Portugal

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Portugal has successfully modernised and diversified its economy over the last three decades or so. As proof of this, it was ranked a very respectable 25th in the world in the 2015 World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business survey. In the ‘starting a business’ category, Portugal was 10th, which means that it is a very smooth process. Indeed, you can set up a business in Portugal in three days, or even on the same day in some cases! Nevertheless, for best results, make sure to do thorough research and start planning well in advance.

If you want to start your own business in Portugal, the first step is to ensure you have the legal right to live and work in the country. You will generally need to obtain a residence permit before you can operate a business in Portugal. For more information on residence permits and immigrating into Portugal in general, see our Immigration section.

Before starting your business, it is essential to create a business plan that will give you the best possible launch into the Portuguese market. First, make sure you have a clear view of what it is you want to do, and how feasible that business idea is. You will need to research the businesses that already operate in your field in the local area, and determine your potential customers and partners. Additionally, you should think through your best financing options.

Another important step is to decide which legal structure your business will adopt. A legal structure determines the benefits you enjoy and the nature of your legal, financial and tax obligations. The two most common legal structures in Portugal are the quota company and corporation.

Population: 10.32 million
Form of government: Unitary semi-presidential republic
Official & spoken languages: Portuguese
Currency: EURO
Time zone: WET (UTC)
GDP (PPP): $311.321 billion
GDP (PPP)/per capita: $31.576
Average salary: 910€
Unemployment: 12,2%
Major trading partners: Spain, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands and Italy

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE COMPANY FORMATION SERVICES & FEES

Advantages of doing business in Portugal

  • A Portuguese limited liability can be incorporated within one week with one director and one shareholder, who can be of any nationality. The minimum paid-up share capital  required is only 1€ and not needed travel to completed engagement.
  • It is easy and cost-efficient to register a business in portugal:
    • Resident companies benefits from the office space rent costs recorded at 11e per sq. m in Lisbon and 6€ per sq. m in Porto, among the lowest in Western Europe.
    • The World Bank ranks Portugal as the 5th best European country for ease of business incorporation.
    • Portuguese LLC incorporation takes no more than 1 week, the fastest pace in Europe.
  • The Portuguese government offers fiscal incentives to entrepreneurs registering a company in Portugal including:
    •  The government has committed to reduced corporate tax rate to between 19% and 17% in 2016
    • Companies with annual revenue below 50€ million benefit from a reduced corporate tax rate of 17% for profits up to 15.000€
    • Resident companies can carry forward their business losses up to 12 years, allowing them to claim subsequent tax rebates for an amount up to 70% of a year’s taxable income
    • Resident innovative companies benefit from a corporate tax credit on of up to 50% eligible R&D expenses if these expenses are higher than their 36 months average or 32.5% if otherwise. This tax credit may carried forward up to 8 years and represent up to €1.8 million.

Disadvantages of doing business in Portugal

  • Entering the Portuguese market is currently very difficult for startups because:
    • The Portuguese market suffers indeed from a population recorded at only 10 million people an unemployment rate recorded at 16% and a purchasing power of Portuguese consumers still 6% below its per 2008 financial crisis level.
    • Tax hikes are likely because Portugal is the EU’s 3rd most publicly indebted country (126% of GDP) and the government will cut is deficit from -4.9% to -2.5% in 2015
    • Portuguese banks provided no support to local business as over 40% of loan applications from SMEs are rejected lending rates are recorded at 6% and the country’s largest bank has collapsed with more likely to follow
  • Business pay high taxes in Portugal
    • Standard tax rates are corporate tax 21% and a surcharge up to 1.5% levied by municipalities. VAT 23% and Social Security contributions 24.75%. Consequently, tax paid by business represents over 43% of their profits, more than the already high EU average (42%)
    • Portugal punishes successful businesses, as corporate tax rate increases by up to 7% when revenue climb over €1.5 million
    • Sales of real estate are subject to a tax with rates levied at rates of up to 8% of the property value
    • Exiting the Portuguese market is costly. A company transferring its tax residence abroad must pay an onerous exit tax, as the transferred assets are considered unrealized capitals gains and therefore subject to corporate tax.
  • Portugal-based companies have trouble finding productive employees
    • Portuguese worker’s hourly productivity is indeed recorded at only €17, much lover than the EU average (€32)
    • it is complicated to dismiss a poor-performing Portuguese employee. The procedure requests the employer to provide a notice of up to 2 months and a compensation averaging 34 weeks of salary, the 13th highest figure in the world.
    • The local workforce is ranked as the 9th least proficient in English among 23 surveyed European countries.
    • In Portugal as only 18% of the active population holds a university degree 36% of the active population has never used a computer and the country suffers from an important brain drain to other EU countries.

