Tag Archives: tax

Getting Residency Right

When it comes to relocating to Madeira Island (or Portugal) confusion arises among expats between residency for taxation purposes and residency for immigration purposes.

Although both concepts are closely related to one another, one does not necessarily implies the other.

Expats looking into effective relocation to Madeira Island must first concern themselves with obtaining residency for immigration purposes. In the case of European Union Citizens, European Economic Area Citizens and Swiss Citizens, these will formalize their residency status by obtaining the Certificate of Registration for EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen (CRUE) from the municipality where they live.

in fact EU/EEA/Swiss citizens living in Madeira (or in any Portuguese territory) for longer than 3 months are required by law to formalize their right of residence. After 3 months this class of citizens has 30 days to register themselves with the municipality.

On the other had, third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens) can only formalize their right of residency, provided that they have applied for the necessary visa with the Portuguese diplomatic mission in their country of residency or do an investment that might qualify them for residency. Once the visa is obtained, third-country nationals will have a given number of days to enter Portuguese territory and apply for the residency permit matching the Portuguese residency visa issued in their passport.

In the case of residency, for tax purposes, the Portuguese Personal Income Tax Code generally considers a taxpayer to be a tax resident if he/she remains more than 183 days in Portuguese territory. This counting refers to any period of 12 months beginning or ending in the year in question.

Further to the above, one is also resident, for tax purposes, if he/she owns housing that supposes the intention to maintain it and to occupy like habitual residence. In the event of a conflict in the definition of the tax residence, the taxpayer must take into account the criteria for its definition in the Double Taxation Agreement signed between Portugal and the country of residence.

Taking into consideration the above, its theoretically possible for the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority to consider an expat as resident, and therefore liable to worldwide income taxation, even-though he/she might not be duly registered for immigration purposes.

Alternatively, should an expat have the need to update his tax residency status, from non-resident to resident, he/she will need to produce evidence of effectively residing in Portuguese territory, for immigration purposes.

Having that said, those effectively relocating to Madeira, for tax and immigration purposes, will need to follow these steps:

  1. Getting the Visa in the Passport,
  2. Flying to Portugal with the Visa and applying for residency with the Immigration and Border Services, under the visa on your passport,
  3. Receiving residency card with from the Immigration and Border Services;
  4. Updating tax residency status with the tax authorities, based on the residency card received;
  5. Applying for tax benefits.

Steps 1-3 are to be substituted by CRUE (as previously mentioned above).

Last, but not least, we understand that Portuguese bureaucracy (and lack of English language skills in the civil service) is daunting for expats in relocation process. MCS team of lawyers and accountants is ready to assist you and your family in having a smooth relocation. Should you require our assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

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UK Expats in Portugal beware

More often than not UK expats in Portugal (Madeira Island included) are faced with warnings from our tax advisors pertaining the compliance of their income structure towards the Portuguese Personal Income Tax Code in general, and the Non-Habitual Resident scheme in particular.

The above-mentioned warnings are related to the economic links that said expats maintain with the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories (BOTs), from which they derive part of their income. Under Portuguese Personal Incomer Tax law capital income (dividends, interests) and capital-gains from real-estate derived from Crown Dependencies and BOTs, jurisdictions classified in Portugal as tax havens, are taxed at a flat tax rate of 35%.

The classification of Crown Dependencies and BOTs as blacklisted tax havens is unlikely to change, specially given the launch of the European Tax Observatory, a new research laboratory funded by the European Commission with the aim of assisting the EU’s fight against tax abuse. Further to this the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is currently undertaking work to reach a deal on overhauling the international tax system – with the objective of reaching a deal by mid-2021, which may jeopardize the treatment of these territories.

Taking into account the above situation, British expats moving to Madeira Island are advised to seek specialized international tax advisory concerning their personal income structure, its compliance with the existing taxation rules and benefits and conduct re-structuring of their income sources, prior to relocation. This will deter unwanted and avoidable tax exposure.

auctor Miguel Pinto-Correia

Our team of lawyers and accountants is ready to assist you in assuring relocation to Madeira Island that meets your expectations. Feel free to contact us.

