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Personal Income Tax (IRS): the step-by-step guide for filing your tax return in Portugal

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Are you a first-time filer of your tax return in Portugal? Are you unsure about how to report new expenses or income to the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority? This practical guide on Personal Income Tax (IRS) provides a step-by-step approach to help you navigate through the process.

When it comes to cross-checking information, most of it is already pre-filled on your tax return, which is a significant advantage. However, certain data may be incorrect or require additional details in specific attachments.

Since the deadline for filing the IRS return falls between April 1st and June 30th, 2023, it's crucial to understand the necessary steps involved in completing the process.

Step 1: Gather all the information you need to declare to the Tax Office

To ensure the accuracy of your IRS declaration, it is crucial to verify all the pre-filled information before submission. It is advisable to prepare your return well in advance.

Review not only the income in all categories but also your expenses. Double-check any pre-filled information to identify and correct potential errors.

For instance, if you rent a house, verify that the declared rent amount is accurate. If, for any reason, the rent paid in 2022 is missing from your tax return, calculate the total amount paid during that year.

If you have availed yourself of specific tax benefits, gather the relevant information and verify all the corresponding amounts.

If you are self-employed, create a list of all the entities you have provided services to, along with the total invoiced amount for each. Additionally, ensure you verify the total contributions paid to Social Security for the respective year.

Having all this information readily available will simplify the process of completing your tax return.

Step 2: Log in to the Tax Office Portal and access your IRS declaration

With the current system, the IRS declaration must be submitted electronically through the Tax Office Portal, known as "Portal das Finanças." Access to the portal can be obtained using your tax number (NIF) and password, mobile digital key, or your citizen card. To access it with your citizen card, you will need a card reader.

Once you have logged in to the Tax Office Portal, you can use the search bar to find the "IRS declaration" section. In practice, there are two options available for filing your tax return: the Automatic IRS Return and the Model 3 Return.

The simplest approach is to check if you are eligible for the Automatic IRS Return. When you select this option, an information box will appear indicating whether you qualify for the Automatic IRS. If you are not eligible, you will need to file a Model 3 declaration.

Step 3: Submitting the Automatic IRS

If you meet the eligibility criteria for the Automatic IRS, which applies to individuals earning income in IRS categories A and H (excluding gratuities not attributed by the employer or alimony payments), or those who have obtained income from services in category B under the simplified regime, as long as the activity falls within article 151.º of the CIRS (excluding "other service providers"), the entire process will be simplified.

However, if you meet the aforementioned requirements or have income taxed at a flat rate, you may be excluded from the Automatic IRS if:

  • You choose to aggregate income taxed at a flat rate.

  • You have not resided in Portugal for the entire year.

  • You have earned income abroad or held Non-Habitual Resident Status.

  • You have benefited from tax incentives, except those related to income tax deductions on PPR investments.

Once your eligibility is confirmed, if you are single or not cohabiting your tax return will be automatically filled in with all the necessary details.

It is important to carefully review all the information regarding your income and deductions. Subsequently, in the Automatic Personal Income Tax Return, you will have access to the corresponding tax assessment, which will indicate the refund amount or the amount you owe to the Tax Authorities.

If you are married or living with a partner, you will have three options available. On the portal, you will find two declarations for cases where the couple chooses separate taxation and one declaration for joint taxation. This allows you to determine the most advantageous option for your family.

If you identify any mistakes, you will need to submit the IRS Model 3 Declaration, as the Automatic IRS does not allow for corrections.

Step 4: IRS Model 3 declaration begins by filling in the cover sheet

While the Automatic IRS streamlines the process by automatically filling in much of the data, the IRS Model 3 requires you to make certain corrections or provide additional information that is not pre-filled in the declaration.

Unlike the Automatic IRS, the IRS Model 3 is more comprehensive, consisting of a cover sheet with 14 tables and 12 attachments. However, it's important to note that you only need to fill in the attachments relevant to your situation as an employee or your income.

Filling in the cover sheet is relatively straightforward. Following the order of the boxes, you should provide the following information:

  1. The code of the Tax Office corresponds to your tax residence.

  2. The year to which the declaration pertains.

  3. For an individual declaration, enter your data as taxable person A.

  4. Specify your marital status.

  5. If you want to submit a joint declaration, select this option in box 5.

  6. Provide information about your household, where box 6A is for the spouse or unmarried partner, 6B for dependents, and 6C for dependents in foster care.

  7. If applicable, provide information about ascendants, collaterals, or foster families.

  8. Specify your tax residence (if you do not reside in Portugal, indicate the country code in the table in Annex J), provide your IBAN for IRS refunds, indicate if this is your first or replacement declaration, and provide your IRS or VAT consignment.

  9. Finally, in table 12, indicate the number of annexes included in your IRS declaration. In table 13, note any special deadlines according to the CIRS. Table 14 is to be completed by the Tax Office services.

By following these steps, you can accurately complete the cover sheet of the IRS Model 3 declaration.

Step 5: What should be included in each annex of the IRS?

Here is a summary of what should be included in each annex of the IRS:

  1. Annex B: This annex is for self-employed individuals and sole proprietors. Include income from self-employment, invoices issued, expenses incurred, and other relevant information.

  2. Annex A: Include income from dependent work (category A), pensions (category H), and certain tax benefits. Provide details of taxpayers, income, withholdings, contributions, pre-retirement contracts, and payments on account.

  3. Annex C: Fill this annex if you have category B income under the organized accounting regime.

  4. Annex D: Complete this annex if you are covered by the fiscal transparency regime.

  5. Annex E: Declare capital income subject to special or flat rates. Include capital gains and losses, profits, interest, and dividends from financial products.

  6. Annex F: Report rental income if you are a landlord.

  7. Annex G: Declare capital gains, property increases, and untaxed capital gains.

  8. Annex H: This annex covers deductions to the IRS. Include invoices with a tax number, rectify amounts, add exempt income, declare partially exempt income, tax benefits associated with PPRs, and housing expenses.

  9. Annex I: Fill in this annex if you have category B income related to an inheritance that needs to be attributed to other heirs.

  10. Annex J: Complete this annex if you have income earned abroad, such as a retirement pension from a foreign country.

  11. Annex L: Fill this annex if you benefit from non-habitual resident status or need to eliminate international double taxation.

  12. Annex SS: This annex is for self-employed workers to determine economic dependency on an entity and for claiming the subsidy for termination of activity. Identify entities, income associated with each, and other relevant details.

Please note that you should only complete the annexes that apply to your specific situation.

Step 6: Review your declaration and simulate it before submitting it

Once you have filled out your tax return, it is important to review it carefully for any mistakes or errors. Validate the information to ensure its accuracy and check if there are any issues preventing you from submitting the declaration.

Before submitting, it is recommended to perform one or more simulations, depending on whether you are filing an individual or joint tax return. This will give you an estimate of the IRS refund or the amount you need to pay to the Tax Authorities. After identifying the most advantageous option and ensuring everything is correct, you can proceed to submit your tax return.

Keep in mind that certain professional activities or specific circumstances may make the completion of the declaration more complex. If you have any doubts, it is advisable to seek clarification from the tax authorities or consult a certified accountant. INLIS Consulting, a certified accounting firm in Lisbon, can provide expert guidance and assistance with your tax return.

Additionally, it is important not to wait until the last day (June 30th) to submit your declaration. The earlier you submit, the sooner you can expect to receive your refund.

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