Tax Reactions to the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Pandemic in Portugal

Authors: João Félix Pinto Nogueira


This study is focused on the tax measures that have been enacted in Portugal, following the health and economic crisis created by the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic. First, it aims at comprehen- sively characterizing the measures enacted, structuring them by thematic clusters, enabling the reader to understand the concrete impact of the significant array of legislation and administrative guidance does not allow. Second, it aims to critically assess the measures adopted and uncover the rationale behind their adoption. The study allowed us to conclude that the tax system was not the priority weapon used by the government to react to the pandemic. Nevertheless, many measures have been enacted, most of them with a non-substantial nature and related to the postponement of deadlines for the submission of tax returns or for payments of taxes due. A careful review of the measures revealed that some areas could have been better dealt with, in order to increase legal certainty of the addresses of the measures. Moreover, the connection between some measures and the pandemic is not completely clear, which raises suspicion on the real reasons behind the adop- tion of the rules. The same careful review has shown that many governmental actions correspond to best practices that should not only be praised but also be considered as examples to be followed by other countries. This is namely the case of the care in providing correct, easy-to-follow gui- dance to taxpayers on the impact of the measures that have been adopted. All in all, these surgical tax measures adopted seem to be able to avoid further commercial and financial disruptions in the economy, avoiding situations of bankruptcy or avoidable hardships for taxpayers which would have only added more disruption to the one that the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 inevitably introduced.

Keywords: Tax measures, Pandemic, Portugal