Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax Code & Golden Visa Regime
It is not an exaggeration to say that Portugal’s NHR and Golden Visa regimes offer two of the most beneficial tax and residence arrangements available in the world.
The NHR Tax Code
- The NHR tax code is designed to attract foreign individuals to Portugal to entice investment and increase employment opportunities in Portugal
- NHRs are Tax Residents of Portugal but they can benefit from preferential tax rates and in many cases, receive income and interest, which is totally exempt from Personal Income Tax (PIT)
- Any person who has not been resident in Portugal in the past 5 years and who subsequently becomes resident of Portugal may be entitled to apply for this status
- The NHR is valid for 10 years – and may well be extended in the future
- Individuals who qualify must apply by 31st March in the year following registering as a resident of Portugal
Tax Treatment of *Foreign Source Income (generated outside Portugal)
|Category||Taxation in Portugal|
|Real Estate Rentals||Tax Exempt|
|Capital Gains||Tax Exempt|
|Self employment||Exempt-as long as obtained from abroad|
* Sources of income from any of the 81 “Black Listed” territories will not qualify under the NHR tax code
Portugal Source Income
Any income generated in Portugal will be taxed at a flat rate of 20% instead of at the normal progressive rates: up to 48%
Certain professions, such as architects, engineers, doctors, university professors, auditors and tax consultants and other esoteric occupations may also obtain a favoured tax status.
In essence then, anyone who qualifies for residence in Portugal and who can meet the NHR criteria can obtain the these tax privileges .
Importantly, as well as taking tax advice in Portugal, candidates for the NHR tax Code should ensure that they have informed their home country’s tax authorities that they are leaving to avoid any risk of double taxation.Please note, however, that other countries may challenge such residency status by arguing that in accordance with their domestic rules the relevant person should be considered resident in such jurisdiction. If that becomes the case, i.e. if there is a conflict of residency where two countries consider the same individual resident in both their respective jurisdictions, the tie-break clause established under the tax treaties will apply.
In the case of the United Kingdom, the new Statutory Residence Test (SRT) “maze” can exclude a claim of non UK residence, or inhibit the number of days one can visit the UK in the first three years of non-UK Residence unless certain steps are taken.
How can we help?
- We can advise and assist in obtaining NHR with suitably qualified Portuguese associates and assist in obtaining applying for the NHR tax code treatment
- We can refer clients to our UK tax advisors who will ensuring that the correct procedures are adopted so that the SRT non-resident status is met. This will ensure, with the agreement of HMRC, no UK tax returns being necessary in the future
- Likewise, our qualified Portuguese associates, will provide the necessary forms under the Portugal Double Tax Agreements to ensure any UK non- Government pension income is paid gross
Who Can Apply for the Golden Visa
Third State citizens involved in an investment activity, either individually or through a company conducting, at least, one of the following operations in national territory for a minimum period of five years:
I) Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 1 million Euros;
II) Creation of, at least, 30 job positions;
III) Acquisition of real estate with a value equal to or above 500 thousand Euros.
It covers shareholders of companies already set up in Portugal, or in another EU State, with a stable residence in Portugal and with tax obligations fulfilled.
- The investment function established for the Golden Visa has to made and maintained for a minimum of 5 years from the date of which the Golden Visa is established
- The Golden Visa is initially valued for 1 year, renewable for each 2 year period required
- Holders of the golden visa may need to evidence that they have stayed on Portuguese territory for at least 7 days in the first year and 14 days in the subsequent 2 year renewal periods
- After the 6th year, the Visa holder is eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship, if they so desire
How can we help?
In conjunction with our Portugal Legal associates we can guide applicants through all aspects the process of obtaining the Golden Visa permit.
Some alternative BREXIT thoughts and why Italy could be next
The last couple of weeks entertainment have taught me that there are decades when nothing happens in the world and weeks where decades happen. I have bounced from anger to frustration and back again. and am still trying to understand the logic for the BREXIT vote. I am slowly getting to that place and thought I might share some alternative, and thought provoking views in this E-zine.
I also want to write about why Italy could be next in line. (Any ideas on what to call it, Exaly, ItIt?)
One thing appears to be much clearer to me now and that is that the vote on June 23rd was basically the ordinary people of the UK telling the ‘establishment’ that they have had enough of austerity and want change.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise after 8 years of government and central banks supporting bailed out banks (TARP, LTRO, LTRO2, QE, ZIRP, NIRP to name a few of the easing programmes that have been employed!) allowing huge corporate bonuses to continue, destroying income from savings with low interest rate policies and more austerity/taxes for you and I. Conversely the uber rich and corporates have seen asset price rises, an increase in offshoring and consistent tax breaks. Warren Buffet is quoted as saying that he would be happy to pay higher taxes and cannot understand why he pays a lesser percentage of personal tax than a nurse. It seems that since the financial crisis of 2008 there has been one objective: to save the financial industry at all costs.
With all this in mind is it any wonder that the average working man in Northern England is ‘not’ concerned about the consequences of BREXIT; a possible fall in house prices, a loss of jobs in the City, a 10% fall in share prices. These people are immune to this kind of pain. For this person BREXIT probably seems like a bonus. An opportunity to put a finger up to the establishment and David Cameron who have not protected their interests as they should have.
The working class man from Northern England may be immune to the pain of people who have assets, but financial markets are not, and they have reacted as you would expect. (Admittedly they have rebounded in the last few days). This affects the middle class, who also have assets. Expect more volatility to come.
This could all signify an end to economic policy being controlled by academics and economists.
BREXIT: In two minds
Continue with the status quo; economic tranquility and pushing the economic pain further down the road, in reality to the next generation or, should I be a supporter of BREXIT’s ‘economic’ possibilities and what it could ultimately deliver: higher interest rates, debt defaults, inflation, possible asset price falls (no one really knows what will happen here), higher taxes in the short term, vast privatisation of public assets and reduced benefits, with the aim of normalising world economic affairs through short term pain, long term gain. My problem with BREXIT is that I don’t think that the average man in Northern England who voted out actually understands that this is what it actually signifies and if they did then would they really have voted out?
In the end that decision will be made by the people, but let’s not think it is only isolated to the UK. Donald Trump is making similar inroads into the old industrial heartlands of America. Don’t be surprised to see him as President of the USA later in the year. Marine Le Pen in France and Movimento 5 Stelle in Italy (although they have now come out in support of the EU, but with radically changed policies).
Which brings me nicely onto Italy. I have had the BREXIT conversation with many people since then and I have been surprised to hear the reactions from Italians. I can give 5 cases when each person considered their future better outside the EU. A fascist man running a stabilimento (no surprise there then!); a right leaning hairdresser from Naples, devout catholic and openly critical of the influx of immigrants (in my opinion you could call him racist with some of the views on non Italians); a centre right voting physiotherapist with 3 children and self employed; a self confessed communist psychiatrist (with 3 houses and a house in the centre of Rome paid for by her father); and a cartoon animator, living hand to mouth, who is an open supporter of M5S and a vote to exit from the euro and the EU.
All have their own reasons but essentially the same rationale. When the euro was introduced everything doubled in price and wages halved. They seem to think a vote to leave is a way to turn back the clock. That nostalgic feeling…’taking back control’. We have heard that somewhere before!
The reality is likely to be quite different and would reflect the UK’s immediate future if they do exit from EU (I am still not convinced they will). However, the point is that they all feel let down by the EU and would be better off without it.
So, where does this lead us to. A huge inflection point for Italy will come in October. Renzi has proposed a Constitutional change which will essentially liberate the Government from the current two chamber system and allow one party rule for a 5 year period, in much the same way as the UK and the USA.
If this Referendum should fail to be approved by the people then Renzi has stated that he will step down as Prime Minister.
The problem for Italy is that:
- It will likely return to less than 1% economic growth, and for a country that has hardly grown since the introduction of the Euro in 1999, that would not be good
- Italian banks do not have enough capital to weather a storm of that nature. They are sat on €360 billion of non performing loans (a third of the size of the Italian economy). If Italy voted out of the EU, Banca Italia would have to print that money to re-liquidate the Italians banks and that would lead to some pretty spectacular inflation
- And lastly, Renzi leaving his post would would leave a big void and allow parties with an anti European sentiment to fill the space
This is going to be a trying time for Italy, the EU and the UK. I would suggest that this IS the EU’s ‘moment’. If it can survive this then it will pull through, if not then it will fall apart.
So in all this mess and future potential mess what should we be doing with our money. GOLD and the US Dollar. These are things that will weather the storm. How and in what to invest to get best access to these assets is a subject for another time.
Where there’s a Will
Many people avoid drawing up wills because it requires them to contemplate their own mortality. If you are a foreigner with property and/or other assets in Spain, you should make a Spanish will.
You should also have a will for each jurisdiction within which you hold assets. For example, if you have a bank account in Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey etc, you also need a will in that country.
Each of these wills needs to clearly state that they are for the disposal of assets in that country only and that you want your will to be governed by UK/ other EU country law. Only if you state this, will that disposal of assets be governed by your own national law and not that of Spain.
It is now possible to have your Spanish will made out in two columns. One side in Spanish and the other in English. This is checked by a Notary Public and signed by you, the Notary and your interpreter, if your Spanish is insufficient for you to read the Spanish side of the document yourself. The Testamento Abierto (Open Will) is kept by the Notary, an authorized copy will be given to you and the Notary will send a notification to the Registro Central de Ultima Voluntad in Madrid.
It is important to discuss with your legal or financial adviser in Spain, details of the heirs named on your Spanish will. The more direct descendants that are named in your Spanish will as heirs, the less the Inheritance Tax you should have to pay.
Unlike the UK and many other countries, in Spain it is the person receiving the inheritance that is taxable, NOT the deceased person’s estate.
There are many differences between the UK law and Spanish law on Inheritance and Gift tax and although the UK and Spain have many reciprocal arrangements for double taxation, there is no such arrangement for Inheritance Tax.
To die intestate (without a will) in Spain, makes the process of sorting out the deceased’s estate much more time consuming and costly. For the sake of a small amount of money and an hour of your time, you can leave your affairs in order, to help those left behind.
Are your investments tax compliant in Spain?
Many UK nationals resident in Spain will have premium bonds, ISAs, unit trusts, and other vehicles which, although tax efficient in the UK, are not in Spain and are therefore non-compliant for tax purposes. Tax on the growth on these investments may need to be paid in Spain each year, whether withdrawn or not. The advantage of a Spanish Compliant investment, “wrapped” within an insurance policy, is that tax is only payable on gains when these are withdrawn. The gains are charged at SAVINGS TAX rates and NOT INCOME TAX rates. Tax savings can be significant when investments are organised in line with Spanish regulations.
Tax increase on pension funds
The lifetime allowance on pensions will reduce from 6th April 2016. For those who have pension funds over £1 million, 55% tax will be payable on the excess taken as a lump sum. A 25% charge will apply to income although, for a higher rate taxpayer, this extra tax could mean an overall rate of 55% as well. For every £10,000 of income, £5,500 would go in tax. There are people who have not reached this level of pension fund. However, let´s say that there is currently £800,000 in pension savings. With 5% increases each year, in 5 years´ time the funds will be worth over £1 million. There are ways to protect against this charge, up to certain limits and with restrictions. This is one of the reasons why a QROPS arrangement could be suitable for those living overseas as these additional tax charges do not apply to QROPS.
Additional Spanish Succession Tax for non-EU membership
With effect from 1st January 2015, any non-resident who inherits a Spanish asset, and is an ascendant (parent or grandparent), descendent (child or grandchild), or a spouse of the deceased, will be treated in the same way as a Spanish resident, receiving the same allowances and benefits. The tax will then be dependent on the autonomous region in Spain where the deceased was resident or where the asset is situated. This treatment only applies to EU citizens. The EU referendum on 23rd June in the UK could have a serious impact on what future taxes could be due for residents of the UK who inherit Spanish assets.
Planning for the yachting season ahead
You spend much of your professional lives working hard for other people; this season I want to challenge you to do one thing for you and your future every month.
MARCH (i.e. now):
Consolidate your bank accounts – you don’t need them all.Have an account in the currency in which you are paid and another in any other currency you regularly use. You don’t, need lots of accounts, but make sure your total balance is below the compensation limits for the jurisdiction in which you hold the account .
Don’t spend money just moving it around, open a currency broker account. If you need to move money from one currency to another, don’t use your bank, your currency broker can save you a small fortune on exchange rates and fees.
Invest in yourself! What are you going to do at the end of the season? Consider now what your next set of exams will be and when you can do them. Put money aside for fees and living costs. Check your visas and passports if you are crossing to the U.S. later in the year. And start a diary (see November…).
This is the really busy time; stop and consider your longer term future. How long do you want to stay in yachting? What do you want to do after yachting?What do you want to get from yachting (personally and financially)?
The season is calming down – are you really covered? Time to check exactly what health insurance you have on board and if there is any accidental injury or even death in service protection for you and your beneficiaries while you work. When you know, tell someone at home so they can claim on your behalf if necessary.
