Taxes in Portugal: A Guide for Expats in 2024

Navigating taxes in Portugal? It’s essential to understand the personal income tax rates, scaling up to 48%, a 25% tax for non-residents, corporate tax at 21%, and the VAT system with a standard rate of 23%.
April 25, 2024
Ana Fankhauser
April 25, 2024

Navigating taxes in Portugal? It’s essential to understand the personal income tax rates, scaling up to 48%, a 25% tax for non-residents, corporate tax at 21%, and the VAT system with a standard rate of 23%. This article cuts through the complexity, offering you clear guidance on managing your tax responsibilities as a resident or expat in Portugal.

Key Takeaways

  • Portugal’s tax system is multi-layered, including various state and local taxes such as value-added tax (VAT), personal income, and corporate tax, with progressive rates for residents and flat rates for non-residents.
  • Accurate residency status determination is necessary in Portugal because residents pay tax on all income, while non-residents only pay tax on income from Portuguese sources.
  • Real estate in Portugal is subject to annual property taxes (IMI and AIMI), and there are different rules for taxation of rental income, capital gains, and inheritance, offering certain exemptions and rate reductions.

Understanding the Portuguese Tax System

Portuguese tax system

The Portuguese tax system is a blend of various types of taxes that are levied on income, expenditure, and property ownership. It’s comprised of both state and local taxes, making it a comprehensive structure of financial obligations for residents and businesses alike. The VAT, or value-added tax, is a significant component of this system. It includes a general rate of 23%, an intermediate rate of 13%, and a reduced rate of 6% for essential necessities. If you’re running a business with a turnover exceeding €13,500, you’re required to register for VAT.

Understanding the basics of personal income tax, corporate tax, VAT, and other taxes applicable within Portugal is crucial for both residents and expats. It’s essential to note that all final consumption in Portugal should ideally be taxed at the standard VAT rate, with few exemptions or reduced rates for selected goods and services. This is to minimize distortions in the economy.

Personal Income Tax in Portugal

Personal Income Tax in Portugal

Now let’s delve into Portugal's personal income tax, a crucial element of the Portuguese tax system. If you’re a resident, you’ll experience progressive income tax rates, which range from 14.5% to a high of 48% on annual income bands starting at €7,703 and topping at over €81,199. Interestingly, for married taxpayers and those in de facto marriages who opt for joint taxation, the taxable income is divided by two before applying the tax rate, potentially reducing their tax burden.

If you’re a non-resident, you’ll be subject to a flat 25% income tax on your Portuguese-source income. This means you only need to pay income tax on earnings made within the country. All residents have a general tax allowance of €4,104 a year; income below this is not taxed.

Determining Tax Residency

Establishing your tax residency status is a critical step in understanding your tax obligations. In Portugal, your length of stay or regular residence in the nation determines your tax residency. If you reside in Portugal for 183 days or more within a tax year, you’re considered a tax resident. Alternatively, even if you spend fewer than 183 days in the country, having a habitual residence, indicating a primary place of living, can qualify you as a tax resident.

What does tax residency mean for you? If you’re considered a tax resident in Portugal, you’re taxed on your worldwide income. On the other hand, non-residents, defined as those who spend fewer than 183 days in the country without a habitual residence, are only taxed on their Portuguese source income. It’s essential for tax-residents to understand these distinctions.

Filing Your Annual Income Tax Returns

Once you’ve determined your tax residency status, the next step is filing your annual income tax returns. In Portugal, taxpayers are required to file their returns between April 1 and June 30 for the previous tax year. You can complete your tax returns online by registering on the government’s website or via a paper form obtained from your local tax office.

It’s crucial to meet the tax return deadline to avoid financial penalties. Failure to file a tax return by the deadline, or submission of an incomplete tax return, may result in fines ranging from €200 to €2,500. Late payments can also incur additional penalties and interest.

Corporate Tax Insights

Corporate Tax Insights

Now, let’s shift gears to corporate tax. The corporate tax rate in Portugal is 21%, and it is applied to taxable profits. This rate is applicable to businesses operating in the country. Small and medium-sized companies benefit from a reduced corporate tax rate of 17% on their first €50,000 of taxable profit. This can help support their growth and sustainability in the business environment.

This is a significant aspect of the tax obligations for businesses operating in Portugal and an incentive for small to medium-sized enterprises.

Pay Business Taxes with Efficiency

Managing taxes can be a daunting task for businesses, but there are ways to handle it efficiently. Here are some tips:

  1. Engage with a tax advisor to determine the most tax-efficient structure for your circumstances.
  2. Qualify for a reduced corporate tax rate of 17% on the first €50,000 of taxable profit.
  3. Benefit from tax credits for double taxation and various tax incentives.

By following these tips, you can effectively manage your taxes and ensure that your business is in compliance with tax regulations.