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE COMPANY FORMATION SERVICES & FEES

 

The World Bank “Ease of doing Business -ranking”

Overall rank 2016: rank 25th
– Starting a business: rank 6
– Dealing with construction permits: rank 35
– Getting electricity: rank 50
– Registering property: rank 27
– Getting credit: rank 101
– Protecting minority investors: rank 270
– Paying taxes: rank 38
– Trading across borders rank 1
– Enforcing contract: rank 19
– Resolving Insolvency: rank 7

 

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE COMPANY FORMATION SERVICES & FEES

Why You Should Become a Tax Resident in Portugal

Portugal is one of the best EU residency and citizenship programs available. It’s much easier and more “business friendly” than competitors such as Malta and Austria. If you wish to stay in Portugal for longer than the tourist limit of 90 days out of every 180 days, then you should look into getting a residence visa. There are several types of visas available, including visas for students, the self-employed, and investors. Portugal also offers a so-called Golden Visa. Among other requirements, non-EU citizens will need to show proof that they have private healthcare insurance valid in Europe, as well as sufficient funds to support themselves and cover the cost of accommodation in Portugal and also need to give permission for a background check for a criminal record.

Rates for different activities are as follow:

  • Income Tax: 14,5 – 48 percent
  • Value-added Tax: 23 percent, Madeira 22 percent and Azores 16 percent
  • Corporate Tax: 21 percent
  • Property Tax: from 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent

Eligibility for Tax Residency in Portugal

If you’re retired or have a pension of around $1,200 a month, you can get residency in Portugal quite easily. Start by entering the country on 120-day visa. Bring with you the required paperwork, including a police or FBI clearance report and proof pension or retirement distributions. Once you’re settled, you can apply for a one-year temporary residence permit. This can be  renewed for successive two-year periods. After five years of temporary residence you can request permanent residency status.

Golden Residence

ADVANTAGES OF THE PORTUGUESE GOLDEN VISA

  • Straightforward and flexible investment requirements
  • Extremely low minimum stay requirements – 7 days first year and 14 days following periods of 2 years
  • Possibility of Permanent Residency after 5 years and nationality after 6 years
  • No limitations on ownership of the selected investment
  • Residency applications quickly processed
  • Fully extensible to family members (with no further investment requirements)
  • Freedom to travel to all European countries members of the Schengen area
  • No limitation on subsequent investments or employment opportunities
  • Very limited number of documents required
  • Access to all Portuguese Public Services, including health and education

Portuguese residence permits via investment for non-EU nationals provide an opportunity to obtain residence status, and contribute towards eligibility for a citizenship application after six years as a resident.

Previously, residence was granted where investments were made into Portugal in one of the following forms:

i) The purchase of real estate of EUR 500,000 or more
ii) Capital investment of at least EUR 1 million to a Portuguese bank account or flexible investment
iii) The creation of at least 10 jobs in Portugal

In September 2015, four new qualifying options were introduced.

The new options for Capital Investment are:

i) The transfer of funds of at least EUR 350,000 to be applied to research activities carried out by entities which are part of the national scientific and technological system
ii) The transfer of funds of at least EUR 250,000 to be applied in investment or support for artistic production, or the recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage
iii) The transfer of funds of at least EUR 500,000 for the acquisition of units in investment or venture capital funds for the capitalization of small and medium size companies

The new option for Property Acquisition is:

iv) The purchase of a property for the minimum amount of EUR 350,000 for the purpose of refurbishing it, for properties that were constructed more than 30 years ago or are located in areas of urban regeneration. The EUR 350,000 threshold includes not only the property’s price but also the investment in the refurbishment works

Freedom Index: Portugal

Overall rank 2016: 63th (60/100 points)
– Property rights: 90/100 points
– Freedom from taxes: 43/100 points
– Freedom of speech/religion: 100/100 points
– Limited government: 21/100 points
– Gun rights: 32/100 points
– Drug rights: 20/100 points
– Freedom from corruption: 89/100 points
– Freedom from inflation: 83/100 points
– Business freedom: 91/100 points

 

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE RESIDENCY SERVICE PACK & FEES

