregistered, it is important that everyone needs to become compliant to protect their rights after the transition period at the end of December. In October, the embassy, in partnership with SEF, launched a joint campaign asking the British living in Portugal to register where they reside by the end of the year.

Driving licences 

You can drive in Portugal with a UK driving licence until it expires. You must register your address in Portugal with IMT services within 60 days of settling in Portugal. The IMT online (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes – IMT) allows for the exchange of a UK licence for a Portuguese one. Even if you are unable to affect the exchange immediately, British citizens have 90 days after 1 January, so no road test should be necessary.

Healthcare

Another concern is access to the Portuguese National Health System. Coverage may be dependent on your residency status. If British nationals are registered as residents in Portugal, they should have full access to the  Portuguese National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS).

Passports

British embassies are no longer involved if a passport expires. Renewal is now carried out online. The embassy warns that British citizens living in Portugal that they must have a valid passport after 1 January 2021.

Implementation

The British Government has posted a dedicated website called “Living in Portugal” (gov.uk/livinginportugal or sef.pt/en). The embassy indicates that the Portuguese Government is responsible for implementing the Exit Agreement. British citizens are accountable for ensuring that they have their documentation in order before the end of the transition period.

The State Budget 2021: what we know so far

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The proposed 2021 state budget, fashioned with strong socialist leanings, has been delivered to the National Assembly for debate and approval before the end of 2020. After three months of negotiations between political parties on the Left, the document focuses on strengthening support for the unemployed, single-parent families, the self-employed and informal domestic workers. In other words, the upcoming  budget will focus on  the groups hardest hit by the Covit-19 pandemic.

Debt forgiveness

Among several measures meeting the left wing coalition demands, the Government has decided to writeoff old debts to Social Security and recover furloughed railway workers. In addition, the government promises to hire 3,000 non-teaching assistants for schools. Here is an initial preview of some of the key points in the State Budget for 2021.

Social support: facing the pandemic

New extraordinary social support measures are expected to confront the drop in household income. It will be a benefit that will cover employees and domestic workers for one year and sole traders for six months.

Social Security: Farewell to 20-year-old debts

The oldest and smallest debts to Social Security may be forgiven starting next year. If passed, the Government is authorized to forgive amounts when there is a debt for contributions and  benefits that are 20 years old or more or that are less than €50 and more than 10 years old.

Unemployment: Benefit to €505

The reference value of installments is €501.16 and the minimum amount is €50. The lower limit for unemployment benefits will increase from the current €438.81 to €505. It is also foreseen that public daycare centres will be free of charge for students in the 2nd income bracket.

Health: Repeated hiring

The Government announced the plan to recruit 4,200 professionals for the National Health Service (SNS). By the end of the first quarter of 2021, the needs for medical professionals will be assessed to determine who may benefit from a risk subsidy of €219.40 payable every other month. Also there will be an investment of €90 million for the sector to improve facilities and equipment in health centres and family health units.

School support staffing

The Government pledges to hire 3,000 professionals, promising a revision of the criteria for calculating non-teaching staffing in schools.

Security forces: €10 million allocated to housing for police

The Government intends to guarantee basic living conditions for police and other security forces who are displaced by their job placement. The plan is to launch an investments of €10 million in housing for police in 2021.

Tourism: Credits for those who spend in hotels

According to the proposal, visitors will accumulate credits during one quarter, amounting to the total VAT incurred in consumption in the sectors of hospitality, culture and restaurants. Subsequently, holiday makers can use this value during the following quarter in consumption in those same sectors.

US tax rules for a Delaware LLC

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If you are the owner of a Delaware Limited Liability Company (LLC), it is essential that you know what you have and what your responsibilities are. Requirements are in constant flux and need up-to-date procedures. If you have held your company for several years, current compliance obligations may be a far cry from what you started with. Failure to comply can be both time-consuming and expensive.

US Federal taxes

A legal Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Delaware with more than one member (shareholder) has a default status of a tax partnership. The LLC is not in itself a tax paying entity but passes any taxation on income and expenses to its shareholders as tax partners. These non-US resident tax members are responsible for assessment on any net profits at 30% of their US-sourced income.

As a non-resident owner of a Delaware LLC, foreign-sourced income is not assessable in the US. However, there are still strict reporting requirements. Members must file 1040 NR individual income tax returns even though there may be, in fact, no taxable US income. These annual reporting requirements were introduced in 2017. As part of the process, shareholders need Individual Tax Identification Numbers (“ITIN”) which can be obtained at the time of filing the tax declaration. Application for the ITINs involves submitting “apostilled” documentation including reporting on identity. Non-compliance carries a fine of $10,000.

Delaware State Taxes

Unlike most states in the US, Delaware does not require an LLC to file an annual report. However, companies must pay an annual “franchise” tax. By default, since LLCs are “pass-thru” tax entities, the responsibility for paying federal and state income taxes “passes thru” the LLC itself and falls on the individual LLC members (shareholders). Currently, the State of Delaware imposes a flat annual tax of $300 on LLCs. The levy is due on or before 01 June with a $200 penalty for late payments.

Under certain circumstances, owners of an LLC may choose to have their business treated as a taxable corporation. The State of Delaware, like almost every other state, taxes corporate income. Corporation income tax in Delaware is a flat 8.7% of federal taxable income.

“FBAR” compliance

If a Delaware Company has a financial interest in or signature authority over an overseas financial account, the US requires annual reporting to the Internal Revenue Service called “FBAR”. This obligation can undermine any element of confidentiality in addition to adding another on-going compliance commitment and cost. “FBAR” non-compliance is subject to a $10,000 penalty.

The Alternative

The litany of problems goes on and on. Redomiciliation can be an attractive alternative to the ever-growing list of headaches associated with Delaware LLCs. When a company moves its base of operations to Portugal, there is no asset transfer and no assessment takes place. Only the headquarters and effective management change. Assets remain securely within the Company. In addition, there is often an opportunity to uplift the share value of the LLC which can be doubly beneficial due to the fact that many Delaware companies understated share capital at the time of formation. Annual running procedures are stable, and costs are modest, often a fraction of charges for Offshore Companies.