Additionally, businesses can reduce their taxable income by documenting and utilizing deductions for a variety of expenses, including production, labor, financial, marketing, and R&D costs. Portugal also offers tax incentives such as tax credits, grants, and exemptions to businesses investing in certain regions or industries, particularly startups, innovation, and employment creation.

Investment and Capital Gains Taxation

Let’s now move to the realm of investments and capital gains. In Portugal, residents are taxed on 50% of their gains from the sale of property or other assets. It’s worth noting that special rates apply to capital gains and investment income, making the tax system for investments distinct from ordinary income taxation.

There are also exemptions and reductions available for certain situations. For example, cryptocurrencies held for more than one year are exempt from capital gains tax. And if you’ve held an asset for more than two years, you can avail of a 50% reduction on capital gains.

Real Estate Capital Gains

Capital gains tax on real estate is a key consideration for property investors. For Portuguese residents, the tax rates on real estate are progressive, while non-residents are taxed at a flat rate of 28% on gains made from the sale of property in Portugal.

However, there are exemptions available. For instance, capital gains from the sale of a primary residence in Portugal may be tax-exempt if the proceeds are reinvested into buying or constructing another primary residence within Portugal or the EU/EEA within a specified timeframe. Moreover, only 50% of the gain realized from property sales is subject to tax for residents, after considering inflation relief for property owned for at least two years.

Property Tax Essentials

Property Tax Essentials

Property taxes are another crucial aspect of the Portuguese tax system. The Imposto Municipal Sobre Imóveis (IMI) is an annual property tax in Portugal, applicable based on the property’s rateable value. The registered property value for IMI calculation is typically lower, resulting in less tax.

The IMI rates vary depending on the municipality and the area where the property is located, with specific rates for urban and rural properties. Property owners are also eligible for certain IMI exemptions, like a 3–6-year exemption for properties purchased for permanent residence, depending on their assessed value.

IMI: The Municipal Property Tax

The IMI is calculated on the property’s fiscal value, which is based on criteria including:

  • the property’s age
  • size
  • amenities
  • location

The tax office establishes this financial value, known as the Valor Patrimonial Tributário (VPT), and uses it as the foundation for calculating IMI.

IMI rates are typically between 0.3% and 0.45% for residential properties, such as apartments and houses. For properties situated on agricultural land, the IMI rate is set at 0.8%. Each municipality in Portugal annually sets the IMI rate, which can range between 0.3% to 0.8%.

AIMI: Additional to IMI for Higher Valued Properties

In addition to IMI, Portugal also imposes the Adicional Imposto Municipal Sobre Imóveis (AIMI). This tax applies to high-value residential properties and plots for construction, serving as a form of property wealth tax. For individuals, progressive AIMI rates are applied, starting at 0.7% on property value over the threshold up to €1 million, and higher rates of 1% for values over €1 million and up to €2 million, and 1.5% for values above €2 million.

The standard AIMI rate for corporate entities is set at 0.4% of the full VPT value of all properties, with an increased rate of 7.5% applying to entities based in blacklisted tax havens.

Rental Income and Taxation

If you’re earning income from renting properties, you need to understand how this is taxed. For resident individuals in Portugal, rental income is taxed according to the general progressive tax rates, ranging from 14.5% to 48%, based on the income earned. Non-resident individuals, on the other hand, are subject to a flat tax rate of 28%.

It’s worth noting that individuals earning income from short-term rentals can be subject to a higher tax rate of up to 35%, depending on the income earned. You can also deduct expenses against rental income, including:

  • Fire insurance
  • Value expenses such as IMI
  • Energy certificate costs
  • Condominium fees
  • All expenses effectively incurred and paid to obtain or assure the income.

Inheritance and Wealth Tax Considerations

When it comes to inheritance and wealth taxes, Portugal has a unique system. While inheritance tax was abolished in 2004, a stamp duty of 10% is applied to inherited or gifted Portuguese assets, excluding those received by immediate family members.

This means immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, are exempt from the 10% stamp duty on inheritances and gifted property. However, for non-immediate family members, the inheritance of property is subject to a stamp duty of 10.8%, which includes a base rate of 0.8% plus an additional 10%.

Expats in Portugal may find the tax regulations surrounding gifts and inheritances particularly complex, and it is advisable to consult a tax professional, especially due to the absence of a U.S.-Portugal estate, inheritance, or gift tax treaty, which can lead to double taxation issues.

International Taxation and Double Taxation Treaties

Portugal has entered into double taxation treaties with several countries to reduce withholding tax rates on dividends, interest, and royalties for foreign nationals, encouraging cross-border trade and investment. These treaties provide tax certainty by determining the allocation of profits from cross-border dealings, alleviating double taxation risks.

Whether you’re receiving dividends, interest, or royalties from Portugal, you can take advantage of reduced withholding tax rates under these treaties. For instance, withholding tax rates on dividends for foreign nationals can be reduced by 15% to 20% under tax treaties, lowering the cost of conducting business.

