Obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa By Investing In a Portuguese Venture Capital Fund

Why a Portuguese Golden Visa?

The Portuguese Golden Visa scheme enables non-EU individuals to obtain the right to reside in Portugal for up to five years. This allows them and their family to travel freely to and from the majority of European countries.

A Portuguese Golden Visa can lead to permanent residence and/or Portuguese citizenship and the right to a EU passport at the end of the fifth year of being classified as resident in Portugal.

To qualify for a Golden Visa, an individual must meet and maintain one of a number of qualifying investment options, as specified by the Portuguese Government. One of the investment routes is the acquisition of real estate with a value of at least €500,000.

This has proved popular for a variety of applicants. House prices in Portugal rose 3.3% in the first three months of 2019, compared to the last quarter of 2018; settling at €1.849 per square metre. This is an increase of 17% year-on-year. However, it might be prudent to consider alternative investment options as well.

A Portuguese Venture Capital Fund

Applicants might find it preferable to invest in a Portuguese Venture Capital Fund rather than in real estate. This could provide a more economically stable alternative option to obtain residency and the ability to work in Portugal, if desired.

The advantages of investing in a Venture Capital Fund:

  • It provides a lower investment option in terms of the amount required
  • It could offer the advantage of a higher return on the investment
  • No stamp duty tax
  • No transfer tax

The specific criteria for investing in a Venture Capital Fund is:

  • A minimum investment of €350,000 in Investment Funds or Venture Capital The fund must provide capital to companies, with at least 60% of the investment being made in a commercial company with a head office in Portugal.

Portugal Tax Benefits

There are a number of tax benefits associated with investing in a Venture Capital Fund. These include:

  • Exemption from corporate income tax.
  • Exemption from withholding tax on payment of the capital generated by the fund if the investor is a non-tax resident in Portugal.
  • Withholding tax of 10%, on payment of the capital generated by the fund if the investor is tax resident in Portugal.
  • 10% tax on capital gains arising from the sale of company shares or the sale of commercial property.

A Number of Individuals Forming their Own Venture Capital Fund

Dixcart has also assisted several individuals to form their own Portuguese Venture Capital Fund. This provides an opportunity for more substancial amounts of money to be raised to undertake various local projects in Portugal. These projects generally include investment in commercial real estate.

Additional Information

If you require additional information regarding the Portuguese Golden Visa or investing in a Venture Capital Fund, please contact Catarina Sardinha in the Portugal office: advice.portugal@dixcart.com. Alternatively, please speak to your usual Dixcart contact.

Tax Reform Package for Swiss Companies is Approved

Historically, Swiss companies have enjoyed a zero tax regime for capital gains and dividend income.

Trading companies, however,  have always attracted a local canton (region) tax rate. The new tax changes focus on trading profits.

New Corporate Tax Rate – Geneva

As from January 2020, the corporate tax rate (combined federal and cantonal tax) for all companies in Geneva, will be 13.99%.

The Swiss federal tax rate is consistent but corporate tax rates (federal tax, plus cantonal tax) will vary across different Swiss cantons, depending on the specific cantonal tax rates approved in the referendums, which took place in May 2019.

Background

The European Union (EU) gave Switzerland until the end of 2018 to abolish a number of tax privileges that are not internationally acceptable. The main objective of the reforms is to achieve this while retaining the international attractiveness of the Swiss Corporate Tax Regime

On 28 September 2018, the final draft of the ‘Federal Act on Tax Reform Financing’ (“TRAF”) was approved by the Swiss Parliament.

Results of the Referendum

The referendum on TRAF took place on 19 May 2019, and the new Law is to be implemented on 1 January 2020.

A large majority of Swiss voters accepted the 2020 Swiss federal tax reforms and a large majority of Geneva voters also accepted the Geneva cantonal tax reforms (each canton had its own vote on its specific cantonal tax reforms).

Summary of Principles

At the federal level, the profit allocation rules of principal companies and Swiss finance branches are to be repealed.

At the cantonal level, tax privileges for holding companies, domicile companies and mixed companies will be abolished.

Patent Box

Net profit from domestic and foreign patents are to be taxed separately with a maximum reduction of 90% (precise rate subject to cantonal discretion). This Patent Box Regime meets the OECD2 standard and the 90% maximum relief is mandatory at the cantonal level.

Before the Patent Box is applied for the first time, the corresponding tax deducted R&D expenditures must be recaptured and taxed.

R&D Super Deduction

An R&D super deduction of 50% for domestic R&D is optional, at the cantonal level.

