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.
Settling cross-border tax conflicts within the European Union will follow new guidelines that entered into legislation as of 01 July as announced by the EU Commission. According to a recent directive, taxpayers confronted with double tax disagreements within the EU that arise from differing interpretations of bilateral tax treaties can initiate a joint agreement procedure, leading countries to either settle the issues or accept a arbitration made by an independent advisory committee. The criteria applies to income or capital earned on or after 01 January 2018.
Bermuda, Aruba, and Barbados have been on the EU’s embargoed list since March because of loopholes associated with money laundering schemes. Under the EU’s fair tax criteria, companies must have “economic substance”, not be just a “letterbox” entity set up to take advantage of low tax practices. The current EU blacklist has 12 countries. De-listed jurisdictions are placed on a halfway ‘grey list’ under close scrutiny but are no longer be subject to sanctions.
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.
The Stability Program for 2019-23 anticipates €31 million in additional tax revenues from the new maximum tax bracket for AIMI, applicable to Ratable Values (“VPT”) above €2 million. The Additional to Municipal Property Tax was first created in 2017 targeting luxury properties. Beyond the standard “IMI” assessment, Companies are charged AIMI at a rate of 0.4% on the sum of the Rateable Values of these properties. Residences held by entities in tax havens pay 7.5%. In the case of individual ownership, an AIMI rate of 0.7% is applied on “VPT” totals above €600,000 (or double this amount for married and cohabiting couples who opt for joint “IRS” declarations). When the “VPT” values exceed €1 million, the tax rate increases to 1%. The new bracket, created in the recent State Budget to be applied for the first time in 2019, foresees an AIMI tax rate of 1.5%, applicable to “VPT” amounts above €2 million.
Opinions and proposals, shared on the “Great Debate” website (https://granddebat.fr/) – an initiative by French President Emmanuel Macron to respond to the protests of the “yellow vests” – refer to migrating French nationals who enjoy Portuguese Non-Habitual Residency (“NHR”) as “tax exiles” and to Portugal as “a fiscal eldorado” within Europe. Some participants contend that this double relief (tax exemption for pensions both at source in France and for 10 years in Portugal with “NHR” status) is intrinsically unjust, depriving both states of much-needed tax revenues and increasing the burden on paying taxpayers. The scheme is seen as promoting unfair tax competition among the Member States of the European Union.
Following the general approval by the Algarve Mayors’ group, AMAL, the Council of Lagos is moving forward with a €1.5-a-night Tourist Tax. Mayor Maria Joaquina Matos justified the measure, declaring that the tax will help pay for local projects, cover a lack of investment by central government and contribute to making the region more competitive.
Staying in a hotel or local lodging accommodation in Lisbon became more expensive as of the first of the year due to the increase in the Municipal Tourist Tax from one to two Euros. The local municipality estimates additional revenues from the measure of ±_35 million in 2019.
The levy on holidaymakers will be applied to all guests over the age of 13 who stay up to 5 consecutive nights in hotels, apartments, villages and tourist developments, campsites or local lodging establishments in the municipality of Óbidos. The town council hopes to collect ±€200,000 annually in fresh revenues with the new charge.
Despite an increase of three tenths, Portuguese taxation remained below the European average last year. In Portugal, the weight of taxes reached 40.2% of GDP and in the Euro Zone, 41.4%. France had the heaviest load (48.4%) and Ireland the lightest (23.5%).