Brussels, 18 September 2008
Direct Taxation: The Commission requests Portugal to amend its discriminatory taxation of lottery winnings
The European Commission has sent Portugal a formal request to amend its discriminatory rules that provide for the taxation of foreign lottery winnings whereas winnings from lotteries (Euromilhões e Liga dos Milhões) organised in Portugal by Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa are exempt from income tax. The Commission considers these rules to be contrary to the EC Treaty and the EEA Agreement, as they restrict the freedom to provide services. This request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the Treaty. If Portugal does not amend its law within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice.
According to the Portuguese rules, income earned in Portugal in the form of prizes or winnings from competitions, games or gambling is subject to taxation. However, an exemption applies to lottery winnings from Euromilhões e Liga dos Milhões, lotteries and games organised by the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, an entity carrying out activities of social interest.
The Commission considers that the exemption provided in the Portuguese legislation constitutes a discrimination prohibited by the EC Treaty, as the favourable treatment is not open to other EU entities also carrying activities of social interest as Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa does.
Taxing the winnings from foreign but not national lotteries cannot possibly be justified as a measure to avoid the damaging consequences of gambling.
The Commission's cases reference number is 2007/2138.
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