Taxes in Portugal

  • Residence: A company is resident if it is legal seat or place of effective management is in Portugal
  • Basis: A resident companies are subject to tax on worldwide profits; nonresident are taxed only on Portuguese-source profits. Foreign-source profits derived by residents are subject to corporate tax in the same way as Portuguese-source profits. By election, profits arising from a foreign permanent establishment may be tax exempt. Branches of nonresident companies are taxed only on Portuguese-source profits.
  • Taxable income: Corporate tax is charged on a company’s profits, which consist of business/trading income, passive income and capital gains. Expenses are deductible to the extent that they are necessary for the purpose of generating taxable income and are properly documented. Small business are eligible for a simplified tax regime, under which taxable income is determined as a percentage (depending on activity) of turnover.
  • Taxation of dividends: See below “participation exemption”
  • Capital gains: Are not subject to tax
  • Losses Operating losses may be carried forward for five years (12 years for small and medium-sized enterprises). The losses used in any year may not exceed 70% of the taxable profits. If at least 50% of the capital or the majority of the voting rights have been transferred, carryforward is allowed only if authorized by the Minister of Finance. The carryback of losses is not permitted. Capital losses on the sales of shares that are not eligible for the participation exemption are deductible, subject to certain restrictions.
  • Foreign tax creditPortugal grants a tax credit up to the amount of Portuguese tax payable on foreign income, which is calculated net of expenses on a per-country basis. By election, profits of foreign permanent establishments may be exempt. Credit for underlying tax may be available if the conditions for the participation exemption are not met.
  • Participation exemption:Under Portugal’s participation exemption regime, dividends received and capital gains realized by a resident company from a domestic or foreign shareholding are exempt from tax, provided the shareholder is not considered a transparent entity and has held, directly or indirectly, at least 10% of the capital or voting rights of the other company for at least 12 months. The subsidiary may not be resident in a listed tax haven and must be subject to, and not exempt from, an income tax listed in the EU parent-subsidiary directive or an income tax rate that is equal to at least 60% of the Portuguese corporate tax rate. The exemption for dividends is not applicable if the payment is deductible for the payer. An ordinary credit is available when the conditions for the application of the participation exemption regime are not fully satisfied, with an option for an underlying tax credit for dividends on foreign shareholdings of at least 10% held for at least 12 months.
Taxable income: There are six categories of income that are subject to personal income tax: employment income, business and professional income, investment income, real estate income, increases in net worth and pensions. Investment income, real estate income and capital gains on securities are taxed at progressive rates.
Taxation of dividends: Dividends paid to a nonresident company are subject to withholding tax at 25% (35% if paid to a resident of a listed tax haven). The rate may be reduced to 0% where the conditions for the domestic participation exemption regime are met and the recipient of dividends is resident in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) or a tax treaty jurisdiction. If the participation exemption does not apply, the rate may be reduced under a tax treaty.
VAT registration: The registration on threshold is a total value of supplies exceeding XCD 120 000 per annum. Voluntary registration is allowed at the discretion of the Comptroller of Inland Revenue, VAT Rates: The standard rate is 15%. A reduced rate of 10% applies in the tourism sector and a 20% rate applies to the telecommunications sector. Certain goods and services also may be zero-rated or exempt-
– VAT Rates: The standard rate is 15%
Surtax: No
Alternative minimum tax: No
Withholding tax (general): 15%
– From Dividends Dividends paid to a nonresident company are subject to withholding tax at 25% (35% if paid to a resident of a listed tax haven). The rate may be reduced to 0% where the conditions for the domestic participation exemption regime are met and the recipient of dividends is resident in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) or a tax treaty jurisdiction. If the participation exemption does not apply, the rate may be reduced under a tax treaty.
– From Royalties Royalty payments made to a nonresident company are subject t withholding tax at 25% (35% if paid to a resident of a listed tax), unless the rate is reduced under a tax treaty. Under the EU interest and royalties directive, payments to qualifying EU recipients are exempt.
– From Interests Interest paid to a nonresident company is subject to withholding tax at 25% (35% if paid to resident of a listed tax haven), unless reduced under a tax treaty. Under the EU interest and royalties directive payments to qualifying EU recipients are exempt.
– Technical services Technical service fees paid to a non-resident company are subject to withholding tax at 25%, unless the rate is reduced or eliminated under a tax treaty
Transfer tax: Real estate transfer tax is levied by municipalities at a maximum rate of 6% on the transfer of residential property, 5% on the transfer of rural property, 6,5% on the transfer of urban property and 10% in the purchase is located in a listed tax haven.
Capital gains tax: Are not subject to tax.
Real property tax: A real property tax is levied annually by municipalities, and is payable by the registered owner on 31 December. The rates range from 0,3% to 0.8% of the taxable value of the property and tax is deductible for corporate tax purposes. A rate of 7.5% applies if the owner of the real property is located in a listed tax haven.  As from 2017 entities or individuals owning residential real estate or building land will be subject to an additional real property tax (AIMI). The AIMI tax base corresponds to the sum of the fiscal value of all the eligible urban properties owned by each taxpayer. For individuals, the AIMI will be levied at progressive rates up to 1%, depending on the amount of the AIMI tax base. For corporate taxpayers, The AIMI rate is 0.4%, regardless of the amount of the AIMI tax base. For entities domiciled in listed tax havens, the AIMI rate is 7,5%.
Social security: The employee contributes 11% of his/her gross salary, and the employer contributes 23.75%
Payroll tax: No
Stamp duty: Subject to exemptions, stamp duty is levied on various types of agreements, deeds and documents, as well as certain transactions not subject to VAT, such as the acquisition of real estate, leases and subleases, financial transactions, insurance premium and certain bets.
Capital duty: No
Tax treaties: Portugal has 68 tax treaties in force
Anti-avoidance rules:
– Transfer pricing Portugal’s transfer pricing rules generally follow OECD transfer pricing guidelines. The tax authorities may make pricing adjustments if special relations exists between the parties. Companies must prepare documentation to support their transfer pricing policies. Advance pricing agreements are available.
– Thin capitalization rule Specific limitations apply to the tax deductibility of interest expense. Net financial costs are deductible only up to  the greater of the following thresholds: EUR 1 million or 30% of EBITDA as adjusted for tax purposes. Companies reporting under a tax group level. The amount exceeding the thresholds in a given year may be carried forward for the following five years , up to the 30% threshold.
– Disclosure requirements Taxpayers on their agents are obliged to disclose to the Portuguese tax authorities certain corporate restructurings or transactions in which they are involved that may lead to substantial tax benefits. For accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016, resident entities that are included in multinational groups are required to file a declaration disclosing certain financial and tax information, on a country-by-country basis.

