New tax law has negative effect on Golden Visa applications

 In News

A law which will enable Portugal’s tax authorities to snoop bank accounts of clients with over €50,000 is having a negative knock-on effect on the country’s Golden Visa scheme.

The number of Golden Visa applications from Chinese citizens fell 11.3% in 2018 while the number of requests for the ARI (Authorisation for Residency through Investment) from Brazilians fell 16.8%.

However, the Portuguese government as a whole raked in €383 million of investment from the scheme last year, down 0.6% on the previous year according to the latest figures released by the country’s border and immigration authority SEF.

SEF issued a total of 1,409 Golden Visas in 2018, up 4.2% on 2017. Investment in December stood at €94,344,457,39, tripling the amount garnered in the same month in 2017 with 149 visas issued of which 134 were through the property investment option of the scheme.

Despite the fall off in the numbers of Chinese citizen applicants last year, Chinese nationals still lead the way with 4,073 visas granted, followed by Brazil (653), Turkey (295), South Africa (275) and Russia (243).

The Portugal ARI scheme was launched in 2012 by the then Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas and is aimed at wealthy foreigners who are willing to invest at least €500,000 or create 10 jobs. The scheme helped to kick-start Potugal’s ailing property and investment market during the height of the financial crisis from 2011 to 2015 but was plagued by accusations of corruption and led to the resignation of government Interior minister Miguel Macedo and the then head of SEF Jarmela Palos who were finally absolved of any crimes of corruption by a court this month.