Navigating Tax Treaties

Navigating tax treaties can be challenging. These treaties are established between countries to reduce double taxation and withholding taxes. Expats with Non-Habitual Residency status in Portugal can potentially avoid capital gains tax on the sale of property outside of Portugal for the first ten years of residence.

The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program’s tax benefits for expats require careful navigation to ensure all available advantages are utilized without unexpected tax liabilities. An experienced tax advisor is essential in interpreting these tax treaties and applying them correctly to avoid the complexities of double taxation that can occur due to conflicting tax laws between Portugal and an expat’s home country.

Social Security Contributions and Benefits

The Portuguese social security system provides benefits such as healthcare, pensions, and unemployment support, and it covers:

  • Portuguese nationals
  • Qualifying European Union nationals
  • Legal residents
  • Spouses and dependents of the above

Both employers and employees contribute to social security. Employers contribute 23.75% of an employee’s gross employment income, while employees contribute 11% of their gross earnings.

To qualify for retirement benefits, expats need at least 15 years of coverage, while disability benefits require five years. Benefits include support for:

  • sick leave
  • birth and adoption
  • disability
  • retirement
  • unemployment
  • death
  • work-related accidents or illnesses

Expats, particularly from the U.S., can benefit from the Totalization Agreement, which allows for exemptions from dual social security taxation and the combination of credits between both systems.

Tax Deductions and Credits

In Portugal, taxpayers can claim deductions and credits for various expenses. You can deduct up to 35% of general household expenses, with an increased limit for single parents. Also, basic tax credits are provided for each dependent child, with higher amounts for young children or multi-child families.

Health care expenses not covered by Social Security are deductible, as are education expenses, with increased deductibility for handicapped taxpayers or dependents. The total of tax credits related to health care, education, and other allowed expenses cannot exceed certain income-based limits, which can increase based on the number of dependents.

Seeking Professional Tax Advice

The complexities of the Portuguese tax system emphasize the importance of seeking professional advice from an accountant or tax expert. Tax consultancy services for expats in Portugal encompass a range of services, including:

  • Tax planning and compliance
  • Tax return preparation
  • International tax advice
  • Estate and inheritance tax planning
  • Assistance with tax audits

To optimize a tax consultation, expats should come prepared with relevant financial documents, organized records, and specific questions or concerns about their tax situation. Personal experiences highlight the use of tax accountants in Portugal for services such as obtaining NIFs and preparing income tax, further emphasizing the value of professional tax guidance.


In conclusion, navigating the Portuguese tax system, whether as a resident, an expat, or a business owner, requires a thorough understanding of a complex array of tax laws, including personal income tax, corporate tax, property tax, and inheritance tax, among others. With the help of this guide and professional tax advice, you can ensure tax compliance, maximize deductions and credits, and optimize your tax situation in Portugal. Remember, understanding your tax obligations is not just about fulfilling a legal duty; it’s an essential part of financial planning that can help you make informed decisions about your future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are US retirees taxed in Portugal?

US retirees in Portugal are taxed under the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax scheme at 20% for Portuguese-sourced income and 10% for foreign-sourced income, including retirement and social security payments.

Is Portugal a good tax haven?

Portugal offers attractive tax incentives for foreign residents, but it is not considered a tax haven in the traditional sense.

Is Portugal a tax-friendly country?

Portugal can be a tax-friendly country for non-habitual residents, who can benefit from fixed tax rates of around 20 percent for a ten-year period.

How much tax do you pay in Portugal?

Residents in Portugal are taxed on their worldwide income at progressive rates varying from 13.25% to 48%.

What's the personal income tax rate in Portugal?

The personal income tax rate in Portugal is progressive, ranging from 14.5% to 48% for residents, while non-residents are taxed at a flat 25% rate on their Portuguese-source income. It is important to consider these rates when planning your finances.

About Movingto

Movingto is a leading immigration law firm that specializes in helping individuals and families navigate the complex process of relocating to Portugal. With a team of experienced lawyers and immigration experts, provides tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.

Why Choose Movingto?

  • Expertise and Experience: Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of Portuguese immigration law and years of experience assisting clients with various visa applications, including the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, Startup Visa, and Family Reunion Visa.
  • Personalized Approach: We understand that every client's situation is different. Our lawyers take the time to listen to your goals and provide personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.
  • Comprehensive Support: offers a comprehensive range of services beyond legal advice, including assistance with document preparation, property search, and relocation planning.
  • Competitive Fees: We offer competitive fees and transparent pricing so that you know exactly what to expect.
  • Exceptional Client Service: Our team is committed to providing exceptional client service. We are responsive, attentive, and always available to answer your questions.

Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to establish a business in Portugal, a retiree looking to enjoy the country's favorable tax regime, or a family seeking to reunite in Portugal, is here to guide you every step of the way.

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