Compliance for corporation:

  • Tax year: The tax year generally corresponds to the calendar year, although a different tax year is possible for resident companies and nonresident companies with a permanent establishment in Portugal. Once selected, the same tax accounting period must be maintained for at least five years.
  • Consolidated returns: Consolidated returns may be filed by resident groups. A group consists of the dominant company and 75% or more directly or indirectly held subsidiaries ( With more than 50% of voting rights held by the dominant company). The following requirements must be met to file a consolidated return: (1) all members of the group must have their seat or place of effective management in Portugal(group members may be held indirectly by a company resident in an EU/EEA member state, provided the latter is held, directly or indirectly, at least 75% by the dominant company), and must be subject to the general tax regime: (2) the dominant company must hold the participation in the group companies for more than one year: (3) the dominant company may not be considered dominated by another Portuguese eligible company and (4) the dominant company may not have opted out of the consolidated regime within the previous three years.
  • Filling requirements: Self-assessments applies and electronic filing is mandatory. The tax return must be filed within five months of the end of the accounting period. The supporting accounting and tax report must be filed by the 15th day of the seven month following the company’s year end. Advance corporate tax and the national surtax are payable in installments.
  • Penalties: Penalties and interest are imposed for late filing, failure to file or other instances of noncompliance with the tax law.
  • Rulings: Three types of rulings are available to taxpayers: general, advance and advance pricing agreements (APAs). A general ruling provides the tax authorities general interpretation of the law. An advance ruling provides the taxpayer with the tax authorities position on a specific transaction. In an APA, the taxpayer obtains an agreement on the transfer pricing policies to be adopted in transactions between related entities.
  • Tax authorities: Tax and Customs Authority (Autoridade Tributaria e Aduaneira)

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE COMPANY FORMATION SERVICES & FEES

Personal Taxation in Portugal 2017

Personal taxation basis:

  • Resident individuals are taxed on their worldwide income. Nonresident individuals are taxed only on their Portuguese-source income.

Tax Residence:

  • An individual is resident if he/she os present in Portugal for 183 days or more in any twelve-month period or, if he/she is present in Portugal at any time during the year. Individuals that were not Portuguese resident in any of the five tax years before moving to Portugal may request a special non-habitual tax residency status for 10 years. Non-habitual residents are taxable on worldwide income, but exempt from tax on certain foreign-source income. Portugal also has the concept of part-years residency.

Filling status:

  • Married individuals are taxed separately, but may choose to file a joint tax return unless one spouse is nonresident, in which case the resident spouse files a separate tax return.

