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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finanças will lower IRS withholding to increase disposable income for workers in 2021. These measures should reach 2 million Portuguese taxpayers. However, tax authorities plan to settle accounts in the following year. Also, unemployment benefits will rise €60 for those earning the minimum wage.
The EU Commission announced that American travellers will need a new type of “travel authorisation” – a European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS – to visit the European Schengen Area beginning in 2021. Currently, US citizens can travel in Europe for up to 90 days with a valid passport without any visa requirements.
The new travel document will be valid for three years allowing for multiple entries into the Schengen Area. With ETIAS, travellers will need a passport, complete an online application and pay a fee of US$7. In most cases, approval should take only a few minutes.
News reports first called the process a “visa”, but authorities have been quick to clarify the semantics. Officials state that ETIAS is simply a “travel authorisation” for visa-free visitors, similar to the US system (Electronic System for Travel Authorization – ESTA) to screen people in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).