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Exchange of Information – CRS

By Chris Webb - Topics: Exchange of Information, spain
This article is published on: 30th August 2018

30.08.18

It surprises me that today I am still meeting with people who are blissfully unaware of the global exchange of information, or common reporting standards, that started back in January 2016, with the first actual exchange of information taking place in 2017.

Why am I surprised? Well, for starters, I meet with and hear of people who still attempt to keep their assets under the radar of the relevant tax office, in the belief that if they haven’t declared it or aren’t actively using the asset it won’t appear on any tax or government system.

In Spain, this immediately brings the Modelo 720 reporting requirement to mind, but that’s another topic, which I have already written an article on and which can be found on our website. The CRS is bringing AUTOMATIC exchange of information to the table…

Ultimately, this means that it is now more important than ever to make sure you have reported and are declaring income and assets in the right country.

From January 2016, financial institutions in around 50 countries began collecting information on their clients and their accounts. The purpose of collecting the data in 2016 was to share it with the client’s country of residence in 2017, which was the start date for the actual sharing.

This is not a one-off thing; the exchange of information will be repeated every year, and every year more and more countries are joining the group. According to the Gov.UK website another 53 countries started collecting the information in 2017 to report it in 2018, and in 2018 another 4 countries will begin the process and fulfil reporting to the relevant authorities in 2019.

Looking at the list here: www.gov.uk/guidance/automatic-exchange-of-information-introduction you will see that most countries of any relevance to the majority of us are listed. Refer to the note relating to the US as the US exchanges information globally under its FATCA initiative – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

In fact, I only know of one person who could possibly be in the section where no agreement is in place… yet.

It is important to note that this is a regulatory procedure and there are no choices. It is carried out under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Quite simply, this means that there is nowhere to hide anymore; this loss of financial privacy affects us all. If you live in one country and have assets in another, your information WILL be shared between countries. Your local tax authority will automatically receive information on the financial assets you own overseas.

One potential client fully believes that this will only happen if your tax affairs are being investigated or if the tax office is querying a specific asset. This is not true, they do not have to request the information because they will receive it automatically.

As an example, if you are a tax resident in Spain and have bank accounts in the UK and investment portfolios in the Isle of Man, the Hacienda will automatically receive the information on these accounts / portfolios from the tax authorities in the countries where the assets sit.

You will probably have noticed that your banks or financial institutions, from outside your country of residence, have been sending you forms to complete to confirm your tax residency. This is a legal requirement on their part. Even not returning these forms doesn’t help you as they will simply assume you are still a resident of the country that you last registered with them, therefore will still report to that tax authority.

The information they will be sharing about your financial assets includes personal data such as your name and address, country of tax residence and tax identification number. They will also be reporting information relating to your accounts such as account balances, investment income, interest earned, dividend payments, income from certain insurance policies and any proceeds from the sale of assets.

As you will have seen above, this sharing / reporting requirement is now firmly in place. In September 2017 the first jurisdictions exchanged their data. Importantly for my clients this list of Jurisdictions includes the UK, Spain and most other EU countries. It also includes the Isle of Man, Jersey and the Cayman Islands which were, historically, places people looked at when placing their financial assets.

Hopefully you can see the importance of understanding exchange of information, or CRS. Think about the complications that could arise… When the local tax office receives information about your assets or income abroad, they will automatically be able to cross reference whether you have accurately reported total global income on your tax return.

For residents of Spain it has taken the Modelo 720 reporting requirement to another level. The Hacienda will now be able to compare the data they are given with your Modelo 720 declaration. In my opinion, it makes the Modelo 720 redundant, BUT it is still a legal obligation to file it!

Tax residents of Spain are liable to pay Spanish tax on their worldwide income, gains and wealth. This includes most income which is also taxed elsewhere, although double taxation agreements mean you aren’t taxed twice. It is still a common misconception that if you have income taxable in the UK then it doesn’t need to be declared in Spain. I can’t reiterate enough how wrong this is. Even if you have made a tax declaration in another country you still need to make the declaration in Spain.

If you haven’t been doing this, I strongly recommend that you regularise your tax affairs as soon as possible. This would also be the right time to look at all your financial affairs.

Most people I meet have several bank accounts and sometimes several investment portfolios and products. When asked they don’t really know why they are set up the way they are, it has just been that way for years. Streamlining your financial affairs can ease the administrative burden now and certainly later in life.

