Contributed by PLMJ Law Firm
Portugal offers a number of benefits that make it a choice destination for leading global companies and industries:
• Strategic location
• Gateway to wider markets
• Highly developed infrastructure and communications
• Business friendly environment
• Highly skilled workforce and flexible human resources
• Top destination for global multinationals
• Competitive tax system
Regarding the first factor, Portugal truly has a privileged geographic location. Located on Europe’s west coast and in the same time zone as London, Portugal is the nearest European country to the US and Brazil. This makes us a perfect entry point to the European Union.
The second factor: Portugal is a strategic platform for African and Portuguese-speaking countries, making it an effective gateway to wider markets. Portugal is an EU Member State and part of the Eurozone. As such it enjoys benefits including free trade, non-tariff barriers and free movement of labour and capital. Furthermore, Portuguese is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world, covering countries like Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Principe, Guinea-Bissau and East Timor. Portugal lies at the heart of this group of countries.
The third point reflects our highly developed infrastructure, logistics and communications networks. We have five main sea ports receiving international traffic. All have rail access and regular cargo lines linking Portugal to North, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. We have four international rail routes exiting Portugal that create a complete logistical chain, with rail-road-port terminals throughout the country. Portugal also has highly developed road systems with excellent national and international accessibility.
When it comes to technological communications, 90% of public services are online. Portugal has the broadest internet coverage in the EU and benefits from the second highest broadband speed among OECD countries.
The fourth factor is Portugal’s business friendly environment. This is a global nation which is open to foreign cultures, religions and beliefs. Last year Portugal ranked number two in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. Within this context it is worth mentioning the new golden visa scheme which gives non-EU individuals very favourable conditions to obtain a visa permit and, therefore, full access to the EU.
Regarding business itself, as we have said, all major public services are online and it is possible to set up a company using the Internet in less than an hour. Additionally, a number of legal obligations have been eliminated or simplified, allowing investors to focus on their key activities.
Our highly talented workforce and adaptable HR make up the fifth factor. 42% of Portuguese people speak a second language and the study of English, plus French, German or Spanish is mandatory from elementary school.
Portugal is a top destination for global multinationals - this is the sixth factor. Portugal has a competitive tax system in line with most of its European counterparts and it follows most OECD guidelines.
At the international level, Portugal is subject to all EU Directives regarding the elimination of double taxation and has signed more than 50 related conventions, including with all Portuguese-speaking countries except Angola, which has not yet entered into any treaties.
Another element worthy of consideration is that Portuguese tax legislation includes a specific rule preventing the double taxation of profits distributed by companies resident in Portuguese-speaking African countries and in East Timor.
At the domestic level, Portuguese tax legislation also provides a number of fiscal and financial benefits designed to encourage foreign investment which are worth mentioning.
An important factor is that capital gains made on the transfer of securities by foreign entities that are not domiciled in blacklisted jurisdictions, and which are not subject to indirect control of 25% or more by Portuguese residents, benefit from full tax exemption.
Portuguese legislation also features special debt securities tax rules under which investment income paid to non-resident beneficiaries, as well as capital gains deriving from the sale or other disposal of such debt securities, are exempt from Portuguese income tax and consequently from withholding tax. Other withholding tax exemptions on interest and rent payments made by public entities to foreign lenders may also apply under certain conditions.
Additionally, a special personal taxation framework has been established for non-habitual residents. In a nutshell, this regime applies to all individual taxpayers who become Portuguese tax residents provided they have not been taxed here as tax residents in the previous 5 years. Individuals are considered non-habitual residents upon registration with the local tax services. This new scheme is in effect for a 10-year period and taxes employment and self-employment income from high value added activities performed in Portugal at a standard 20% rate. However, provided certain conditions are met, foreign-sourced income such as employment income, self-employment income, rental income, investment income and capital gains may be tax exempt.
A range of tax incentives are also available for investment in business R&D, corporate restructuring and for investment projects deemed to be of interest to the country’s economic development and the reduction of regional imbalances.
Finally, it is worth noting that Portugal has implemented a tax arbitration system designed to achieve a quicker resolution of any tax disputes that may arise.
Tax - Portugal
THE FIRM This sizeable team handles tax consultancy and litigation work. It advises on a broad scope of issues, but its restructuring and contentious tax advice has been in particularly high demand of late. Due to its Spanish roots, a large part of the team's workload is cross-border, and it recently handled mandates in Brazil and Portuguese-speaking African countries. Notable clients include Santander, Iberdrola, Portugal Telecom and IBM.
Sources say: "The team is very responsive to my demands and always presents innovative solutions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head Fernando Castro Silva is a well-established tax lawyer with ample experience in the sector.
Miguel Reis is another strong performer who acts mainly in Porto.
THE FIRM This well-established Portuguese firm houses its tax team within the public law and international law department. Operating out of Lisbon, Porto and Funchal, the 20-strong group offers a one-stop service covering international and domestic tax law. Its client list includes Accenture, Barclays, EDP - Energias de Portugal and Lusoponte.
Sources say: "A standout firm with a very good and reputable team." "The best tax lawyers in Portugal."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Francisco de Sousa da Câmara co-ordinates the Lisbon and Funchal teams. Sources say he is "calm, thinks ahead and is very strategic."
António Lobo Xavier co-ordinates the Porto team. He maintains an excellent reputation for his expertise in this area.
THE FIRM This prestigious team of 15 has seen an increase in contentious instructions, including transfer pricing litigation and arbitration. It has also advised on the tax aspects of restructurings and disposals in a wide range of sectors. Its client portfolio features well-known names such as Embraer, Eurimobe, Iberdrola and Sony Europe. In a recent work highlight, the lawyers advised Portucel Soporcel on transfer pricing issues.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice co-head Miguel Teixeira de Abreu has been active in transfer pricing and arbitration cases.
Duarte de Athayde is particularly sought for due diligence and tax advice involving EU law.
Maria Dulce Soares is another standout name in the group.
THE FIRM A team of 12 tax experts at this Iberian powerhouse houses handle a wide range of matters. The lawyers' expertise extends to general corporate tax, tax litigation, transfer pricing, indirect and international taxation. Recent instructions have included restructurings and reorganisations.
Sources say: "A solid, large team that knows what it's doing."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Commentators admire well-respected Diogo Ortigão Ramos for his practical approach and "consistent knowledge of Portuguese and international tax law."
Tânia de Almeida Ferreira is noted as a specialist in real estate tax issues.
THE FIRM The tax department at this Portuguese giant has undergone a period of change following the departure of Rogério Fernandes Ferreira. It now offers a ten-strong team of tax specialists who represent high-profile clients in corporate transactions and tax litigation.
Sources say: "The lawyers provide an excellent level of attention to the client and demonstrate a superb knowledge of the market and the latest legislation."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department co-head João Magalhães Ramalho is described by peers as a "solid tax lawyer."
Nuno da Cunha Barnabé debuts in the table this year. Clients are impressed by his knowledge of tax law and say: "He works quickly and brings solutions and ideas."
Tax specialist and arbitrator Serena Cabrita Neto enters the rankings following warm client recognition. "I am impressed with her ability to solve problems using her technical knowledge and large experience in a timely and appropriate way," declares an interviewee.
THE FIRM This outstanding Iberian firm assists clients with the tax aspects of transactions, financings and contentious matters. The group has seen an increase in tax litigation cases as well as wealth management work. In a recent highlight, it assisted Altice with the tax issues associated with its acquisition of Cabovisão. Further clients include Galp Energia, Banco Atlântico Europa, Swiss Life and Camargo Corrêa.
Sources say: "The team works as hard and as devotedly as if they were part of your company." "The lawyers have a deep knowledge of tax and Portuguese law."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Filipe Romão heads the department. Sources say: "He shows deep expertise and knows what to do in any matter regarding tax law in Portugal."
Porto-based Miguel Durham Agrellos is another strong performer in the team.
THE FIRM This compact tax team greatly benefits from the wider CMS network, namely through additional work and a strengthening of its international expertise. It has a transactional focus and advises clients such as EDP - Energias de Portugal, Explorer Investments, Venevision International and Windplus. It is also increasingly active in contentious tax work, particularly tax arbitration matters. It recently assisted Ongoing Group with the tax issues of its acquisition of a 49% stake in IBT.
Sources say: "The lawyers always find a good solution to our problems."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Patrick Dewerbe heads the department and has been working closely with EDP. He is noted as "very practical, and always ahead."
Key partner Nuno Pena has considerable expertise in tax litigation.
THE FIRM This compact high-quality team takes advantage of the firm's strong global presence and focus on international work. It covers transactional, planning and contentious tax matters. Its client roster features Rio Tinto, Citi, Banco Comercial Português and Deutsche Bank. In a recent standout mandate, the group advised Hanwha on cross-border tax legislation related to the acquisition of two photovoltaic solar plant projects in Portugal.
Sources say: "Excellent firm, especially when it comes to international business."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Rui Pereira Camacho Palma leads the team and has been active in complex transactional matters. He is noted as "top notch: very quick, clear and client-oriented."
