Golden Visa and Tax Benefits

Golden Visa – Can it be a profitable investment? Tax Benefits related to the rehabilitation of real estate.

In the last few articles I have been mentioning and outlining several reasons why the purchase of a property worth 350 thousand Euros with rehabilitation works will be a good and profitable investment to obtain the Golden Visa.

Associated to a lower investment value, which will be a minimum of 350 thousand Euros for the purchase of a property and rehabilitation works, in comparison to the investment of 500 thousand Euros for any property or group of properties, the option for rehabilitation of urban real estate, especially in the perspective of its profitability through rental housing, there are also other advantages for the investor.

In addition to some support programs and funds available to owners who proceed with the rehabilitation of buildings in areas of urban rehabilitation, in this article we will specifically focus on the aspect of tax benefits associated with urban rehabilitation, which adds even more advantages to the Golden Visa regime through real estate investment.

The Golden Visa regime in the form of investment in a minimum global (acquisition of property and rehabilitation) value of 350 thousand Euros foresees that the same can be made in real estate located in an area of urban rehabilitation, or in real estate whose construction has been concluded at least 30 years ago.  This is also the premise in the case of the tax benefits stipulated in article 45 of the Statute of Tax Benefits (EBF), as the benefits will be attributed when the rehabilitation works are carried out in real estate that is in either of the two aforementioned situations.

However, there are two other conditions, in this case cumulative, which need to be observed:

  1. a) the property rehabilitation interventions must be promoted under the terms of the Urban Rehabilitation Legal Regime;
  2. b) As a result of the intervention referred to in the previous sub-paragraph, the maintenance status of the property needs to be two levels higher than that previously attributed, and must have at least a Good level, comprehending that the energy efficiency and thermal quality requirements applicable to the buildings are fulfilled.

In order to comply with that mentioned in paragraph b), it will be necessary to request a technical evaluation from the Municipality and the fee for such evaluation of the state of conservation will be reduced by 50% in these cases.

If the requirements are fulfilled, in accordance with the EBF, the tax benefits to be granted are as follows:

Exemption from municipal property tax (IMI) for a period of three years from the year, of the conclusion of the rehabilitation works, with the possibility of this exemption to be renewed and extended, at the request of the owner, for a further five years in the case of properties assigned to rental for permanent dwelling purposes or to own as permanent dwelling;

Exemption from municipal tax on onerous transfers of real estate (IMT) in the acquisition of real estate for rehabilitation, provided that the purchaser begins the respective works within a maximum period of three years from the date of acquisition;

Exemption from municipal property transfer tax (IMT) on the first transmission of property, following the rehabilitation intervention, in the case that the property will be used as rental for permanent dwelling purposes or, when located in an area of urban rehabilitation, also for own and permanent dwelling purposes;

In my opinion, these exemptions allied with the Golden Visa regime, in which the investor is obliged to maintain the investment property for a period of five years, may bring enormous advantages by mitigating the most onerous taxes and costs related with the acquisition and holding of a property.

The first advantage will be the IMI exemption that may last for eight years after the acquisition and rehabilitation of the property, if it is used to rent for habitational purposes, or even if it’s used as the permanent habitation of the investor.

The second advantage will be not having to pay IMT if the rehabilitation works are started within the first three years after the acquisition of the property. That is, there is a suspension in the payment of IMT during the first three years, and a total exemption of its payment if it is proven that the owner started the rehabilitation within the maximum period established.

If we take as an example a property acquisition to rehabilitate in the amount of 350 thousand Euros, the investor can be exempted from paying the 8% tax on that amount, corresponding to a value of 16,964.75 Euros.

Finally, the advantage of exempting the future purchaser of the rehabilitated property from the IMT tax, if he uses the property for rental as a permanent residence, or even as his own permanent residence.

This advantage of exempting the future buyer of the payment of IMT is a great advantage at the level of marketing of the property in the future, when the investor under the Golden Visa, has already exceeded the five years in which it is required to maintain ownership of the property, and now decides to capitalize the investment through the sale of the same.

Another interesting tax benefit is the fact that the cost of the contract for the rehabilitation of the property can be taxed in terms of VAT at 6% instead of the usual 22% applicable to construction contracts. With a rehabilitation contract, it will be possible to apply the lower rate of VAT.

Also at the Personal Income Tax (IRS) level there are some interesting benefits when opting for the investment in real estate for rehabilitation, through the Golden Visa, and its profitability through renting.

And although it is not contradictory to the Golden Visa regime, the truth is that in order to benefit from these incentives in terms of IRS, the investor must become a tax resident in Portugal, something that every so often it’s not a common aspiration from the investors.

As we know, many of the investors who opt for the Golden Visa, do not intend to become tax resident in Portugal, however for other investors who effectively choose to move to Portugal cutting ties with their country of origin, the change of tax residence to Portugal is not an impediment at all.

For those investors who choose to become tax resident in Portugal, Article 71 of the EBF, grants two tax benefits in terms of IRS:

  1. a) Capital gains earned by IRS taxpayer’s resident in Portuguese territory arising from the first disposal, subsequent to the intervention, of property located in an urban rehabilitation area, are taxed at an autonomous rate of 5%, without prejudice to the option for aggregation;
  2. b) Rental income earned by IRS taxpayer’s resident in Portugal is taxed at 5%, without prejudice to the option for aggregation, when it derives entirely from the rental of real estate located in an ‘urban recovery area’, recovered under the terms of the respective recovery strategies;

Finally, and perhaps of less relevance for those who make an investment under the Golden Visa, also in terms of IRS, if the investor becomes tax resident in Portugal, he will be entitled to deduct 30% of the costs incurred by the owner/investor related to the rehabilitation of the property, up to a limit of 500 euros.

As mentioned above, there are other tax benefits associated with rehabilitation if the investment is made through other vehicles holding the property, and there are also other incentives and support in the form of funds and support for rehabilitation.

Nevertheless, as it was possible to demonstrate, the tax incentives themselves, allow, in the case of investment through rehabilitated real estate, to mitigate one of the disadvantages most often mentioned in real estate investment under the Golden Visa regime, which is related to the tax costs, some fixed as the IMI, throughout the five years in which the investor is obliged to keep the property in his ownership.

Therefore, using the example I have been giving, the profitability of the investment through the rental housing, it is possible to avoid most of the tax costs in the procedure of purchase and maintenance of the property.

auctor Pedro Marrana

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