Living in Spain makes it even more important to review your financial assets. What may be “tax free” in the UK is not necessarily “tax free” in Spain.
Are your financial assets approved here in Spain? You probably wouldn’t know unless the differences had been explained to you.

In Spain we have what are deemed compliant products. If you have a compliant bond you will find it is EU based; if you discover your financial solution is based in The Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey it is deemed non-compliant. This isn’t meant to be confusing; they are not illegal, but they must be reported to Hacienda and please note that they are taxed differently to a Spanish compliant bond.

The Spectrum IFA Group will only ever recommend a solution that is compliant and tax efficient in your country of residence. In Spain we will not recommend solutions outside of the “approved area”. This is for your benefit!
For a free, no obligation review of you financial assets please get in touch at chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com or 639118185. If you are in the Madrid region I will personally meet with you, if you live in any other part of Spain OR Europe let me know and I can put you in touch with our local office there.

To declare or not to declare?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: common reporting standards, Exchange of Information, Italy, Residency
This article is published on: 20th September 2017

20.09.17

That was the question of the summer 2017!

During the long hot summer of 2017 I had a number of people calling me for advice on when and which assets to declare which to date had not been declared in Italy. A troubling question indeed.

A number of people who have been living in Italy for many years had recently received letters from their banks, mainly in the UK. This letter had been asking the individuals to inform them of their TIN number: tax Identification Number (codice fiscale or National Insurance to you and I). The main question was why would they need this and what would the consequences be of not providing it.

THE COMMON REPORTING STANDARD
If you are one of those people who read my E-zines, you will know that I have written about this subject over the last few years on numerous occasions, but its worth going over the detail again now, since an automatic sharing of financial information across borders (of which the UK/USA/Italy and most developed countries are party to) will take place before the end of September 2017, if it has not happened already. The information they will receive will be backdated to 1st January 2016.

WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE?
In short, the idea behind the CPS was modelled on a similar idea which the USA put into force before it. That was FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and was designed to circumnavigate the individual to whom any tax liability may be incurred and for the banks and financial institutions with which we hold out money/assets etc, to declare these holdings directly to the relevant tax authorities.

So it no longer became the responsibility of the individual to report their money ‘correctly and honestly’. Now, this information would be reported directly.

The rest of the world has now pretty much followed suit (except notable offshore jurisdictions which are also coming under Governmental pressure to fall in line) and hence the need to get clarification on your country of tax residence and your TIN (Tax Identification Number).

WHAT INFORMATION WILL THEY SHARE ABOUT ME?
Under the Common Reporting Standard the financial information to be reported includes the name, address and tax identification number (where applicable) of the asset owner; the balance/value, interest and dividend payments and gross proceeds from the sale of financial assets.

The financial institutions that need to report include banks, custodian financial institutions, investment entities such as investment funds, certain insurance companies, trusts and foundations.

The tax authority will receive much more information than ever before. Even information it does not need. For example, there is no wealth tax in countries like the UK, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, but the tax authorities will still receive bank account balances. If this raises any red flags they may investigate where the money came from in the first place.

IS THIS NEW?
Exchange of financial information across Europe has been going on for a long time now and can be traced back to the introduction of the European Savings Tax Directive 2005. The Common Reporting Standard is an enhancement of this.

I explain the Common Reporting Standard as follows:

Imagine a normal spreadsheet in which all tax authorities have been entering information regarding us for years. The Italian, Spanish, French and British authorities all created their own spreadsheets with their own column headings and rows. When this was exchanged with another tax authority it would first have to be interpreted before the information could be used. The CRS went one step further. In effect, all countries are now using the same spreadsheet with the same column headings and rows and the data is much easier to interpret. With the help of computers they can identify discrepancies very easily. (This is clearly a simple explanation, but helps understand the concept)

I remember well in 2012 when I was contacted by a number of UK rental property owners who had been legitimately declaring their UK property income in the UK for tax purposes. However, as residents in Italy they had not declared anything. A clear exchange of information took place and the Guardia di Finanza did a significant number of visits to these people to fine them.

SHOULD I TELL THEM?
A logical question would be, what if I don’t tell the bank or financial institution of my TIN?

The banks would refer to the country in which they have the most information about you. It logically concludes that if you have a UK address on a UK bank account, but live in Italy, and have received a letter to confirm your TIN then the bank already suspects that your tax residency has not been correctly declared. It would be up to you to prove otherwise were you subject to an investigation.

