I am posting to ask for advice, help, knowledge or expertise.
I lived in Lagos as a traveler between 2016 and 2017. During this time I owned a car and used the A22 toll road many times. Being young and ignorant, I didn't realize it was an electronic toll road that needed to be paid for. Whilst living in Portugal I never received any letters or notifications saying that I owed money. Four year later, in December 2020, my Portuguese friend, who signed on as my Tax representative so that I could attain a Fiscal Number (NIF), started receiving letters at his address directed at me, detailing fines to the value of 1600 euros. As I used the toll roads many times, and have accumulated fines on all of them, and then with the four years of non-payment/administration charges, they have grown from being very small, to this enormous number.
I no longer live in Portugal and have no intention of returning, however as my Portuguese friend is now receiving these letters because he is noted as my tax representative, I don't want him to get in any trouble and need to sort it out. Here are my questions to anyone who knows how the Portuguese tax law works.
1. Is this at best, a bit legally dodgy? Why didn't I receive any letters whilst living in Portugal, when the amounts were small enough to pay them and why did he only begin receiving the letters 4 years later, when the fines were already extortionate?
2. Is he, as my tax representative, actually legally bound to this at all? I know it looks that way as he is receiving the letters, but in reality, how solid is this system and if I refused to pay, would he be made to pay or can they not actually legally force him to do anything?
3. Surely there are thousands of unpaid tolls every year from travelers and most of them never get paid, the only reason I'm finding out about this is because I happen to have a tax number. Are there many many unpaid tolls and they try and scaremonger who they can into paying but in reality they only enforce it for those who bother responding?
4. Are there any legal aids for British or Australian citizens that aren't insanely expensive where I can talk to a lawyer or someone who knows about Portuguese law to ask these questions and get help. I tried contacting the British embassy but they were no help, they shrugged me off and said get a lawyer.
5. Has anyone had this experience? Does anyone has tax debt in Portugal from something trivial like this and has never paid it? Have there been any repercussions?
I'm feeling very lost and helpless at this point as I can't find any help and am on the other side of the world, I don't speak Portuguese and I'm completely unaware of how the tax system or law works over there. Any help is greatly appreciated.