Tax Breaks: Expats head for Portugal
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Tax Breaks: Expats head for Portugal

06 Apr 2016
Tax Breaks: Expats head for Portugal
While the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) programme was introduced in Portugal back in 2009, it has only recently seen a strong increase in people moving here from other European states to take advantage of the beneficial tax exemption system.

Figures from the Finance Ministry published this week reveal that while people taking up the beneficial tax treatment in Portugal failed to exceed a hundred a year in the first four years following its introduction, this number exceeded ten a day in 2015 and continues to rise.

Dennis Swing Greene of financial consultancy firm Eurofinesco, on Thursday told The Portugal News that while nationals from countries such as France, Sweden and Finland continue to make use of bilateral tax treaties with Portugal, “interest from the UK and Ireland has seen an increase”, a situation he explains as being due to greater awareness of the scheme.

Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident regime provides beneficial tax treatment for the first ten years of residence.

Furthermore, those approved for the scheme, will see employment income earned in Portugal and derived from a “high value added” activity such as an engineer or medical doctor taxed at just 20 percent, as opposed to 48 percent. 

The regime also provides for tax exemptions for foreign source income, provided certain conditions are met, according to information supplied by Blevins Franks.

The idea behind this exemption was reportedly conceived following pressure from interest groups in Sweden, and after Portugal’s agreement to waive income tax on pensions. The legislation effectively spread to cover all EU member states and any other nations with which Portugal shares tax agreements.

In 2014, Portugal was ranked the second best country in the world for Britons to seek retirement.

Castle Cover, insurance specialists for over-fifties, surveyed a total of 23 countries based on a number of criteria including rainfall, hours of sunshine, temperature, property price, petrol costs, murder rate and healthcare availability and costs, among others, placing Portugal at number two.

But despite Portugal’s favourable positioning for pensioners, Dennis Swing Greene revealed that a number of European countries are also actively looking to do away with this bilateral agreement.

Portugal has already come under fire from the Netherlands, which has described the country as being a tax haven in Europe, while pressure is also being applied by Finland for Portugal to revise its tax exemption rules for non-habitual residents.

In the meantime, and according to newspaper Diário de Notícias, the Portuguese government is looking to streamline the process for EU nationals to adhere to the NHR programme by allowing potential beneficiaries to make their applications via the Finance Ministry’s website, as it seeks to significantly reduce the waiting time for approval.

Date: 10.03.2016

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