Streamlining Taxation in Portugal: Guide for Visa Residency by Investment

Are you considering moving to Portugal and wondering how taxes work in this vibrant country? As a seasoned expat who has lived in Portugal for several years, I can tell you that the tax system here is both unique and fascinating.

One of the first things I noticed when I moved here was the simplicity of the tax system. Unlike in some other countries, where tax codes can be bafflingly complex, the rules in Portugal are refreshingly straightforward. For example, income tax rates range from 14.5% to 48%, depending on how much you earn. It’s easy to calculate how much you owe, and the government even provides an online tax portal that makes it simple to file your returns.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t some quirks to the system. For example, Portugal offers a non-habitual resident (NHR) tax regime, which allows certain expats to receive significant tax breaks for their first ten years in the country. As an NHR myself, I’ve been able to save thousands of euros in taxes each year.

Another unique aspect of taxes in Portugal is the way that property taxes are calculated. Instead of basing them on the value of your property, as is common in many other countries, the Portuguese government calculates taxes on the value of your property’s land. This means that if you have a large house on a small plot of land, you may end up paying less in taxes than someone with a smaller house on a larger plot.

Of course, as with any tax system, there are still plenty of nuances and details to be aware of. That’s why I’ve written this comprehensive guide to taxes in Portugal, which will cover everything from income taxes to VAT to property taxes and more. So whether you’re thinking of moving to Portugal or are already here and want to ensure you’re staying tax-compliant, this guide is for you.

Do expats pay taxes in Portugal?

If you’re considering a move to Portugal, one of the many questions you might be asking yourself is: do expats pay taxes in Portugal? The short answer is yes. However, like with most tax systems, the answer is a bit more complicated than that.

Residency status

The first thing you need to consider is your residency status. If you spend less than 183 days a year in Portugal, you’re considered a non-resident. As a non-resident, you only pay tax on income earned in Portugal. If you’re a resident, however, you’re required to pay tax on your worldwide income.

Tax rates

The tax rates in Portugal range from 14.5% to 48%. The exact rate you’ll pay depends on your income level, as well as your residency status. Generally speaking, the more you earn, the higher tax rate you’ll pay.

Deductions and exemptions

Now for the good news: there are several deductions and exemptions available to expats in Portugal. For example, if you’re a non-habitual resident, you may be eligible for a flat tax rate of 20% on certain types of income. Additionally, there are deductions available for things like healthcare expenses and charitable donations.

Golden visa program

It’s also worth mentioning the golden visa program. This program allows individuals who invest a certain amount of money in Portugal to obtain residency in the country. While this doesn’t necessarily exempt you from paying taxes, it can make the process of obtaining residency and navigating the tax system easier.

Is Portugal still a tax haven?

When it comes to taxes in Portugal, there has been a lot of buzz around whether or not Portugal is still considered a tax haven. As an expat who has lived in Portugal for several years and has navigated through the local tax system, I am here to shed some light on the topic.

What is a tax haven?

A tax haven is a country or region that offers individuals and businesses a low-tax or no-tax environment. This includes countries that have a low or no corporate tax rate, a lack of transparency in financial transactions, and a lack of cooperation with international tax authorities.

Portugal’s tax system

Portugal offers a relatively low tax rate compared to other European countries. The maximum income tax rate is 48%, but it only applies to income over €80,000 per year. For income under €7,112, the tax rate is 14.5%. For income between €7,113 and €10,732, the tax rate is 23%. For income between €10,733 and €20,322, the tax rate is 28.5%. For income between €20,323 and €25,075, the tax rate is 35%. For income between €25,076 and €36,967, the tax rate is 37%. For income between €36,968 and €80,000, the tax rate is 45%.

There is also a flat tax rate for non-habitual residents (NHRs) of 20% for certain types of income, such as income from foreign sources, royalties, and capital gains. NHRs are individuals who have not been a resident in Portugal during the previous five years and meet other criteria.

Golden Visa and tax benefits

Portugal’s Golden Visa program is a popular choice for individuals looking to obtain residency in Portugal and take advantage of tax benefits. The program offers a pathway to residency for non-EU citizens who invest in Portugal. This includes investing in property, creating jobs, or making a capital transfer.