Cash is no longer king. At the end of your season you may have a pot of cash that you can’t get into your bank (due to strict money laundering rules). Negotiate to have tips paid directly with your salary into your bank account, keeping only the petty cash required. Many Captains will do this.
Tax residency is a matter of fact. Get organised and keep a diary of your travels. Yacht crew are “approached” by various tax authorities that believe you might be a resident. It’s not down to them to prove that you are a resident in their country, it’s down to you to prove you’re not. Understand the residency laws of the countries where you are most likely to become a resident, then keep a diary and flight ticket stubs, to support your case.
If you’ll be in the yachting industry for more than two or three years, seriously consider saving for your future, Your friends on land are paying tax and social security, which will give them something at retirement – are you? It’s up to all crew to put something aside (I suggest at least 25 percent of salary) while they’re in the industry to try and secure their financial wellbeing. The million dollar rule – to retire on an income of $/€3,OOO per month in 15 years, you will need approximately $/€1.1million in assets.
I admit it! I have been confused for years about the rendita catastale. I have never been sure about its role in the economy and how it benefited the individual or economy. Until now! (Care of Bloomberg online)
So, the story goes something like this:
The rendita catastale represents the amount of ‘theoretical rent’ that a householder pays him/herself as a measure of economic consumption.
In other words:
If a householder owns their house outright, i.e no mortgage or other debt, then that person is actually a ‘imputed’ consumer and investor of the ‘invisible’ rent money that they would have received should they be renting a similar house. This money is then assumed to be spent and go back into the economy.
And this is considered a growing financial benefit that property owners enjoy from not having to pay rent.
So, whilst the financial crisis shrank the economy more than 8 percent and unemployment doubled in the seven years of the crisis, property, proportionately, made up more of the gross domestic product. The weighting of property in Italian GDP jumped 2.1% from 2007 despite falls in property prices and transactions. (which gives you an idea of how big the falls were in other parts of the economy).
And given that the financial benefit from housing, i.e the rendita catastale, is taking up a larger proportion of a property owners income, then it comes as no surprise that Renzi has recently promised to abolish IMU on the prima casa from 2016. This also seems to imply that Renzi realises that Italians homeowner spending habits are more important than foreign buyers as a means to sustain property prices.
The Italian economy strongly relies on home ownership. Just by residing either in debt free housing or paying no rent (living in family houses) or a paying a below-market rent, Italians contribute to more than 8 percent of the nation’s GDP, up from about 7 percent in 2007. In a country where more than 73 percent of the population live in owned residences, this is a valuable contribution to economic growth.
The views expressed here are my own. They are not necessarily shared by The Spectrum IFA group or any other company named or implied. They are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions. This is not an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security and should not be construed as such. References to specific securities or companies are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities.
The UK’s future membership of the EU
As the media hype heats up over the question of the UK’s future membership of the EU, clients are already asking what will happen if the outcome of the referendum is to leave the EU?
The simple answer is that we do not really know because a country has never left the EU. What we do know is, as British expatriates ourselves, we will be affected in the same way as our clients.
The more complicated answer is that it will depend upon whether it is a ‘soft exit’ or a ‘hard exit’.
A soft exit would be, for example, remaining as an EEA State (in the same way as Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein). As such, the UK would still have access to the single European market and full freedom of trade within the EU. However, in addition, the UK would be free to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with countries outside of the EU, something that is not possible with full EU membership. The UK would still have to adhere to EU product and financial regulations, as well as social and employment rules. EU budget contributions would still be required, although at a reduced level. Ability to restrict inward EU migration would not be allowed.
A ‘hard exit’ would take the UK outside of the EEA, resulting in it having no automatic access to trade within the EU, but it could continue to negotiate trade agreements with non-EU countries. There would be no more EU budget contributions and also no requirement to adhere to EU Regulations. Inward EU migration could be restricted.
With a ‘hard exit’, as British expatriates living in France, we would need to apply for a Carte de Séjour, but if already resident in France for 10 years, may be granted a Carte de Résidence. Certificates S1 would become a thing of the past and so British expatriates would have to pay cotisations for French health cover. Equally, EU nationals living in the UK, would no longer have an automatic right to live and work there.
The referendum is to take place by the end of 2017, but it is more likely now that it will be in 2016. What we can be certain about is that in the period leading up to the referendum, there will be uncertainty – in capital markets (particularly in the UK) and in currency markets (Sterling is likely to be under pressure).
