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Where am I resident and where should I be paying tax?

By Mark Quinn - Topics: non-habitual residency in Portugal, non-habitual resident, Portugal, Tax, tax advice, Tax in Portugal
This article is published on: 12th April 2022

There is a lot of confusion around the difference between residency, tax residency, Non-Habitual Residency and domicile so this week I will try and cut through this complexity.

Legal residence
Legal residence is the right to reside in a country. So, if you are an EU citizen, you have the automatic right to reside in any other EU country without the necessity for a visa. If you are coming from outside the EU, you must apply for a visa to establish your residency rights.

Legal residence is important as it determines how long you are allowed to spend in a country and your right to benefits such as healthcare and social security. Legal residence however does not impact or determine your tax status.

Tax residency
Generally, tax residency is determined by your physical presence in a country and Portugal, along with many other countries, uses the 183-day rule for determining tax residency.

Understanding your tax residency is important because it determines which country has the taxing right over you and can avoid double-taxation issues when you have links to more than one jurisdiction.

It is possible to have legal residence in Portugal, but not actually be a tax resident e.g. if you have the right to stay in Portugal but you do not spend enough time in Portugal in a given year to be considered tax resident.

Non-Habitual Residence (NHR)
NHR gives successful applicants a special tax status in Portugal for 10 years, but its name is somewhat misleading, as you must be a resident to apply for it.

‘Non-habitual’ actually refers to the requirement that you must not have been resident in Portugal in the 5 years prior to application, so it is aimed at attracting new people to Portugal.

Where do i pay tax

Domicile
Domicile is something that is often confused with residence. It is a very complex area, but the very loose definition of domicile is ‘where you are considered to originate from’. It is a common-law concept and is most likely to be a consideration for British nationals, individuals married to British nationals, or those who are not British but either hold assets in the UK or spend a considerable amount of time in the UK.

Your domicile does not affect your income tax position in Portugal but it can have tax implications, most notably UK Inheritance Tax. (We will elaborate on domicile in next week’s article).

Myths

  • Many people are under the misconception that, as long as they are paying tax somewhere, they are meeting their obligations but it does not work that way. It is crucial you have a clear understanding of where you are resident to avoid being taxed in more than one jurisdiction
  • Registering yourself in Portugal does not automatically make you a tax resident. It is determined by your physical presence, so it is important to check your tax residency every tax year, as it could change
  • Your nationality or citizenship does not change by coming to live in Portugal and becoming resident, although you do have the option of applying for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years

Planning

  • Have a clear understanding of the tax residency rules of the country you are leaving. e.g. you can be tax resident in the UK by spending as little as 16 days there, or if leaving Spain a presumption of residence can remain if your family or your economic interests remain there
  • Prior to departing your current country of residence, utilise any remaining annual allowances and pension contributions, consider reorganising your affairs via inter-spouse transfers, and unwind any structures free of tax that may otherwise be taxed on arrival in Portugal
  • It may also be possible to create periods where you are not considered tax resident in any country or establish residency in another country prior to moving to Portugal for tax planning purposes

Mark Quinn is a Chartered Financial Planner with the Chartered Insurance Institute and Tax Adviser, qualifying with the Association of Tax Technicians.

Article by Mark Quinn

If you are based in Portugal or are thinking of moving to Portugal, you can contact Mark at: mark.quinn@spectrum-ifa.com for more information. If you are based in another area within Europe, please complete the form below and we will put a local adviser in touch with you.

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