What would happen if I gave my TIN in my country of origin?
If, for example, you gave your National Insurance number in the UK, but were living in Italy, then the UK authorities would consider you a UK tax resident and tax you there. That may be your preference, but should any institution or Government suspect that this is being declared falsely then the consequences could be severe. The logical conclusion here is that if you are making payments in Italy on a regular basis and/or sending money to an Italian bank account then this information would be red flagged.

So what should you do if you are NOT ‘in regola’ yet?
From the people that I spoke with this summer, it seemed that a number were afraid of giving this information because it would highlight any money/assets which have not been declared correctly to date. The sad news is that you are probably too late. They know already, hence why you received the letter.

My advice is always the same. The past cannot be corrected but you can change your future. Hiding and hoping the problem will go away is no longer an option. The only solution is to get your financial situation ‘in regola’.

WHAT WILL I PAY?
How you declare your money and how much you will pay is another question and one that can only be calculated by a commercialista, but it does make sense to have a look at your whole financial situation and see what damage limitation you can do by planning efficiently as a tax resident in Italy. That is my specialty and I always recommend you contact me before going directly to the commercialista because there may be ways to mitigate any tax burden before you make that first tax declaration. Once the first tax declaration is in, any subsequent changes can be difficult and costly to rectify.

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”

Residents in Italy with Swiss bank accounts

By Daniel Shillito - Topics: Automatic Exchange of Information, Banking, Exchange of Information, International Bank Accounts, Italy, Offshore Disclosures Facility
This article is published on: 2nd August 2017

02.08.17

These clients deposited a total of 6.7 billion euros in the country, according to an article from Reuters newswires.

The police said in a statement this action concerns Italian residents holding 9,953 financial positions in Switzerland.

The police declined to provide many details, however this move follows an investigation that last year led to a tax settlement deal between Italy and Credit Suisse AG, whereupon the Swiss bank agreed to pay a settlement amount of 109.5 million euros.

That tax investigation was started in 2015 over an alleged fraudulent system used by the bank to transfer money offshore.

“Credit Suisse considers the investigation by the Italian authorities into Credit Suisse’s cross-border business as closed,” the bank told Reuters in an emailed statement. “The court approval marked the end of the investigation by Italian authorities into Credit Suisse AG’s Italian cross-border business for the period from 2008 to 2015,” the statement added.

Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration declined to comment, pointing to a confidentiality clause that applies to mutual requests for assistance on tax matters.

Voluntary Disclosure
The authorities also advised that through the Voluntary Disclosure scheme 3,297 people had already been identified holding undeclared savings and investments abroad and had received immunity from prosecution upon declaration under the scheme.

If you have any queries about declaring offshore savings and investments or the Voluntary Disclosure scheme in Italy please contact the author.

Common Reporting Standards

By Derek Winsland - Topics: common reporting standards, Exchange of Information, France, International Bank Accounts, Le Tour de Finance, Residency
This article is published on: 27th July 2017

27.07.17

Over the last few weeks, I’ve witnessed the application of the Common Reporting Standards initiative in action. Firstly, from my bank HSBC requesting information to be transmitted to the tax authorities both here in France as well as in UK. This week, I received an email from a client who has also received a letter again from HSBC enquiring about his residency.

It’s clear that the sharing of financial information between tax authorities of different countries is now in full swing. Annual reporting by every financial institution into its own tax authority was introduced in January 2016 and I’m seeing more and more examples of this in operation. For the tax authorities, residency is the main focus – where has the individual declared residency, and where are that person’s assets held.

We’re at the stage now where that information is being studied by local tax offices and enquiry letters being sent. But what information is being shared? Overseas bank accounts are the most common example, hence HSBC and others enquiring about an account holder’s residency status. Other examples include investment bonds held overseas, ISA accounts, unit trust and investment trust portfolios, share accounts, premium bonds…. the list goes on.

With investments held outside of an insurance-based investment bond, any change of fund either through switching or closure could be liable to capital gains in the hands of the investor, so your local tax office is sure to be interested in learning about this. Income drawn from certain, non-EU jurisdiction investment bonds are viewed very differently here in France. And remember, ISAs carry no tax advantages here, so any switches, partial encashments, or sales of funds made by a UK financial adviser or investment manager could have repercussions for the investor resident in France.

If you’re tax resident in France, you are obliged to list all overseas investments and accounts on your annual tax declaration; non-disclosure can result in fines ranging from €1,500 per account up to €10,000 depending on where the account is held. These fines are also per year of non-disclosure.