Additional Measures

  • Overall tax relief of 70% is mandatory at the cantonal level; the patent box, R&D super deduction and a notional interest deduction (NID), in addition to possible depreciations from an early transition from ‘privileged’ to ‘ordinary’ taxation, are subject to an overall tax relief of 70%.
  • Extension of the flat-rate tax credits on the permanent establishments of foreign companies; Swiss permanent establishments of foreign companies will, in most circumstances, be able to claim withholding tax on income from third countries, with a flat-rate tax credit.
  • So called ‘high’ tax cantons have the option to introduce a notional interest rate deduction (NID) on excess capital. It is anticipated currently that only the canton of Zurich will meet the specified requirements.
  • Adjustments are being made to the taxation of dividend income from qualifying participations. At the federal level, the tax rate increases to a standard rate of 70% (previously 50% for business investments and 60% for private investments). At a cantonal level there is a harmonisation of the relief method and a minimum tax rate of 50% (precise rate at cantonal discretion).
  • Swiss-listed companies may only pay tax-free capital contribution reserves if they pay taxable dividends equal to the same amount.

Summary

Cantons are expected to receive an increased share of federal tax: 21.2% (previously 17%).

  • This will enable the majority of Swiss cantons to provide attractive corporate tax rate of between 12% and 18% (combined federal and cantonal tax).

Additional Information

If you would like additional information regarding the changes to the Swiss Corporate Tax Regime, please contact Christine Breitler at the Dixcart office in Switzerland: advice.switzerland@dixcart.com. Alternatively please speak to your usual Dixcart contact.

Malta

Malta Fintech Version 2021 and Development in the Approach Towards Artificial Intelligence

Background

Malta has established itself as an innovative island.

Practical, workable regulations have been successfully introduced for gaming and blockchain/crypto businesses and Malta is now preparing for the next generation of development within the financial service sector. New initiatives include Malta ‘FinTech Vision 2021’ and the ‘Artificial Intelligence Project’.

FinTech Vision 2021

The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has launched its strategic vision and values for the next three years.

MFSA is currently assessing viable solutions to nurture innovation and to facilitate access to FinTech.

Ongoing assessments include:

  • Regulatory sandbox – an environment in which businesses can test innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms, without immediately having to be governed by the compliance regulations for that specific type of business. Several international financial service regulators have adopted this strategy to scrutinise innovator proposals, on a case by case basis, against a set of eligibility criteria.
  • Innovation Hub – the ‘Innovation Hub’ was set-up to support and provide guidance to innovative firms, in particular regarding the understanding and interpretation of applicable regulations. This guidance can be supplied by email/written correspondence, as well as via face-to-face meetings, between the relevant, innovative firm and Malta MFSA personnel.
  • Innovation partnerships – an innovation partnership, or innovation accelerator, is a partnership arrangement between innovators, incumbent firms and/or public sector authorities, to accelerate the growth or development of a particular new initiative.
  • New MFSA website – as part of FinTech Vision 2021, the MFSA has replaced its website with one that is more user centric.
  • Interactive rulebooks – interactive rulebooks form an integral part of the new website. These interactive rulebooks provide the industry with a ‘state of the art’ online platform, facilitating access to the Maltese regulatory framework and helping to ensure that the regulations are consistently implemented.
  • Use and application of supervisory technology – the MFSA is implementing technically sophisticated supervisory technology. This technology, commonly termed ‘SupTech’, will enable the MFSA to automate certain processes and will make the supervision of licence holders more efficient.
  • MFSA ‘Licence Holder Portal’ – the ‘Licence Holder Portal’ is currently being upgraded, to meet changing and additional business demands, and new European Union obligations. This Portal will shortly be renamed the ‘FinHub Portal’.
  • Cyber-security – the MFSA will be issuing guidelines on cybersecurity for regulated entities, with the aim of enhancing licence holders’ cyber-resilience, particularly for those firms reliant on technology. The proposed guidelines will set out the Authority’s minimum expectations as to how entities should be addressing cyber-risk, and the necessary safeguards they should have in place. The guidelines will also provide assessment methodology that will be used to determine compliance in this key area.

Artificial Intelligence

Malta is developing a national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy as part of an initiative to become one of the leading nations in this category.

The Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, Silvio Schembri, has stated: “With this strategy Malta is set to gain a strategic commercial advantage in the global economy sphere, generating investment and positioning itself as a leader in the AI field. The Maltese Government aspires to be a country that can help companies that invest in and serve Malta, not only to establish their business, but to commercialise and scale up using public policy.”

Malta is developing a coherent strategy to attract foreign AI companies to establish themselves in Malta.

Silvio Schembri explained that the Malta AI Taskforce has identified three ‘Strategic Pillars’:

  • Investment, start-ups and innovation;
  • Public sector adoption;
  • Private sector adoption.

These ‘Pillars’ will be supported by three ‘Enablers’:

  • Education and workforce;
  • Legal and ethical framework;
  • Ecosystem infrastructure.

Conclusion and Additional Information

Malta is positioning itself as a dynamic jurisdiction, across a number of new high-tech sectors. It is vital that the regulatory framework is appropriate and robust and Malta is developing, not only a coordinated compliance strategy, but is also identifying the Government support needed to optimise growth opportunities.

If you would like further information on this subject, please contact the Dixcart office in Malta: advice.malta@dixcart.com or your usual Dixcart contact.