Changes in personal income tax rules in Portugal have created a significant number of opportunities for law firms, according to Diogo Ortigão Ramos, partner in charge of Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira’s tax practice in Lisbon.
“The rules were not radically changed but they include a number of new instruments, such as a new way of treating trusts and lower personal tax rates,” Ortigão says. “As such, instructions from private clients and high-net worth individuals is on the increase.”
Ortigão Ramos says such private client work is coming from both local and foreign domiciles, who are increasingly seeing Portugal as an attractive destination to base their financial dealings, especially when compared to markets such as Switzerland. “We are seeing individuals and funds from South America, especially Brazil, as well as France and Italy looking to establish domicile in Portugal,” Ortigão Ramos explains.
He adds that the nature of the work is usually very sophisticated because high-net worth clients tend to use complex tax structures that often span many countries and continents. Consequently, tax work increasingly has an international dimension. “From a technical point of view, the tax work for such clients can be intricate and global in its nature,” Ramos says. “We are doing more work with our own international offices as well as our alliance partners – which comprises Chiomenti, Gleiss Lutz, and Gide – and this is leading to many interesting instructions.”
Ramos says private clients are also having a significant impact on corporate and litigation work because such clients often have investments in a diverse selection of businesses and all such transactions have major tax elements.