Quite often we see situations where doing nothing has proved to be an expensive mistake so if ever there was a time to get your financial affairs in order, it is now before the Fisc comes calling. If you’re resident in France, your local tax office can look back through previous years as well, so long forgotten ISAs cashed in can potentially appear on its radar.

If you would like information on how best to re-organise your investments to make them tax-compliant, we are staging the latest in our series of popular Tour de Finance events in the Limoux area on Friday 6th October. Open to everyone, the event, held at Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles is now in its ninth year. Always a popular event, you are urged to order tickets well in advance. There will be a series of short presentations during the morning, culminating with lunch and an opportunity to sample the local wines. If you would like to attend, please email me for your tickets, numbers are limited, so I urge you not to delay.

Subjects covered during the morning include:
Brexit
Financial Markets
Assurance Vie
Pensions/QROPS
French Tax Issues
Currency Exchange

If you have personal or financial circumstances that you feel may benefit from a financial planning review, please contact me direct on the number below. You can also contact me by email at derek.winsland@spectrum-ifa.com or call our office in Limoux to make an appointment. Alternatively, I conduct a drop-in clinic most Fridays (holidays excepting), when you can pop in to speak to me. Our office telephone number is 04 68 31 14 10.

Under the radar?

By Derek Winsland - Topics: Exchange of Information, France, Offshore Disclosures Facility, Residency
This article is published on: 24th May 2017

24.05.17

The question of residency features highly in requests I receive from prospective new clients looking for advice generally. These requests generally come from people who are looking to move permanently to France. I also receive requests from people who have lived in France for some time, either on a part-time basis (before returning to the UK or elsewhere for the remainder of the year), or on a full-time basis, living ‘under the radar’, so to speak.

In French tax law, the definition of domicile fiscal can fall under personal, professional and economic conditions. To be considered resident in France for tax purposes, any ONE of the following conditions must be met:

1. Your main home is in France
2. You work in France, either on an employed or self-employed basis
3. Your centre of economic interest is in France. This can include your investments, or business interests are here

In addition, there is the commonly known means-test of 183 days in the year, which many people use as the chief determinant; like most things in France it’s not as simple as that. If you spend less than 6 months in France, but spend even less time in another country, then you can still be considered resident in France. Take the retired couple who spend their time between UK, France and Spain. If they lived in UK for 4 months, Spain 3 months and France for 5 months, they will be deemed to be resident in France because it is France where they have spent the most time during the year.

There are, of course, many different scenarios that determine residency, for instance the couple whose business is centred exclusively in UK, but live in rented property in France. All activity is in UK, yet because the couple switch on the home computer to check the company bank balance, this is construed as operating a business in France, thus definition 3 applies.

There are always grey areas, where tax residency can be in more than one country; in these cases, one hopes that a Double Taxation Treaty is in existence that would apply to ensure the person isn’t taxed twice.

What does concern me, though, are those people who have lived in France for a number of years, but not declared themselves resident. Common Reporting Standards were introduced in January 2016, whereby tax authorities from over 100 countries now share financial data between the host country and the country where the individual lives. Assuming that the individual declared him or herself non-UK resident on the grounds of moving to live in France, then any financial information (bank accounts, investments etc) will now be shared with the French tax authorities. Depending on that individual’s circumstances, they may suddenly appear on the fisc’s radar, who might just start to take an interest in them. Non-disclosure of financial information is becoming a big deal, so it is more important than ever that residency is determined and if that is in France, affairs are put in order to address any tax implications for savings and investments.

If you have personal or financial circumstances that you feel may benefit from a financial planning review, please contact me direct on the number below. You can also contact me by email at derek.winsland@spectrum-ifa.com or call our office in Limoux to make an appointment. Alternatively, I conduct a drop-in clinic most Fridays (holidays excepting), when you can pop in to speak to me. Our office telephone number is 04 68 31 14 10.

Taxation of UK rental income in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Exchange of Information, Income Tax, Italy, Property, Tax, taxation of rental property, UK property
This article is published on: 19th March 2017

19.03.17

Since the recent exchange of information between HMRC and the Italian tax authorities on UK rental property owners, I have been asked the question whether rental income (when taxed principally in the UK) will be taxed again in Italy as an Italian resident.

Rental income from properties is dealt with according to the law of the state where the property is situated. This means that you can deduct your expenses in the UK, in entirety and in line with UK law, and then the NET income is declared to HMRC in the UK.