Golden Visa holders can benefit from a flat tax rate of 20% on certain types of income, such as income from foreign sources, royalties, and capital gains. They are also exempt from tax on income arising from foreign pensions, as long as there is a double taxation agreement in place between Portugal and the country where the pension is paid.

How much tax do foreign residents pay in Portugal?

If you’re considering moving to Portugal, it’s important to understand the country’s tax system. As a foreign resident, you’ll be subject to Portuguese taxation on your worldwide income, assets, and gains. But how much tax can you expect to pay?

First, it’s important to note that Portugal offers a special tax regime for non-habitual residents (NHRs). This regime allows eligible foreigners to benefit from a flat tax rate of 20% on certain types of income, including pensions, dividends, and royalties. The NHR regime also exempts income earned outside of Portugal from Portuguese taxation, as long as it’s subject to tax in the country of origin.

For other types of income, including employment income and business profits, foreign residents are subject to Portugal’s progressive income tax rates. These rates range from 14.5% to 48%, depending on the amount of income earned. For example, in 2021, individuals who earn up to €7,112 are subject to a tax rate of 14.5%, while those who earn over €80,882 are subject to a tax rate of 48%.

In addition to income tax, foreign residents may also be subject to Portugal’s wealth tax, which is levied on worldwide assets exceeding €600,000. The tax rate starts at 0.2% and increases to 0.5% for assets over €10 million.

It’s worth noting that Portugal has several tax incentives for investors, including the popular “Golden Visa” program. This program offers residency to foreigners who invest at least €500,000 in Portuguese real estate. Investors who meet certain criteria may also qualify for tax exemptions or reduced tax rates under Portugal’s non-habitual resident regime.

It’s important to consult with a tax professional to understand your tax obligations in Portugal and to take advantage of any available tax incentives.

Is my US Social Security taxed in Portugal?

If you’re an American expat living in Portugal, you may be wondering whether your US Social Security benefits are subject to taxes in your new country. The answer is not straightforward, but we’ll break it down for you in this guide.

The Bilateral Tax Treaty

First, let’s understand the Bilateral Tax Treaty between the United States and Portugal. This treaty states that Social Security benefits are only taxable in the country of residence. Therefore, if you are a resident of Portugal, your US Social Security benefits are not taxable in the United States.

Portugal’s Tax Laws

According to Portugal’s tax laws, foreign-sourced income, including Social Security benefits, may be taxable in Portugal. However, Portugal offers a tax exemption for foreign pension income for non-habitual residents (NHRs). NHRs are individuals who have not been a resident of Portugal for the past five years and who fulfill certain criteria.

Practical Tips

If you are receiving US Social Security benefits in Portugal, it’s important to consult a tax professional to determine your tax obligations. You may be eligible for the NHR tax exemption, but it’s important to ensure that you meet the criteria and are following all necessary procedures.

Additionally, it’s important to note that Portugal has a tax treaty with the United States, which means that you may be able to claim a tax credit on your US tax return for any taxes paid in Portugal on your Social Security benefits.

Personal Experience

As an American expat living in Portugal, I can attest to the importance of understanding tax laws and seeking professional advice. When I first moved to Portugal, I was unsure about my tax obligations and was worried about potential double taxation. However, I consulted a tax professional who helped me navigate the process and ensure that I was following all necessary procedures.

Ultimately, understanding the tax implications of Social Security benefits in Portugal is crucial for any American expat living in the country. By doing your research and seeking professional advice, you can ensure that you are meeting your tax obligations and maximizing your financial benefits.

Portugal has proven to be a popular destination for expats looking to work abroad. With a thriving economy, welcoming culture, and favorable tax laws, it’s no wonder that more and more people are considering moving to this beautiful country. However, as with any major life decision, it’s important to do your research and seek expert advice before making any investments in real estate. As a Portuguese buyer’s agent, I can attest to the benefits of working with a professional who has a deep understanding of the local market, legal aspects, and property management. By taking these factors into consideration, you can make an informed decision and enjoy all that Portugal has to offer as an expat.


I’ve written extensively about Portugal Visa Residency by Investment. Explore more articles about it: