The Tax Authority (AT) will change the scheduling rules that allow foreigners, namely immigrants, to ask for their taxpayer number. The aim is to avoid abuses by professional tax representatives who are monopolizing these appointments.
The explanation was advanced by an official AT source to TVI (from the CNN Portugal group) following a report on the attribution of the Fiscal Identification Number (NIF) to foreigners that the Union of Tax Workers says is generating a form of chaos in finance departments.
The union reveals that there are professional tax representatives who monopolize appointments made over the internet: no vacancies via scheduling and with rare passwords to be attended on the same day, at a time when Portugal is going through one of the biggest waves of immigration in its history, thousands of foreigners are obliged to pay for a professional tax representation, with amounts that easily reach hundreds of euros.
The report highlights the fact that you are unable to work in Portugal without a NIF number – which has led to many immigrants feeling forced to paying for services.
Professional tax representatives "make a lot of appointments because they work methodically and book appointments in a series of services, creating constraints", says Gonçalo Rodrigues, vice-president of the Union of Tax Workers.
In the Cascais finance department, for example, one of the largest in the country, the vacancies open for March were booked out in a single day and all were occupied by a single entity.
Jorge Almeida, union delegate at AT, underlines that these tax representatives, often lawyers, overcome scheduling barriers and bureaucracies that immigrants, in most cases in a very precarious situation (still without a residence permit to live in Portugal), are unable to overcome .
Tax authorities promise solutions
In its response to TVI, the Tax Authority admits the problem and promises changes: "As of January 1, bookings for assigning a NIF will require identification of the foreign citizen in question, seeking to avoid making appointments that are not intended for a specific foreign citizen, thus ensuring that vacancies are effectively used for the intended purpose".
The purpose of the ongoing changes, according to the AT, is "to avoid simultaneous scheduling by the same tax representative and, in this way, to combat possible attempts to abuse the scheduling".
The problem of fiscal representatives is not, however, new. An audit by the Inspectorate-General of Finance (IGF) approved this year by the Government, but completed in 2021, had already criticized the way in which the AT supervised, since 2015, the attribution of NIF to foreigners. Most of the tax representatives analyzed, which on average represented around 5,800 foreign taxpayers, do not have incomes compatible with the high number of NIFs they represent.