Many clients I have helped have been paying tax in the wrong country, often because of incorrect advice received in the past, or just because they were not aware of the rules.
It is critical to establish your tax residency position to avoid complications and possible penalties in future. I discuss these issues in this post and my next post later this week, with the latter focusing specifically on Portuguese tax residency.
If you are a Portuguese tax resident you are required to declare, and pay tax on, your worldwide income and gains in Portugal. If you are non-resident, then you are only liable to pay tax in Portugal on Portuguese source income.
If you have assets and/or income in more than one country, you will always have a “controlling tax authority” (CTA). This is not based on where most of your assets are located, where income is earned, ‘where you have always paid tax’ or where you ‘choose to declare tax’. Your CTA is normally the jurisdiction where you spend most time in that given tax year i.e. where you are tax resident.
Having said this, you may have to pay tax in more than one country. For example, if you are permanently living in Portugal and you have rental income generated in the UK, you will have to pay tax on that rental income in the UK first. However, as Portugal is your country of tax residence, you will also have to report the income in Portugal and potentially pay tax. Similarly, if you own and run a UK business, you may have to declare and pay tax and social security in Portugal instead of the UK if you are resident in Portugal.
Paying tax in the wrong country may not only result in heavy penalties but could also mean that you are paying more tax than you should and may affect any state pension, healthcare or social security rights you have.
There are rules in place between most countries to avoid tax being paid twice (double taxation agreements) but generally the highest rate of tax will always remain payable.