Income tax rates in Portugal

  • Rates are progressive up to 48%. In 2017, the surcharge tax applicable to income in excess of the minimum wage will be reduced to a maximum of 3.21% (from 3.5% in 2016), and the surcharge withholding obligation will be gradually abolished during 2017. An additional surcharge of 2.5% applies to income between EUR 80 000 and EUR 250 000. For income over EUR 250 000, the additional surcharge rate is 5%. Non-habitual resident individuals are eligible for a flat 20% rate on income related to work or services rendered in Portugal involving activities defined in a ministerial order.

Social security payments in Portugal:

  • The employee contributes 11% of his/her gross salary, and the employer contributes 23.75%.

Inheritance/estate tax in Portugal:

  • For gifts and inheritances, stamp duty is imposed at 10% ( unless the heir is the spouse, descendant or ancestor of the donor/deceased, in which case an exemption applies)

Net wealth/net worth tax in Portugal:

  • No

Tax year:

  • Calendar year

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE RESIDENCY SERVICE PACK & FEES

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE COMPANY FORMATION SERVICES & FEES

Our Services in Portugal

Consulting & advisory services for Portuguese entities

  • Due diligence process
  • Foreign Market entry & Supplier search
  • Business Plans & Descriptions
  • Development & Capital Advisory
  • International Tax Planning
  • Golden Visa
  • Funding & Investor Search
  • Business Restructuring via Offshore entities
  • Exit Strategy & IPO
  • Problem solving in Portugal | by Novasigma Accounting & Law partner office

PLEASE CONTACT US TO SCHEDULE A MEETING WITH THE NOVASIGMA CONSULTANT

Incorporation, administration & business services in Portugal

Incorporation services in Portugal

  • New company formations in Portugal
  • Ready-Made Portuguese companies
  • Company Closures and liquidations in Portugal

Company administration in Portugal

  • Legal registration address service for a Portuguese company
  • Company secretarial service for a Portuguese company
  • Nominee director services
  • Nominee shareholder services

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE COMPANY FORMATION SERVICES & FEES

Additional business services in Portugal (by Novasigma Certified Partners)

  • Virtual office services in Portugal
  • Hosting services
  • Real estate in Portugal (offices, trade facilities, industrial)

Accounting, bookkeeping & audit for a Portuguese entity

Some of the common domestic accounting services we provide in Portugal include

  • Bookkeeping and accounting
  • Invoicing and payments
  • Annual accounts
  • Monthly Reconciliation
  • Monthly financial statements (including balance sheet and income statement)
  • Payroll services
  • Income and tax return
  • Management accounts

Value Added Tax (VAT)

  • VAT registration
  • Advice on VAT scheme options
  • VAT returns and declarations

Audit

  • Annual accounts in view of an annual audit and attend accounting audits

READ MORE: ACCOUNTING AND BOOKKEEPING SERVICES & FEES IN PORTUGAL

Legal services for Portuguese companies and business owners

Legal services in Portugal for all Novasigma Clients including companies and their owners and directors

Novasigma has built in Portugal a team of lawyers, associates and legal advisers to assist our clients with a business and tax planning, overseas business operations, risk management and other legal matters. Primarily focused on business transactions, Novasigma Accounting & Law corporate attorneys are a great asset to a small and large businesses. With a background on corporate law, our corporate lawyers and legal advisers have an in depth knowledge on the transactions that may put your business at risk of litigation. These include contracts and negotiations, taxation laws, business structuring, buy/sell agreements, and intellectual property, among others.

PLEASE CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LEGAL SERVICES IN PORTUGAL

Banking, financial and insurance services in Portugal

Banking services in Portugal

  • Business bank accounts
  • Personal bank account opening for business owners
  • Payment service providers
  • Investment solutions
  • Alternative banking solutions

Financial services in Potugal

  • Debt collection services
  • Invoice funding & cash flow solutions
  • Factoring
  • Leasing
  • Wealth management

Insurance services in Portugal

  • Insurances for corporations
  • Insurances for business owners and their families

PLEASE CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES IN PORTUGAL

Tax residencies & Immigration services

  • Meeting with Novasigma before applying Portuguese residency
  • Assistance in applying a tax residency from Portugal
  • Personal bank account in POrtugal
  • Portuguese ID card
  • Golden Visa
  • Address service available for Novasigma business clients

READ MORE: PORTUGUESE RESIDENCY SERVICE PACK & FEES

 

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Interested in Portugal? Please leave us a message and we will get back to you shortly.

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