By DENNIS SWING GREENE
Portuguese fiscal numbers — What you don’t know can hurt you
Incorrect identity information problems can be more than just an inconvenience or hassle. They can create liabilities that are both serious as well as expensive. Just because you are unaware of the problem does not mean that you won’t be held accountable.
If you are non-resident, but receive your rates bill (IMI) at your home address (rather than via a fiscal representative), it is more than likely that you are recorded as resident. It is not uncommon in the application process for the person applying for your fiscal number to tick the resident box, thereby sidestepping the responsibilities entailed in acting as a foreigner’s fiscal representative.
The potential downside for you is that Finanças will expect annual tax declarations on your worldwide income. Since, by definition, non-residents are based in another jurisdiction, this alleged dual tax residency status could prove to be an expensive nightmare. Appointing a proper fiscal representative, as required by law, should prevent an otherwise avoidable assessment.
While not required specifically in the application, another piece of common identity information that can change quickly is marital status. This condition can have an immediate bearing on your tax position, most notably in your annual income tax declaration. With the application of the marital coefficient, couples, whether married or just cohabiting, inevitably pay less income tax than two single individuals.
Conversely, if you are separated, divorced or have recently lost your spouse, change is in order. Documents with mismatched information can lead to needless expense and delay in any dealings with officialdom.
Keeping your registered information current with Finanças is not only wise, but also clearly in your best interest. Your tax advisor or qualified fiscal representative should be able to confirm your status and nip a problem in the bud. In fact, this is just one of many ways that competent professional service can prove to be a real money saver in the long run. Assuring the accuracy of your data confirms the adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”