Peers recognise Ricardo Reigada Pereira as an excellent practitioner. He is noted for his English language skills.
THE FIRM This recently founded Portuguese tax boutique joins the rankings following impressive feedback from clients and peers. The bulk of its work is tax litigation but it has dedicated groups to handle matters in all tax areas. It recently represented high-profile private companies in Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Mozambique and Cape Verde.
Sources say: "The biggest quality of the team is its technical excellence in tax. The lawyers are also very good in litigation and have wide and deep knowledge."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Rogério Fernandes Ferreira is the driving force behind the team. Clients admire his tax litigation expertise, and describe him as "available, proactive and solution-oriented."
THE FIRM This famed Portuguese boutique handles a range of tax mandates including consulting, litigation, planning and legislation design. It has also advised on structuring and restructuring operations. The team acts on behalf of both international and domestic clients.
Sources say: "The lawyers are proactive and client-oriented, and share solutions with us – we work together as a team." "Knowledgeable, flexible, hard-working and solution-focused."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ricardo da Palma Borges earns accolades as a "technically brilliant" lawyer. Commentators also underline his client-oriented attitude.
THE FIRM This dynamic team of 13 lawyers is subdivided into smaller groups offering specific expertise. It handles a broad range of matters, including international taxation, VAT and indirect taxes, litigation and arbitration. A recent mandate saw it advise PT Comunicações on the tax aspects of the development of the biggest data centre in Portugal. Further clients include Deutsche Bank, McDonald’s, José de Mello Group and Hoffmann-La Roche.
Sources say: "Its vast knowledge of the financial markets allows the team to provide a high-quality service. It provides solutions best adapted to the client's objectives."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients admire practice head Tiago Marreiros Moreira for his "open and solution-oriented mindset."
Conceição Gamito is an acknowledged indirect tax specialist.
Joaquim Lampreia joins the rankings this year after warm feedback from sources: "He is fantastic technically, responsive and very helpful."
THE FIRM This tax team handles a range of matters including VAT, litigation, arbitration and tax planning. It assists national and international clients from an array of industries, including banking, tobacco and aviation. Well-known names such as Indesit, Yamaha, Lufthansa and Cisco Systems feature.
Sources say: "The team is attentive and meets deadlines."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources appreciate Nuno Azevedo Neves's litigation skills and availability, and note: "He displays mastery in his field."
Peers and clients highlight António Moura Portugal's technical knowledge. "I feel confident when I have to deal with a tax matter with him," say sources.
THE FIRM This well-respected corporate boutique continues to impress interviewees with its expertise in this area. Its tax department assists clients with litigation and tax planning matters.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers single out António Gaio for his know-how and experience in tax matters.
THE FIRM This two-partner team offers the full range of tax services to banking, aviation and pharmaceutical clients. Recent mandates have related to indirect and international taxation issues; for example, the lawyers assisted Signalis and COMSA EMTE with VAT-related matters. Olympus, United Continental Holdings, Goldman Sachs and Meda Pharma are other clients of note.
Sources say: "The firm is not bureaucratic, which saves time. The lawyers trust us and we trust them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients enjoy working with Tiago Caiado Guerreiro: "He is knowledgeable and pragmatic. He explains the upside and downside of all options, so we can make the best choices," remarks an interviewee.
Sources highlight Ana Castro Gonçalves's availability and describe her as "attentive and dedicated."
THE FIRM This compact tax group advises mainly on tax litigation and the design of financial instruments for international banks. It also supports the firm's M&A and finance departments.
Sources say: "This law firm is highly proactive and has a very dedicated and personal approach. It is the type of firm you want by your side when discussing difficult and sensitive issues."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Interviewees praise António Rocha Mendes for his commercial awareness and technical knowledge, adding: "He is really available and a heavyweight lawyer."
THE FIRM This firm handles a considerable amount of international matters thanks to its membership of the WTS Alliance. Amongst the countries where it works are Spain, China, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. The group provides the full range of tax services to clients such as Redevco, C&A and Rede Record Internacional. In a recent highlight the firm advised mobile marketing and payment services provider TIM W.E. SGPS on the tax planning issues associated with its proposed – subsequently withdrawn – IPO.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Domingos Cruz is a key contact for the practice.
THE FIRM This compact full-service firm assists national and international clients with the tax issues of transactions and financings, restructurings and transfer pricing. It represents corporations as well as private individuals.
Sources say: "The team is available and dynamic."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Tax specialist João Espanha is well respected by peers.
