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Taxes and property in Portugal

By Mark Quinn
This article is published on: 15th June 2023

Many expats will be surprised to discover that even when selling their main home in Portugal, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) applies.

They may also not realise that when selling secondary or rental properties, tax is likely to be due in both Portugal and the country where the property is located. So, what do you need to know?

Portuguese residents are subject to CGT on their worldwide property gains. On the sale of Portuguese property, the tax treatment is the same for Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) and non- NHRs; 50% of the gain is added to your other income in
that tax year and taxed at scale rates.

For overseas property, there is no tax due in Portugal for NHRs but there is tax due (in the same manner as above) for non-NHRs. CGT is also likely due in the country where the property is located.

Can you mitigate any tax?
Despite the potential for eye-watering tax levels, some reliefs are available if the property you are selling is your home. The two mentioned reliefs can be used in isolation or conjunction.

  1. Main residence relief: You can mitigate all (or a portion of) the CGT by reinvesting the sale proceeds (not just the gain) into another property in the EU or EEA. Any amount not reinvested is taxed
  2. Reinvestment into a qualifying savings structure: This is a relatively recent relief and is particularly advantageous for those wishing to downsize (and therefore will not fully reinvest the sale proceeds), or for those moving back to the UK or elsewhere outside of the EU/EEA. There are strict criteria for qualification and we can advise on this area

NHR tax opportunity
For those with overseas property portfolios, selling these during the 10-year NHR period is much more tax efficient as the gain is exempt from CGT in Portugal. But hat about the tax due in the country the property is located? Let’s look at UK property as an example.

The UK only applies CGT to gains accumulated since 6th April 2015 and you will also have your annual UK CGT allowance to deduct (additional reliefs may also apply depending on your situation). If you bought an investment property in joint names in 1992 for £100,000 and it was sold today at £1m, ordinarily tax would be due on the £900k gain. But selling this as a non-UK resident, and assuming linear growth, you only pay tax on the gain since April 2015 i.e. £210,000.

You can effectively ‘wash out’ a large part of the gain simply by selling as a Portuguese tax resident and generating cash to fund your lifestyle.

Article by Mark Quinn

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