The value of tax benefits to non-habitual residents keeps growing according to the “Tribunal de Contas” (National Audit Office). In 2018, there were €548 million in NHR exemptions granted to foreign pensioners. Nevertheless, this apparent tax giveaway would have never existed if the NHR regime had not attracted these foreigners to Portugal in the first place. For example, these pensioners paid almost €80 million to the state in Individual Income Tax (“IRS “) on non-exempt income. In addition, there are IMT, IMI and VAT levies which the Government collects above and beyond the scope of the Non-Habitual Residency scheme.
There are two types of Fiscal Representation in Portugal:
- – Fiscal Representation in Personal Income Tax (“IRS”)
- – Fiscal Representation in VAT
Appointing a Fiscal Representative
It is mandatory to appoint a Fiscal Representative whenever a third-country national who is not resident in Portugal has income arising in Portugal. Alternatively, although residing in the national territory, an individual is absent for a period exceeding six months and obtains income in Portugal subject to Portuguese taxation. For a non-resident to start the process of appointing a tax representative in Portugal, the taxpayers must have a Fiscal Number (“NIF”) and a password (“senha”) to be identified on the Finanças Portal. Continue reading
There may be a variety reasons for you to discontinue an “AL” business: a) you need your place for yourself; b) the property may be up for sale; c) the bureaucracy may be too cumbersome for you; d) competition may have driven down prices and the activity is no longer profitable, e) other. Whatever the motive that you no longer wish to continue to let short-term furnished accommodations to holidaymakers, there are several steps that you will need to take to make the change: Continue reading
The withdrawal of a property from a Local Lodging tourist activity was already potentially subject to capital gains assessment under previous legislation. However, the way the law was drafted left room for doubt as to the exact point that the tax would be due. In the 2018 State Budget, this doubt was clarified, making it unambiguous that there is deferred payment of capital gains tax when the property is further assigned on an ongoing basis to income from category F (long-term rental). Without this abeyance, a Capital Gain may be attained in the year of cessation of the business assignment. Regardless, reporting is done in your annual “IRS” return.
For IRS declarations running from April through June, there are several updates to take into account in Annex B (freelancers), with more tables to complete: 17A, 17B, 17C and 17D. All are destined to declaring expenses and charges borne by the independent worker in the exercise of a business activity (income, electricity, water, transportation, communications and insurance, among others). They stem from modifications to the Simplified Regime introduced in the 2018 State Budget.
The guidelines of the Doctrine Declaration (“Ficha Doutrinária”) dated 04 December 2017 clarify tax liabilities based on nº 5 of article 81º of the IRS Code. Assessment of income from foreign sources classified under categories E (capital), F (long-term rent) and G (capital gains) earned by taxable persons considered to be Non-Habitual Residents follows the exemption method where the source country has the power to tax this income under the applicable Double Taxation Agreement. This rule infers that the tax exclusion does not hold for jurisdictions without such an agreement in place. Tax-exempt income must still be reported annually in Portugal to determine the final tax rate to be applied to total aggregate income subject to assessment.
Following the automatic IRS, the “AT” advances to automate VAT in three phases.
The Tax and Customs Authority has taken the first step in automating the VAT declaration, making available pre-filling of certain amounts in the fields related to “transfers of goods and services” with tax paid and those corresponding to “Tax in favour of the State”. Continue reading
Returning ex-residents will benefit from a 50% exclusion on earnings from salaried employment (Category A) and business and professional income (Category B). Only half of the income will be taxed under the proposed changes in IRS rules. According to the State Budget Proposal for 2019, this regime will apply for five years from the year in which the citizen meets the eligibility conditions. Any entity responsible for withholding income earned by returning former residents will be subject to a withholding tax on half of the attributed income, thus ensuring full application of the tax break.
After the hubbub of the summer, many Local Lodging owners wish to book long-term rentals to assure low-season occupancy over the quieter winter months. As always, there are pros and cons, particularly when distinguishing between long and short term lets is not always easy.
Reporting Long-Term Rentals
Under current legislation, bureaucracy has mushroomed in recent years for long-term rentals:
- a) Registration of Rental Contract – Mandatory Rental Contracts must be reported via Modelo 2. This form identifies the parties, the property, the price and the terms of the agreement.
- b) Stamp Duty – Stamp Duty is due on the rental contract at the rate of 10% of one month’s income. Every time there is a change in the contract, Stamp Duty must be paid again so automatic renewals, if appropriate, should be included in the original contract to avoid repetitive payment of tax.
- c) On-going Electronic Rental Receipts – Similar to Electronic Green Receipts, Electronic Rent Receipts must be issued in Portuguese in duplicate on a monthly basis via the Finanças Copies are issued to the tenant with a second copy retained for the landlord’s records.
- d) Annual Rental income summary – In the following January, landlords must declare an annual summary of rents received via Model 44.
- e) “IRS” Declaration – An annual personal income tax declaration will necessitate completion of Annex F. All claimed deductible expenses must be accompanied by original invoices that include both the name of the landlord and the corresponding tax number.
- f) VAT – On the positive side, long-term rentals are VAT exempt and require no VAT reporting, potentially saving time and money.
As a tourist accommodation, a Local Lodging unit must: a) be a furnished and equipped facility, b) be available to the general public, c) meet specific health and safety standards and d) limit stays to less than 30 days.
However, there is nothing improper about a guest checking out after a month, then checking back in for another 30-day period. If this procedure is adopted, the owner can continue the “AL” operation on a year-round basis, avoiding the additional bureaucracy associated with Category F. In addition, the on-going use of the property under Local Lodging avoids the overlap and potential contradictions of property usage in two distinct business categories within the same fiscal year.
Beyond Stamp Duty and VAT, the income tax calculation for each activity is substantially different. In Portugal, rental income is taxed residentially under Category F (Income from Immoveable Property) while Local Lodging is assessed commercially under Category B (Business Income).
For a Local Lodging activity, most owners are assessed under the “Simplified Regime” where they receive a flat exemption of 65% on gross income. Residents then add the remaining 35% to other taxable forms of income and are assessed at marginal rates. Non-Residents have the standard levy of 25%, leaving a final tax to pay of 8.75% of gross business income.
Under Category F (long-term rentals), Non-Residents are taxed at a flat 25%. Residents may elect to be assessed autonomously at a flat 28% or aggregate this income with other sources and be taxed at marginal rates.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. Some owners will find rolling over a one-month winter “AL” let to be a straightforward solution. Others will be willing to endure the doubled-up bureaucracy of opening a new winter long-term lease as a solution that merits the extra time and effort. Faced with a difficult choice, professional guidance is always the order-of-the-day.