Yes, Portugal does have retirement programs or benefits. If you are a senior in Portugal, typically over 65 years old, you are already entitled to many benefits, such as the exemption on certain medical or hospital costs or a huge reduction on co-payments. You will also get a huge reduction on gas and on public transports. Generally, if you are a senior, you get many discounts and benefits.
The most important program to mention, which is similar to the Pensionado Program in Central America, is the Non-Habitual Residency. A Non-Habitual Resident is a status that is granted to new residents in Portugal. It doesn’t only apply to pensioners but it is particularly good for pensioners because it exempts most pensioners or new residents in Portugal from paying income tax on their pension for a period of 10 years. If you bring your international pension into Portugal and get it paid here, then you will be exempt from paying taxes on it here. Being a Non-Habitual Resident also allows you to be exempt from a number of other sources of income such as interest and sometimes dividends, but you would need to take advice from an attorney to do that. The Non-Habitual Resident is one of the most popular programs today.
Generally, if you work for the public sector then you would always pay taxes on your pension but if you have a private pension and that pension gets paid to you on a regular basis, then you are able to be exempt from taxes on your pension using a mechanism such as QROPS (Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme), which is a method that the HMRC (or her majesty’s government) allows British citizens to use to formally take their pensions and get it paid abroad. So your pension would be paid abroad, in Portugal, and that will be tax free. You will pay no tax in the UK, and you will pay no tax in Portugal.
I would recommend that you take advice from a tax adviser because each situation is different. But the Non-Habitual Residency Program applies to any country relative to a double tax treaty that allows the citizen of the country of origin to be taxed in the country of residence. Portugal is one of the countries with the most double tax treaties, with about 160 of them. In Europe, the double tax treaty applies to pretty much every country except the Netherlands because the Netherlands kept a double tax treaty and the Dutch government is authorized to tax its citizens living abroad.
The US qualifies for the Non-Habitual Residency Program but of course the US is a little more complex for the simple reason that Americans are taxed on their worldwide income. The Non-Habitual Residency Program applies to US citizens but it is not so straightforward to lose one’s tax residency in gain it in another country. There may be a slightly more complex situation in that sense in terms of dual nationality, residency, and so on. US citizens need to take advice from a tax adviser if they want to apply for the Non-Habitual Residency Program.
(Festa de Sao Joao, the feast of Saint John, Porto, Portugal, pictured.)