When it comes to the Italian tax declaration the NET UK rental income needs to be declared, along with the tax paid in the UK.

This income is put together with any other income you may have for the year, to be declared in Italy,and a credit is given for the tax already paid in the UK, and the tax is calculated on the normal IRPEF rates (income tax rates in Italy).

In short the NET UK rental income position is what needs to be declared in Italy.

Given the recent clampdown on people who are not declaring their UK rental income in Italy, as Italian residents, this information should help to ease any thoughts of having to pay tax twice.

Of course, all this applies to properties held in other countries as well and not just the UK.

The bottom line is get your affairs ‘in regola’ because it is unlikely to cost you any more than it would in the UK, and you can sleep easy knowing you have done the right thing.

French Tax Changes 2017

By Daphne Foulkes - Topics: Estate Planning, Exchange of Information, France, Income Tax, Inheritance Tax, Offshore Disclosures Facility, Tax, Uncategorised, wealth management, Wills
This article is published on: 3rd January 2017

03.01.17

During December, the following legislation has entered into force:

  • the Loi de Finances 2017
  • the Loi de Finances Rectificative 2016(I); and
  • the Loi de Financement de la Sécurité Sociale 2017

Shown below is a summary of our understanding of the principle changes.

INCOME TAX (Impôt sur le Revenu)

The barème scale, which is applicable to the taxation of income and gains from financial assets, has been revised as follows:

Income Tax Rate
Up to €9,710 0%
€9,711 to €26,818 14%
€26,819 to €71,898 30%
€71,899 to €152,260 41%
€152,261 and over 45%

The above will apply in 2017 in respect of the taxation of 2016 income and gains from financial assets.

Tax Reduction

A tax reduction of 20% will be granted when the income being accessed for taxation is less than €18,500 for single taxpayers, or €37,000 for a couple subject to joint taxation. These thresholds are increased by €3,700 for each additional dependant half-part in the household.

For single taxpayers with income between €18,500 and €20,500, and couples with income between €37,000 and €41,000 (plus in both cases any threshold increase for dependants), a tax reduction will still be granted, although this will be scaled down.

Prélèvement à la source de l’impôt sur le revenu

Currently, taxpayers complete an income tax declaration in May each year, in respect of income received in the previous year. From the beginning of the year, on-account payments of income tax are made, but pending the assessment of the declaration, these are based on the level of income received two years previously. In August, notifications of the actual income tax liability for the previous year are sent out and taxpayers are sent a bill for any underpayment or income tax for the previous year, or in rare situations, there may be a rebate due, typically in the situation where income has reduced, perhaps due to retirement or long-term disability.
Hence, at any time, there is a lag between the tax payments being made in respect of the income being assessed. Therefore, with the aim of closing this gap, France will move to a more modern system of collection of income tax, by taxing income as it arises. This reform will apply to the majority of regular income (including salaries, pensions, self-employed income and unfurnished property rental income), which will become subject to ‘on account’ withholding rates of tax from 1st January 2018.

Where the income is received from a third-party located in France, the organisation paying the income will deduct the tax at source, using the tax rate notified by the French tax authority. The advantage for the taxpayer is that the income tax deduction should more closely reflect the current income tax liability, based on the actual income being paid at the time of the tax deduction.

For income received from a source outside of France, the taxpayer will be required to make on-account monthly tax payments. The on-account amount payable will be set according to the taxpayer’s income in the previous year. However, if there is a strong variation in the current year’s income (compared to the previous year), it will be possible to request an interim adjustment to more accurately reflect the income actually being received, at the time of the payment of the tax.

Transitional payment arrangements will be put in place, as follows:

    • in 2017, taxpayers will pay tax on their 2016 income
    • in 2018, they will pay tax on their 2018 income, in 2019, they will pay tax on their 2019 income, and so on
    • in the second half of 2017, any third party in France making payments will be notified of the levy rate to be applied, which will be determined from 2016 revenues reported by the taxpayer in May 2017
    • from 1st January 2018, the levy rate will be applied to the income payments being made – and
    • the levy rate will then be amended in September each year to take into account any changes, following the income tax declaration made in the previous May

Taxpayers will still be required to make annual income tax declarations. However, what is clear from the transitional arrangements is that the income of 2017 that falls within the review will not actually be taxed; this is to avoid double taxation in 2018 (i.e. of the combination of 2017 and 2018 income). Therefore, to avoid any abuse of the reform, special provisions have been introduced so that taxpayers – who are able to do so – cannot artificially increase their income for the 2017 year.

