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Is Portugal a tax haven in Europe?

By Mark Quinn - Topics: Portugal
This article is published on: 3rd November 2022

Portugal has long attracted expatriates looking for warmer climes, good food and a relaxing pace of life; but in recent years, the wide range of entry visas and attractive tax breaks for new residents have seen Portugal’s popularity soar.

With standard tax rates ranging from 14.5% to 53%, Portugal can either be crippling or a tax haven depending on how and where you structure your wealth.

New residents
Portugal introduced the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) scheme in 2009 and made updates in 2020. It offers new residents to the country the potential for very low (or no) tax on pensions, capital gains and certain types of income for 10 years.

The greatest draws for expatriates are the favourable taxation of pension income: 10% for post-31st March 2020 NHRs (0% for pre), 0% tax on foreign dividend income and a 20% income tax rate on earned income for those working in Portugal in jobs deemed as ‘highly valued’ by the Portuguese government.

Another opportunity is for those with investment property portfolios. NHR can exempt capital gains tax in Portugal, which under normal circumstances would otherwise be taxed at progressive rates.

Existing residents
For those without NHR, Portugal can still be a tax-efficient home depending on how you structure your income and savings sources. With the correct planning and structuring, you can legitimately create a tax-favourable position and in some cases, single-digit rates of tax, which means that Portugal can still be more favourable than most individual’s home countries.

Is Portugal a tax haven in Europe

Optimise your move
Planning at least a year before your move is best to put yourself in the most favourable position. This will
allow you to take advantage of any tax opportunities in your home country and arrive in Portugal with the right structures, assets or income sources.

Caveats
The benefits of NHR do not automatically apply to all situations; planning is required to maximise tax-saving opportunities.

There are subtle nuances to the NHR scheme and international tax rules, meaning that in some cases it may not be beneficial to apply for NHR. It depends on how your income is generated and the interaction with your originating country and in some cases, we have seen this create an additional tax liability.

Another common complexity can be the interaction between taxation in Portugal and the former country. For example, what some people believe will be tax-free income may be taxable because of a nuance in the law e.g. income sources must have the ‘potential’ to be taxed in the originating country to qualify under NHR.

CLARITY WITH ADVICE

Paying zero or very low rates of tax is possible in Portugal as an NHR or standard resident, but it very much depends on each person’s circumstances. Planning (and potentially restructuring) is required.

As Chartered Financial Planners and Tax Advisers, we are in the best position to provide cross-border advice to expatriates and assist in creating compliant tax-efficient solutions.

For a complimentary initial consultation please contact Mark Quinn & Debrah Broadfield at +351 289 355 316 or mark.quinn@spectrum-ifa.com.
Alternatively, visit our financial guides page for tax updates and important information about living in and moving to Portugal.

Article by Mark Quinn

If you are based in Portugal or are thinking of moving to Portugal, you can contact Mark at: mark.quinn@spectrum-ifa.com for more information. If you are based in another area within Europe, please complete the form below and we will put a local adviser in touch with you.

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