 

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Tax residency and its implications

Definition of Tax Residency

Generally, a taxpayer is considered to be a tax resident in Portugal if he remains more than 183 days. This counting refers to any period of 12 months beginning or ending in the year in question.

One is also resident if he/she owns housing that supposes the intention to maintain it and to occupy like habitual residence.

In the event of a conflict in the definition of the tax residence, the taxpayer must take into account the criteria for its definition in the Double Taxation Agreement signed between Portugal and the country of residence.

Tax residency is important for the purposes of obtaining the Non-Habitual Status (NHR), as one must first be resident in order to apply for NHR status and one has until 31st March of the year following that of registration as resident to obtain said status.

Reporting Obligations

Consequently, for a taxpayer who is a tax resident in Portugal, the Personal Income Tax, IRS, will be levied on his or her worldwide income. The IRS tax rate can go up to 48%.

On the other hand if a taxpayer is not a tax resident in Portugal, the IRS tax is levied only on income obtained in Portugal, provided that they are not subject a withholding tax.

As such, a resident taxpayer in Portugal is required to file the IRS Form 3 reporting his/her worldwide.

A non-resident taxpayer will only have to file a declaration in the case of obtaining rental income Portuguese source.

Tax Residency and CRS

The Portuguese Tax Code requires all taxpayers who work and/or reside abroad to communicate the change of their tax address to the Tax and Customs Authority (“AT”) within 60 days.

However, a large part of expat communities abroad fail to do so. This leads them to incorrectly report their income earned in both countries.
 
This issue has become more “serious” if we take into account that banks now collect and report information on bank account balances held by non-resident (for tax purposes) clients to the tax authorities.

The opposite also happens: foreign banks will report the accounts held by taxpayers resident in their national territory to their respective tax authorities, who will then communicate this information to the tax authorities of the country of origin.
 
This exchange of information stems from the implementation of the Common Reporting Standards (“CRS”), created by the OECD and of which Portugal and 92 other countries are involved.

Among the 93 jurisdictions, offshores like the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Channel Islands are also included.

These commons reporting standards aim to combat tax evasion and money laundering and can have an impact on the tax residency status of thousands of expats.

CRSs can then risk expats’ income to be taxed in their country of origin and in their country of residence, if tax residence status are not up to date in all jurisdictions.

It is therefore extremely important that expats update their tax residence status with the competent tax authorities.

Our team at MCS, with more than 20 years of experience in the sector, is able to assist you pertaining taxation matters in Madeira and in Portgual. For more information our services click here.

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Tax Representative and Taxpayer Number

Those relocating to Portugal will soon discover that having a Portuguese Taxpayer Number (locally known as NIF – Número de Identificação Fiscal) is required for conducting business and engaging with governmental authorities for the purposes of almost anything.

To give a rough idea you are required to hold a Portuguese taxpayer identification number for the purpose of engaging the judicial system; opening a bank account; buying, renting or selling real estate property; buying or selling a car; incorporate a company; enrolling your kids in school (yes, your kids do need to have a NIF too); applying for membership with a professional guild; applying for residency; registering a trademark or patent; receive inheritance; celebrate any type of contract, etc…

Notwithstanding the above it is important to take into account that taxpayer number numbers are associated with one the following tax residency status:

  • Non-Resident
  • Resident: generally speaking those who have lived for more than 183 days (consecutive or not) in Portugal in any period of 12 months starting or ending in the relevant year; or having a house, at any time throughout the 12-month period, in such conditions that allow to presume the intention to hold and occupy it as the habitual place of residence.

Those qualifying as non-resident, or being registered as such, are required under to law to appoint a a tax representative, who can be a and individual or an entity with tax residency in Portugal. The only exception to this rule is those taxpayers residing in another European Union Member-State.

The consequences of the lack of a tax representative are close to those concerning the lack of NIF. In other words, anyone who is non-resident taxpayer abroad and does not have a appoint tax representative in Portugal cannot exercise the rights of complaint, appeal or challenge. Furthermore, “the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority may rectify the tax residency of non-residency on its own initiative based on the information at their disposal”, with all the tax and reporting obligations that such action may incur.

Given the above the appoint a tax representative is of the utmost importance for those qualifying as non-residents outside the European Union and should establish tax representation through contract with an experienced representative. We at MCS have been providing such service for more than 20 years to international investors and expats alike.

Do not hesitate to contact our team should you have any questions.

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Do I need to file taxes in Madeira?

Do I need to file taxes in Madeira? This is the main question that expats relocating to Madeira ask to us as tax consultants. This is the most simple answer we can give: if you are resident, for tax purposes, yes (this includes non-habitual tax residents status holders).

Tax Residency

Tax residency, in the case of expats, is obtained either by having lived for more than 183 days (consecutive or not) in Madeira/Portugal any period of 12 months starting or ending in the relevant year; or having a house, at any time throughout the 12-month period, in such conditions that allow to presume the intention to hold and occupy it as the habitual place of residence.

Taking into consideration the above, residents, for tax purposes, are obliged to file personal income tax in Madeira/Portugal reporting their worldwide income earned, IBAN (or equivalent) number of foreign bank accounts held and corresponding taxes paid (in Portugal and/or abroad).

Fines

According to Article 116 of the General Taxation Infringements System, failure to file a tax return within the legal deadline is punishable by a fine of 150 to 3,750 euros.

If one decides to hand over the tax return on your own initiative, within 30 days of the end of the reporting obligation, one may be left with the minimum fine, which is 25 euros (12.5% of the minimum legal amount). This only applies if the Portuguese Government has not been penalized in its initial declaration (i.e. if it has not received amounts to which it was not entitled).

But if one hands in tax return more than 30 days after the deadline one will have to pay a minimum fine of 37.50 euros (25% of the legal minimum), which can go up to 112.50 euros if, by the time you regularise the situation, the Tax Authority has already initiated an audit.

This reduced fine must be paid within 15 days of notification. If this payment is not made within the time limit, administrative offence proceedings will be initiated and the minimum fine applicable will be EUR 150 to which the costs of the proceedings will be added.

If the failure to make a declaration is delayed, the fine may be as high as EUR 3 750. Also in this context of delay, if the tax authority finds inaccuracies or omissions in its tax return, the fine ranges from EUR 375 to EUR 22 500.

Exchange of Information

Tax authorities in the EU have therefore agreed to cooperate more closely so as to be able to apply their taxes correctly to their taxpayers and combat tax fraud and tax evasion.
Administrative cooperation in direct taxation between the Competent Authorities of the EU Member States helps to ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share of the tax burden, irrespective of where they work, retire, hold a bank account and invest or do business. This is based upon Council Directive 2011/16/EU which establishes all the necessary procedures, and provides the structure for a secure platform for the cooperation.​

Scope: the scope of the Directive encompasses all taxes of any kind with the exception of VAT, customs duties, excise duties and compulsory social contributions because these are already covered by other Union legislation on administrative cooperation. Also recovery of tax debts is regulated via its own legislation.

The scope of persons covered by particular exchanges of information depends on the subject matter. The Directive covers natural persons (i.e. individuals), legal persons (i.e. companies), and any other legal arrangements like trusts and foundations that are resident in one or more of the EU Member States.

Exchange of Information: the Directive provides for the exchange of specified information in three forms: spontaneous, automatic and on request.

  • Spontaneous exchange of information takes place if a country discovers information on possible tax evasion relevant to another country, which is either the country of the income source or the country of residence.
  • Exchange of information on request is used when additional information for tax purposes is needed from another country.
  • Automatic exchange of information is activated in a cross-border situation, where a taxpayer is active in another country than the country of residence. In such cases tax administrations provide automatically tax information to the residence country of the taxpayer, in electronic form on a periodic basis. The Directive provides for mandatory exchange of five categories of income and assets: employment income, pension income, directors fees, income and ownership of immovable property and life insurance products. The scope has later been extended to financial account information, cross-border tax rulings and advance pricing arrangements, country by country reporting and tax planning schemes. These amendments which extend the application of the original Directive are loosely based on the common global standards agreed by tax administrations at international level, notably at the OECD. However, they sometimes go further and importantly they are legislative rather than being based on political agreement without legislative force. The Directive provides for a practical framework to exchange information –  i.e. standard forms for exchanging information on request and spontaneously, as well as computerised formats for the automatic exchange of information – secured electronic channels for the exchange of information and a central directory for storing and sharing information on cross-border tax rulings, advance pricing arrangements and reportable cross-border arrangements (“- tax planning schemes”). Member States are also required to provide a feedback to each other on the use of information received, and to examine together with the Commission how well the Directive supports the administrative cooperation.
  • Other Forms of Administrative Cooperation: The Directive provides for other means of administrative cooperation such as the presence of officials of a Member State in the offices of the tax authorities of another Member State or during administrative enquiries carried out therein. It also covers simultaneous controls allowing two or more Member States to conduct simultaneous controls of person(s) of common or complementary interest, requests for notifying tax instruments and decisions issued by the authority of another Member State.
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Andorra

Andorra removed from blacklist

Following the amendment to Ministerial Order No. 150/2004 of 13 February 2004, by Ministerial Order no. 309-A/2020, of 31 December, the Principality of Andorra has been removed from the Portuguese list of countries, territories and regions with clearly more favourable tax regimes (i.e. tax havens).

Given the above, the jurisdictions currently blacklisted by Portugal are the following: American Samoa, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Anguilla, Marshall Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Mauritius, Aruba, Monaco, Ascension Island, Monserrat, Bahamas, Nauru, Bahrain, Netherlands Antilles, Barbados, Northern Mariana Islands, Belize, Niue Island, Bermuda, Norfolk Island, Bolivia, Other Pacific Islands, British Virgin Islands, Palau, Brunei, Panama, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn Island, Channel Islands, Porto Rico, Christmas Island, Qatar, Cocos (Keeling), Queshm Island, Iran, Cook Islands, Saint Helena, Costa Rica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Djibouti, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Falkland Islands, Samoa, Fiji, San Marino, French Polynesia, Seychelles, Gambia, Solomon Islands, Gibraltar, St Vicente and the Grenadines, Grenada, Sultanate of Oman, Guam, Svalbard, Guyana, Eswatini, Honduras, Tokelau, SAR Hong Kong (China) Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Tristan da Cunha, Jordan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Virgin Islands of the United States, Labuan, Vanuatu, Lebanon, Yemen and Liberia.

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Year End Tax Updates

Madeira’s General Corporate Tax

Madeira’s Regional Budget for 2021 has been approved by the Representative of the Republic to the Autonomous Region of Madeira. Under the new budget, the general corporate income tax rate (CIT) is 14,7%. This means that Madeira has a more attractive CIT than major European economic power houses such as: Austria (25%), Germany (aprox. 25%), France (30%), Italy (27,9%), Luxembourg (25%), Netherlands (25%), etc…

This new 14,7% CIT, combined with Madeira’s internet infrastructure, full EU law compliance and friendly expat environment, makes the island the perfect location to conduct international business in Portugal and Europe. Furthermore, special incentives such a the Madeira International Business Center (a reduced 5% CIT) and a 10-year tax holiday for expats looking into to relocate to the island, can be also available, provided that several conditions are met by the investors.

Madeira International Business Center (MIBC)

The Assembly of the Republic has received, and is set to discuss, a bill from the Government of the Republic which will extend the deadline for the application of new company licenses until December 31st, 2021.

MCS and its multi-disciplinary team, with more than 20 years of expertise, is read to assist you in incorporating your business on the island. Feel free to contact us.

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Official List of Tax Haven Jurisdictions

The European Union has it own list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, also know as tax havens. This list is a non-binding one, therefore acting as “bullying” diplomatic document against small island economies.

Given the above, Portugal has its list of what it considers to be non-cooperative jurisdictions, for tax purposes. Generally speaking, income made available by these jurisdictions to Portuguese resident taxpayers are subject to a flat tax rate of 35%.

List of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions, as determined by the Portuguese Ministry of Finance

American Samoa, Liechtenstein, Andorra , Maldives, Anguilla, Marshall Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Mauritius, Aruba, Monaco, Ascension Island, Monserrat, Bahamas, Nauru, Bahrain, Netherlands Antilles, Barbados, Northern Mariana Islands, Belize, Niue Island, Bermuda, Norfolk Island, Bolivia, Other Pacific Islands, British Virgin Islands, Palau, Brunei, Panama, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn Island, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, Puerto Rico, Christmas Island, Qatar, Cocos (Keeling), Queshm Island, Iran, Cook Islands, Saint Helena, Costa Rica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Djibouti, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Falkland Islands, Samoa, Fiji, San Marino, French Polynesia, Seychelles, Gambia, Solomon Islands, Gibraltar, St Vicente and the Grenadines, Grenada, Sultanate of Oman, Guam, Svalbard, Guyana, Eswatini, Honduras, Tokelau, SAR Hong Kong (China) Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Tristan da Cunha, Jordan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Virgin Islands of the United States, Labuan, Vanuatu, Lebanon, Yemen, Liberia.