Furthermore, exceptional non-recurring income received is excluded from the scope of the reform in 2017; this includes capital gains on financial assets and real estate, interest, dividends, stock options, bonus shares and pension taken in the form of cash (prestations de retraite servies sous forme de capital). Therefore, taxpayers will not be able to take advantage of the 2017 year to avoid paying tax on these types of income.

At the same time, the benefits of tax reductions and credits for 2017 will be maintained and allocated in full at the time of tax balancing in the summer of 2018, although for home care and child care, an advance partial tax credit is expected from February 2018. Charitable donations made in 2017, which are eligible for an income tax reduction, will also be taken into account in the balancing of August 2018.

WEALTH TAX (Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune)

There are no changes to wealth tax. Therefore, taxpayers with net assets of at least €1.3 million will continue to be subject to wealth tax on assets exceeding €800,000, as follows:

Fraction of Taxable Assets Tax Rate
Up to €800,000 0%
€800,001 to €1,300,000 0.50%
€1,300,001 to €2,570,000 0.70%
€2,570,001 to € 5,000,000 1%
€5,000,001 to €10,000,000 1.25%
Greater than €10,000,000 1.5%

 

CAPITAL GAINS TAX – Financial Assets (Plus Value Mobilières)

Gains arising from the disposal of financial assets continue to be added to other taxable income and then taxed in accordance with the progressive rates of tax outlined in the barème scale above.

However, the system of ‘taper relief’ still applies for the capital gains tax (but not for social contributions), in recognition of the period of ownership of any company shares, as follows:

  • 50% for a holding period from two years to less than eight years; and
  • 65% for a holding period of at least eight years

This relief also applies to gains arising from the sale of shares in ‘collective investments’, for example, investment funds and unit trusts, providing that at least 75% of the fund is invested in shares of companies.

In order to encourage investment in new small and medium enterprises, the higher allowances against capital gains for investments in such companies are also still provided, as follows:

  • 50% for a holding period from one year to less than four years;
  • 65% for a holding period from four years to less than eight years; and
  • 85% for a holding period of at least eight years

The above provisions apply in 2017 in respect of the taxation of gains made in 2016.

CAPITAL GAINS TAX – Property (Plus Value Immobilières)

Capital gains arising on the sale of a maison secondaire and on building land continue to be taxed at a fixed rate of 19%. However, a system of taper relief applies, as follows:

  • 6% for each year of ownership from the sixth year to the twenty-first year, inclusive; and;
  • 4% for the twenty-second year.

Thus, the gain will become free of capital gains tax after twenty-two years of ownership.

However, for social contributions (which remain at 15.5%), a different scale of taper relief applies, as follows:

  • 1.65% for each year of ownership from the sixth year to the twenty-first year, inclusive;
  • 1.6% for the twenty-second year; and
  • 9% for each year of ownership beyond the twenty-second year.

Thus, the gain will become free of social contributions after thirty years of ownership.

An additional tax continues to apply for a maison secondaire (but not on building land), when the gain exceeds €50,000, as follows:

Amount of Gain Tax Rate
€50,001 – €100,000 2%
€100,001 – €150,000 3%
€150,001 to €200,000 4%
€200,001 to €250,000 5%
€250,001 and over 6%

Where the gain is within the first €10,000 of the lower level of the band, a smoothing mechanism applies to reduce the amount of the tax liability.

The above taxes are also payable by non-residents selling a property or building land in France.

SOCIAL CHARGES (Prélèvements Sociaux)

As has been widely publicised, on 26th February 2015, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that France could not apply social charges to ‘income from capital’, if the taxpayer is insured by another Member State of the EU/EEA or Switzerland. Income from capital includes investment income on financial assets and property rental income, as well as capital gains on financial assets and real estate.

Fundamental to this decision was the fact that the ECJ determined that France’s social charges had sufficient links with the financing of the country’s social security system and benefits. EU Regulations generally provide that people can only be insured by one Member State. Therefore, if the person is insured by another Member State, they cannot also be insured by France and thus, should not have to pay French social charges on income from capital.

On 27th July 2015, the Conseil d’Etat, which is France’s highest court, accepted the ECJ ruling, which paved the way for those people affected to reclaim social charges that had been paid in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This applied to all residents of any EU/EEA State and Switzerland, who had paid social charges on French property rental income and capital gains, but excluded residents outside of these territories.

