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The best of both worlds

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The best of both worlds

by | Monday, 29 June 2020 | Corporate Income Tax, Investment, Personal Income Tax

The best of both worlds

In international taxation one can seldomly have the best of both worlds. However, Portugal is proving otherwise, thanks not only to the Madeira International Business Centre, but also to the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime.

Created in September 23rd, 2009, the NHR regime is a set of personal income tax exemptions and reduced rates aimed at people wishing to transfer their residence to Portugal. Those qualifying for the NHR regime are entitled to the above-mentioned reduced rates for a period of 10 consecutive years.

Among the several tax benefits deriving from the NHR regime, is the tax exemption on foreign sourced income (interests, dividends, capital gains, income from real estate property (rents), royalties, intellectual property income and business income) provided that: these latter types of income can be taxed in the country of origin under a Double Taxation Agreement signed with with Portugal.

Given the above, potential investors with structures in Malta or Switzerland can relocate to Portugal and have peace of mind with respect to dividends/profits distributed by Maltese and Swiss companies (such as a SICAV type company – investment company with variable capital) to their shareholders benefiting from the NHR scheme.

In fact, the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority not only applies full tax exemption on income received from the above entities (as generally foreseen in the Portuguese Personal Income Tax Code), but has also established recently binding information to its taxpayers that dividends paid to NHR shareholders of Maltese companies and SICAVs are exempt from personal income tax in Portugal.

In the light of the Double Taxation Treaty concluded with Malta in Portugal, the tax credit provided to shareholders is assimilated to dividends, taking into account the specificity of the Maltese tax system of imputing income to shareholders.

On the other hand, and although the Portuguese Personal Income Tax Code considers the income paid by a collective investment organization, namely a SICAV, to its participants, is as capital income, in light of the Double Taxation Treaty between Switzerland and Portugal, the same income is considered as dividends.

Further to the above, the same treaty establishes a situation of cumulative tax jurisdiction for this income, with Portugal being able to exercise taxation as the State of residence of the beneficiaries, and Switzerland, as the State of the source. Therefore, under the NHR regime, income deriving from SICAVs will be exempt from taxation in Portugal.

The NHR as a stand-alone option, or together with the corporate tax incentives under the Madeira International Business Center, makes available to international investors. a higher degree of international mobility and liquidity, the latter through a low corporate tax rate of 5% applicable to international services companies.

These features of the Portuguese Tax System make it possible for one to benefit from the best of both worlds.

auctor Miguel Pinto-Correia

MCS and its team have more than 20 years of experience in assisting private clients who want to transfer residence or invest in the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

Obtaining RNH status requires a careful assessment of the income structure of the potential beneficiary.

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