As if the referendum was not enough to think about, we also have to continue playing the guessing game with central bank policy! It was widely expected that the Fed would start to increase US interest rates in September, but that was not to be. Whilst an increase is not entirely ruled out before the end of this year, no-one can be certain. It is unlikely that the UK will move on interest rates before the US.
In times of such uncertainty, it is more important than ever to seek advice on how to protect your wealth. At the Spectrum IFA Group we have a range of solutions to offer clients, depending upon attitude to investment risk and objectives. For example, have a range of capital protected investments and other low volatility multi-assets funds available. Hence, clients’ portfolios can easily be adjusted to protect their wealth, as and when necessary, something that is particularly appropriate during times of volatile markets.
Even when markets are not volatile, the benefits of diversification gained through investing in global multi-asset portfolios cannot be overstated. If this is combined with using investment management firms that have the size and capability to carry out extensive research into global markets, and investment risk is managed effectively, this considerably increases the chances of the clients’ investments performing better than the average over the medium to long-term.
Some people may be afraid to invest in capital markets during times of uncertainty. However, sitting with large amounts of cash in a bank is not risk-free. Apart from institutional risk, there is the real enemy of inflation, which can erode the real purchasing power of your capital, particularly since interest rates continue at ‘all-time lows’. Holding cash in the bank should really only be for short-term needs which of course includes any short-term capital projects that you might have planned, as well as a cushion for emergencies. Bank deposits are not usually appropriate for medium to long-term investment.
The investment solutions that we recommend to our clients are all carried out within tax-efficient products, which are also highly beneficial for inheritance planning in France. Everyone is different and that is why it is very important that we carry out a full review of a prospective client’s situation to find the right solution for them. It is equally important to ensure that this is kept under review and to not be afraid to make adjustments, when necessary.
The above outline is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group to take any particular action on the subject of investment of financial assets or the mitigation of taxes.
The Spectrum IFA Group advisers do not charge any fees directly to clients for their time or for advice given, as can be seen from our Client Charter at www.spectrum-ifa.com/spectrum-ifa-client-charter
The EU Succession Regulations
What a month it has been since I wrote my last article. The Greek crisis has waxed and waned and as the prospect of increases in UK interest rates comes closer, now the Sterling Euro exchange rate has hit new highs. All of this while the temperatures continue to soar in France and the effects of the canicule are felt!
August is almost upon us and this means that the long-awaited EU Succession Regulations will come into effect. From that point, as French residents, we will be able to opt for the succession rules of our country of nationality to apply (whether or not that country is within the EU). If you do nothing, the default position is that the succession rules of your country of habitual residence will apply. However, regardless of which country’s succession rules are to apply, this will not change the tax situation. French succession taxes will still be due, which can be up to 60%, depending upon your relationship to your beneficiaries.
I am not going to go into the detail of the EU Succession Regulations here, as I have done this before and so I invite you to read my article on this at: www.spectrum-ifa.com/eu-succession-regulations-the-perfect-solution
As the months have passed since writing that article, I have discussed the implications of the Regulations with several legal professionals who operate at an international level and so they are already highly experienced in dealing with cross-border succession situations. Unfortunately, the further clarification on the practical application of the Regulations that we were hoping for has not appeared and so still we can only wait for the results of actual cases.
What is clear though is that if you elect the succession rules of your country of nationality, then your French property and any other assets that you own would be administered by a French notaire trying to apply another country’s law and this is likely to cause complications, delays, additional expenses and delays. So I, like many other professionals, hold the view that if there is a tried and tested ‘French way’ to achieve your objectives, then this should still be used. The ‘French way’ is another subject that I have written about in detail and the full article can be read at: www.spectrum-ifa.com/inheritance-planning-in-france
There will be cases where the EU Succession Regulations will be welcome for some couples. Typically, this might include situations where children are estranged from parents or step-children just will not accept the step-parent, regardless of the length of the relationship. The Regulations will be a relief for couples in such situations, as they will be able to circumvent the French forced succession rules, but they will still need to address the taxation issues that may occur. As concerns financial assets, this is an area where we can help.
Everyone’s situation is different and this is why it is very important
to seek professional advice on this subject.
Are you concerned about the EU Succession Regulations and how this affects you? If you would like to have a confidential discussion about this please contact me from the contact box below.