However, to circumvent the ECJ ruling, France amended its Social Security Code. In doing so, it removed the direct link of social charges to specific social security benefits that fall under EU Regulations. The changes took effect from 1st January 2016.

Hence, if you are resident in France, social charges are applied to your worldwide investment income and gains. The current rate is 15.5% and the charges are also payable by non-residents on French property rental income and capital gains.

Whilst the French Constitutional Council validated the changes in the French Social Security law, it remains highly questionable under EU law. One hopes, therefore, that this may be censored again by the ECJ, at some point.

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION UNDER COMMON REPORTING STANDARD:

As of December 2016, there are now already over 1,300 bilateral exchange relationships activated, with respect to more than 50 jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions have already been collecting information throughout 2016, which will be shared with other jurisdictions by September 2017.

However, there are many more jurisdictions that are committed to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and so it is anticipated that more information exchange agreements will be activated during 2017.

In the EU, the CRS has been brought into effect through the EU Directive on Administrative Cooperation in the Field of Taxation, which was adopted in December 2014. The scope of information exchange is very broad, including investment income (e.g. bank interest and dividends), pensions, property rental income, capital gains from financial assets and real estate, life assurance products, employment income, directors’ fees, as well as account balances of financial assets.

No-one is exempt and therefore, it is essential that when French income tax returns are completed, taxpayers declare all income and gains – even if this is taxable in another country by virtue of a Double Taxation Treaty with France.

It is also obligatory to declare the existence of bank accounts and life assurance policies held outside of France. The penalties for not doing so are €1,500 per account or contract, which increases to €10,000 if this is held in an ‘uncooperative State’ that has not concluded an agreement with France to provide administrative assistance to exchange tax information. Furthermore, if the total value of the accounts and contracts not declared is at least €50,000, then the fine is increased to 5% of the value of the account/contract as at 31st December, if this is greater than €1,500 (€10,000 if in an uncooperative State).

2nd January 2017

This outline is provided for information purposes only. It does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group to take any particular action to mitigate the effects of any potential changes in French tax legislation.

Common Reporting Standards

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Exchange of Information, Offshore Disclosures Facility, spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 13th June 2016

13.06.16

What is it and what does it mean?

Common Reporting Standards is also known as automatic exchange of information (AEI). It originated in May 2014 with 47 countries tentatively agreeing to share information on residents’ assets and incomes automatically as standard practice.

It is the Brainchild of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Previously this information was shared at request, however this was not effective and largely unsuccessful. The main emphasis of this is to battle against tax evasion.

How will it work?

Countries will transfer all the relevant information automatically and systematically including:

  • The name, address, TIN (Tax Identification Number) date and place of birth of each reportable person
  • Account number
  • Name and identifying number of the Reporting Financial Institution
  • Account balance or value at end of calendar year, or if closed during that year
  • Each country is allowed to determine which accounts are reportable

When will it start?

Most European countries will start reporting in 2017, including Spain and the UK. For note of interest, other countries will report in 2018 including Andorra.

Starting to report in 2017:

Anguilla, Argentina, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands, Niue, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Kingdom

Starting to report in 2018:

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Ghana, Grenada, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Marshall Islands, Macao (China), Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Qatar, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu

What do I need to do?

Make sure you have ALL your assets:

  • Reported correctly
  • Tax compliant i.e. not in investments/properties that will mean you pay more in tax
  • Understand your personal situation, and what your options are.

Automatic Exchange of Information (AEI)

By John Hayward - Topics: Automatic Exchange of Information, europe-news, Exchange of Information, spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 11th November 2015

11.11.15

Did you know that recently, approximately 100 countries have signed up to a new initiative by the OECD’s updated Common Reporting Standard (CRS) whereby a global information-sharing system is to be put in place amongst individual tax authorities. This means that information on taxpayers with offshore assets will be shared between the participating countries.

This transparency is meant to be a deterrent to taxpayers’ using offshore accounts and assets as a means of avoiding domestic tax. The participating countries are committed to applying this procedure in order to tackle tax evasion.

This “automatic exchange of financial account information” (AEI) will commence from 2017 on an annual basis between participating countries and is set to become the most comprehensive and powerful tool to date used by worldwide tax authorities.

The first AEI of 2017 will relate to all account information of 1st January 2016 and reporting will involve individuals who own or control accounts either directly or via financial institutions, be it banks, brokers, investment vehicles, insurance companies or other financial organisations.

