CO2 emissions tax

Dear Editor,

My wife and I are residents of Portugal living in Olhão. We spend time in Portugal as well as the USA.

In 2011 we shipped our 2010 car from the USA to Portugal quite prepared to pay taxes and the CO2 emissions tax.

Upon arrival of the car we paid customs duty of €3,500 plus a CO2 deposit of €5,000.

We took the car to the IMTT approved testing centre in Loulé and they issued a statement showing the CO2 emission of 364gm/km. That was ridiculous as even a Formula 1 racer does not emit CO2 at this level. I had the car thoroughly checked out by the representative dealer in Faro. There was nothing wrong with the engine. I obtained from the dealership a declaration approved by the manufacturer in Germany and the manufacturer’s main representative in Lisbon showing the CO2 emissions of 194gm/km. This same model is sold in Portugal with the identical technical specs with an emission of 170gm/km. I took the car back to Loulé and this time the reading was 394gm/km.

The IMTT refused to accept both the declaration of the dealership and the fact that the identical car is sold in Portugal showing a 170gm/km emission. The  IMTT, although admitting that the formula being utilized to determine the CO2 output on cars imported from a non EU country was flawed and incorrect, insisted that we pay the tax basis the report from Loulé.

The bottom line is that we had to pay a further €31,000.

It is quite obvious that this is nothing short of out and out robbery. Also, there is something unethical in the manner in which they determine CO2 taxes on non EU cars.

We cannot sit back and simply give up on the monies paid. I would appreciate your advice as how best to proceed with this?

George Santa Clara


Editor’s note: Dear George, we asked lawyer Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge to respond to your letter. He said: “Importing a car from a country outside the European Union and legalising it in Portugal requires a lot of paperwork and costs. Besides the costs associated with the transport of the car, there are several taxes that must be paid, one of them being vehicle tax (Imposto sobre Veículos – ISV).

The ISV was introduced in Portugal under the Law n.º 22-A/2007 of June 29, and it is a charge on the impact of the vehicle on the environment as well as on road infrastructures and accidents.

In order to determine the amount of ISV to be paid, the following criteria must be considered: engine capacity (c.c.); CO2 emission levels; particle emission levels.

One of the important steps to take to get the car legalised in Portugal is the MOT, which will verify if the car accomplishes the technical requirements to circulate in our country.

The result of such inspection is very important to reach the amount of ISV due.

The above-mentioned law also states that if there is any mistake from the public authorities at the time that the ISV tax amount is determined, the taxpayer is able to be reimbursed within the terms of the Portuguese General Tax Law.

This means that there are legal proceedings to force the tax authorities to reanalyse the case and correct any eventual mistakes.

One of these proceedings is the so-called ‘revisão dos actos tributários’ (revision of the tax settlements), which is provided under article 78th of the Portuguese General Tax Law.

There are several deadlines by which to request a review of the tax settlements from the tax authorities, but for now it is important to emphasise that after the ISV amount is paid, and if your arguments concern an error attributable to the tax services, then  the situation can be reanalysed within a period of four years following the settlement.

Nevertheless, please note that this is a very general information which can only be completed after the due analysis of the documents presented to the authorities.