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A Global Hub for Business: Madeira

At a time that it is increasingly important for companies to have internationalization tools at their disposal, the Autonomous Region of Madeira enables companies to significantly reduce their internationalization costs.

Given the above, the set of tax benefits available within the Madeira International Business Center (MIBC) make it possible for international companies to reduce their internationalization/context costs.

Thus, companies wishing to internationalize and that have their core business in international trade activities, e-business and telecommunications, consultancy and marketing services, as well as the management of intellectual property, the development of real estate projects or management of investments can license themselves in the MIBC / ZFM and get the following benefits:

Available Tax Benefits within the MIBC

  • 5% Corporate Tax Rate, provided some legal requirements are met;
  • Access to the Portuguese system of participation exemption ;
  • No withholding tax on:
    • Payment of dividends, to non-resident entities
    • Payment of services, to non-resident entities;
    • Payment of interest, to non-resident entities;
    • Payment of royalties, to non-resident entities;
  • Exemption from 80% in stamp duty on documents, contracts and other acts carried out requiring public register since performed with non-resident entities in Portugal or licensed in the MIBC;
  • Companies licensed in the MIBC also benefit from 80% of municipal property tax and property transfer tax exemption due to the acquisition of immovable property for the installation, as well as other fees and local taxes;
  • Access to the network of double taxation treaties signed by Portugal.

It is important to note that the MIBC / ZFM is covered by all tax and social security Portuguese laws and is licensed under European Union law. Such legislative provisions allow the MIBC / ZFM to fully comply with national and international standards.

The benefits above mentioned can be combined with the highly attractive Portuguese Golden Residence Permit Programme (also known as Golden Visa) and the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax Regime, which grants a 10 year tax exemption on new residents.

Having said, it is clear that all companies can alleviate the costs associated with the internationalization of its activities in an efficient way by using Madeira as its HQ.

Our team at MCS, with more than 20 years of experience in the sector, is able to assist in the incorporation of your company within the MIBC or Portugal. For more information click here, for information our services click here.

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Madeira’s your Brexit opportunity

Low Taxes

Today more than 10% of Madeira’s International Business Centre (MIBC) are of British origin, operating in one of Europe’s most tax efficient and tax compliant jurisdictions.
Approved the tax benefits were approved by the European Commission and allow the licensing and installation of new companies, which benefit from a reduced corporate tax rate of 5% and exemption from withholding of payment of dividends, among other fiscal benefits.
The change of the VAT regime in the transactions and other tax regulations caused by the Brexit make Madeira one of the best places for companies who want to relocate to the EU.
MIBC currently has 2,000 companies operating in three economic sectors, International Services, the Industrial Free Trade Zone and the International Ship Registry of Madeira (MAR).
When compared with Malta or Cyprus, which also offer reduced corporate tax rate regimes, Madeira’s main advantage is that its regime has been approved by the EU, while other territories will have to harmonize their legislation by 2020.

Expat Paradise

The Portuguese special personal income tax regime, the NHR scheme (Non-Habitual Resident), is specifically designed for individuals wishing to transfer their residency to Portugal and currently presents and excellent opportunity to all the British wishing to relocate before or after Brexit is conclude.
Provided that all requirements are fulfilled the main characteristics of the regime are:
  • Foreign sourced income such as dividends, interest, capital gains (duly structured), rental income, occupational pensions, together with self-employment income and professional income can be exempt from personal income tax;
  •  Portuguese sourced employment and self-employment income are liable to a special flat rate of 20%.
If you have not been a resident, for tax purposes, in the previous five years prior to taking up residence in Portugal you are able to benefit from the potential advantages of the NHR Regime, which can be combined with the Portuguese Golden Visa.
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