Expat secret bank accounts being investigated by Portuguese taxman

Published:  8 Nov at 6 PM
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The Portuguese taxman is investigating overseas accounts held by foreign national residents as well as non-residents and accounts held by Portuguese nationals.

Recent reports in local media revealed Portugal’s tax authority is investigating a million so-called ‘secret accounts’ held offshore by both foreign residents and non-residents as well as by Portuguese nationals. It’s claimed the accounts surfaced after an information-sharing move including 50 countries worldwide was put into place. Apparently, the owners of some 71 per cent of all such accounts have been identified, with the remainder still under investigation, but those contacted have regularised their affairs and are now paying tax.

According to one newspaper report, those who’ve been contacted were all high-earners who’d simply forgotten to declare their overseas income or who’d erroneously reported a smaller income than they’d actually received. Secrecy, however, would seem to have been maintained as to the identities of such account holders as well as the actual amounts they’d either mis-remembered or forgotten to declare. The jurisdictions where the amounts were held have also been withheld from the public gaze.

Apparently, the authorities have the hard work of cross-referencing documents supplied by offshore and onshore banks with the names, addresses and dates of birth of suspected offenders in order to come up with verified amounts. Specialist software was developed for the task, with incompatibilities dating from 2016/2017 now under way. The exchange of information software also identifies details of monies held by non-resident expats with possible tax liabilities in the country, with the specially-designed mechanism an innovative game-changer as regards tax evasion since its introduction some three years ago.

The majority of bank accounts scrutinised to date are in Switzerland and France, with others in the Caymans, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Hong Kong, with non-resident accounts totalling over 400,000 and resident-held accounts at over 732,000. Tax recovered during the initiative to date totals a stunning 85 million euros.
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