Sweden “disgusted” by Portugal’s tax-free pensioner ‘residency perks’

Following on from Finland, it is now Sweden’s turn to focus its irritation on the iniquities of Portugal’s non-habitual residents tax regime. Iniquities, that is, for Sweden – bearing in mind that ‘high-end’ nationals who take it up win a 10-year tax amnesty on hefty pensions.

According to Sweden’s minister of Finance Magdalena Andersson, Sweden is “disgusted” with the deal, as it means the country loses a huge chunk of tax income which it would otherwise have ploughed back into its well-oiled system. The country claims to be unable to see why Portugal too is prepared to waive taxing fleeing Swedish nationals.

Talking to the country’s newspaper Expressen, Andersson said Swedish pensioners should be opting to live in Portugal for other reasons than tax perks.

Fado, white wine and the sunshine were all offered up as ‘acceptable reasons’ for moving south.

But, Andersson said: “If they (pensioners) move just to avoid paying taxes, then I think they should look in the mirror and think about whether they really want to make this decision”.

It’s an argument that may work in Sweden, but is unlikely to cut much ice in a country for which that level of introspection is usually dispensed with within a millisecond.

Lusa reports that Andersson recently “had a serious conversation” about Sweden’s altruistic disgust with Portuguese counterpart Mário Centeno – himself in the news for having purportedly gone along with changing the law to favour non-disclosure of assets for a select group of highly-paid bankers.

Thus while Centeno may have shown “some comprehension” of Andersson’s position – in the name of the rest of her Nordic country – it is unlikely to see him implementing any instant changes.

Portugal’s non-habitual residents tax regime has been a boon for the country since it was introduced in 2009 (updated in 2013) – attracting thousands of pensioners who of course pay into the system in other ways by dint of living here for several months of the year.

The regime has been described as “Europe’s best kept secret” by international tax experts PriceWaterhouseCooper, and it has been manna from heaven for the real estate industry, as numerous pensioners have ended up buying property in Portugal.

Needless to say, Sweden could push this issue to the point that its Finnish neighbours did last year – much to the disgust of many retired Finns, who suddenly found their tax-free status revoked (click here).

Lusa has tried to seek confirmation of what Centeno means to do to accommodate Andersson’s concerns but reports that up until now it has not received an answer.

[email protected]