THE FIRM This five-lawyer team handles tax consulting and litigation work in Portugal and overseas. It has been particularly active in Angola, where it represents banks and construction groups. Amongst its clients are domestic and international names including Iveco, Grupo Celsa, Medinfar and Hewlett-Packard.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Diogo Bernardo Monteiro has extensive experience in tax matters, both in Portugal and Angola.
THE FIRM This compact Portuguese boutique focuses on financial transactions and tax issues. It enjoys an outstanding reputation for its expertise, particularly in tax litigation. It represents individuals and corporations from Portugal and abroad in big-ticket cases.
Sources say: "A fantastic team – real tax experts."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Much-admired Manuel Anselmo Torres is lauded by peers for his technical knowledge and experience.
Since publication, Manuel Anselmo Torres has passed away.
THE FIRM The five-lawyer tax group at this highly regarded firm handles complex litigation, VAT, stamp duty, corporate income tax and international taxation issues. It represents mainly private companies from the energy, construction, telecoms and finance sectors.
Sources say: "The lawyers are technically skilled and available. They provide immediate answers."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Litigation specialist Gonçalo Leite de Campos leads the team. Commentators enthuse about his "capacity to adapt his strategies to the client."
THE FIRM This compact group supports the firm's corporate department in addition to assisting clients with general tax issues, tax benefits implementation, restructurings and tax litigation cases. It represents Volkswagen Autoeuropa, Hopalis – Hospital Particular de Lisboa, Dia and Amorim Energia among others.
Sources say: "This firm is the ideal size. I can always talk to the best lawyers who are available whenever I need, even when it is an emergency."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients value departmental head André Gonçalves for his responsiveness, proactive approach and technical knowledge. Commentators say: "He is thorough and very up to date, and he knows the new legislation, which is really important in this area."
THE FIRM The tax group at this finance boutique handles transactional matters, tax structuring and litigation. It represents HSBC, UBS, Hilton Worldwide and HSH Aircraft, amongst others. Clients highlight the team's proactive approach, responsiveness and well-rounded vision as key strengths.
Sources say: "The lawyers consider the full range of solutions and always select the most appropriate for our needs."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head André Dias is the main point of contact.
THE FIRM This Portuguese firm has offices in Lisbon, Faro and Ponta Delgada. It covers complex litigation cases, corporate tax, stamp duty issues and VAT, as well as providing day-to-day assistance. Prominent clients include Moviflor, Ferrobérica, Refrige and Sanjam. In a recent highlight it advised GM on real estate tax issues.
Sources say: "A very thorough and experienced firm. The lawyers are responsive and quick."
KEY INDIVIDUALS According to interviewees, Mário da Rosa Amaral is "highly skilled, experienced and very good at interacting with the client to get the final results."
THE FIRM This Portuguese firm covers a wide range of tax issues, including capital markets and banking taxes, VAT, restructuring and litigation. It has been working closely with international banks and companies from Europe, the USA, Brazil and African lusophone countries. Galp Energia, Marítimo da Madeira Futebol SAD, Banco do Brasil and BANIF are amongst its clients. Recent highlights include advising Goldman Sachs on the tax aspects of several investments and transactions in Portugal.
Sources say: "The firm answers quickly. It is really strong on tax and general Portuguese business law, as well as having good knowledge of the Latin American and Brazilian markets."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The group is led by tax specialist Paula Rosado Pereira, who is much admired by peers.
José Pedroso de Melo, formerly of CCA Advogados, receives recognition for his expertise. He joined the firm in August 2013.
THE FIRM This tax group acts on behalf of a notably international clientele which includes names from the finance, telecoms, construction and pharmaceutical sectors. Besides Portugal, the team is mostly active in Brazil, the EU and lusophone Africa. It handles international taxation, restructurings and M&A as well as arbitrations.
Sources say: "The lawyers take a practical approach to solving clients' problems. It's a proactive and up-to-date firm."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients appreciate that Leonor Xavier "has solid tax expertise and is creative in her ideas and solutions." She is an expert on Brazil and the Madeira Free Trade Zone.
Sources acknowledge António Fernandes de Oliveira of AFDO-adv for his "technical knowledge and in-depth and thorough analysis of the issues at stake."
Diogo Leite Campos of Leite Campos Soutelinho & Associados is praised for his vast experience and academic background.
Tax planning and litigation expert João Marques Pinto of Pedro Pinto, Bessa Monteiro, Reis, Branco, Alexandre Jardim & Associados - Sociedade de Advogados, RL is a highly respected market figure.
Commentators recognise Rui Barreira of Rui Barreira, Magalhães Correia, Teresa Carregueiro e Gorjão Henriques as a standout name on the Portuguese tax market.