The Automatic Exchange of Information (AEI) is facilitated by having financial institutions in each participating country reporting relevant information regarding clients, who are resident in another participating country, to their local tax authorities. Local tax authorities will then automatically exchange this information with their counterparts in other participating countries on an annual basis.

The account information generally includes account number, balance and gross earnings in respect of any payments through the account including any investment income, income earned from assets etc. The information on each person generally includes name, address, country of residence, nationality, national insurance and tax identification numbers, place and date of birth.

So if you live in Spain and have overseas assets and/or investments that you previously thought were non-declarable to the Spanish authorities, then this may be something that you need to address.

Full exchange of financial account information is on the doorstep.

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Exchange of Information, Italy, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 9th November 2015

09.11.15

I have written in previous articles about the fast approaching days when all financial information will be available to all tax authorities. In fact, my last piece on the subject explained that the OECD had signed up approximately 53 members countries and were working on a standardised format (Common Reporting Standard, CRS) with which to exchange financial information across borders.
This email expands on this subject as more information has now become available.

The CRS, formally the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, (SAEFAITM – this abbreviation just flows off the tongue!) seeks to establish a global methodology for the sharing amongst tax authorities of relevant data in relation to financial assets. The transparency created by the CRS is meant to be a deterrent to taxpayers use of offshore accounts and to non-declaration of assets in other states/countries.

So far 100 countries signed up and committed to implementing this Standard and it is ‘likely to’ become (Sorry! I meant, ‘will become’) the most powerful tool of tax authorities worldwide.

There are nearly 60 “early adopters”, (see list below) and for these countries the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information will commence from 2017 on an annual basis between participating countries in respect to their tax residents, and in certain cases domicile persons. But here is the catch….It will relate to all account information of 1 January 2016.

Reporting will have to be made by all individuals who own or control accounts in financial institutions either directly or through companies, trusts, foundations and in certain cases insurance policies.

Financial institutions include, but are not limited to, banks, collective investment vehicles, custodians and insurance companies.

Financial institutions in each country will basically collect and report information to their local tax authorities regarding their clients who are resident in another participating country.

And the local tax authorities automatically exchange this information on an annual basis with their counterparts in the other participating countries.

Account information to be reported will generally include
* account number
* account balances
* gross earnings in respect of any payments through the account, including but not limited to any investment income such as dividends or funds from insurance companies
* income earned from assets and sale profits from financial assets

The exact nature of information to be exchanged between each participating country must be defined in the intergovernmental agreement between the two countries, but I think we can safely expect that all European states and the USA will be sharing data in a standardised format.

The information on each reportable person generally includes:
* name
* address
* country of residence
* tax identification numbers
* place and date of birth

Financial institutions will also need to disclose not only the account holder but also any beneficial owners, controlling persons or even in certain cases “relevant persons” of entities and trusts.

Data protection is also going to be a very interesting issue and the OECD do say that information exchanged in this way, i.e through the common reporting standard, cannot be provided to other governmental institutions once shared. I have my doubts whether that will happen!

So what can we take from this? Well I think it is becoming more and more self explanatory. Big brother has finally arrived and there are no more hiding places. As I have been ‘preaching’ for many years now: if you are a resident in Italy and have still not arranged your financial affairs ‘in regola’ then you have about 2 months to do so until all financial information will become available to tax authorities: 1st January 2016.

I have found the key to living in Italy is knowing that there is a difference between tax reporting and tax planning. Your commercialista is there to help you report your taxes through the overly complicated tax reporting system in Italy. However they are not there to help and discuss ways to plan around the Italian tax system. That is where the role of the financial planner comes in and with the extensive knowledge I have built up over the 11 years I have been living and working in Italy, I can sometimes identify areas where you can save tax, increase incomes and restructure your affairs in a compliant manner, not always, but I am happy to give it a go!

So, if you would like to contact me about this then feel free to do so on gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com or on cell 3336492356.

If you are also interested to know who are the early adopting countries, then the list is below. You will note that Italy and the UK appear on that list. The USA does not because it has already commenced its own International tax reporting standard known as FATCA.

Early adopter countries – undertaking first AEI by 2017 in respect of 2016 information
Anguilla, Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bulgaria, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Netherlands, Niue, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uruguay, United Kingdom.

Disclaimer
The views expressed here are my own. They are not necessarily shared by The Spectrum IFA group or any other company named or implied. They are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions. This is not an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security and should not be construed as such. References to specific securities or companies are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities.