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Do you know the rules around domicility?

By Derek Winsland - Topics: domiciled, Events, France, Habitual Residence, Residency
This article is published on: 1st September 2017

01.09.17

Like many in France, I took time off this month, and to while away the time, caught up on some industry articles. One such article was written by Old Mutual International that presented the results of a small survey it can conducted amongst ex-pats regarding what they believed were the rules around domicility.

It asked the respondents six questions, and the answers were sufficiently enlightening that I thought I’d share them with you.

1. British expats mistakenly believe they are no longer UK domiciled
Everyone has a domicile of origin, acquired at birth. For UK nationals, it’s possible to acquire a new domicile (a domicile of choice) by settling in a new country with the intention of living there permanently. However, it is not always guaranteed that one can lose one’s UK domiciled status and acquire a new one, as there are no fixed rules (as you would expect from HMRC) as to what is required.

Living in another country for a long time, although an important factor does not prove a new domicile has been acquired. Among the many conditions that HMRC list, it states that all links with the UK must be severed and they must have no intention of returning to the UK.

Research* shows 74% of UK expats who consider themselves no longer UK domiciled still hold assets in the UK, and 81% have not ruled out returning to the UK in the future. This means HMRC is likely to still consider them to be deemed UK domiciled.

2. British expats mistakenly believe they are only liable to UK inheritance tax (IHT) on their UK assets
As most British expats will still be deemed UK domiciled on death, it is important to understand that their worldwide assets will become subject to UK IHT. A common misconception is that just UK assets are caught. This lack of knowledge could have a profound impact on beneficiaries.

Before probate can be granted, the probate fee and any inheritance tax due on an estate must be paid. With UK IHT currently set at 40%, there could be a significant bill for beneficiaries to pay before they can access their inheritance. Setting up a life insurance policy could help ensure beneficiaries have access to cash to pay the required fees. Advisers setting up policies specifically for this purpose must ensure they place the policy in trust to enable funds to be paid out instantly without the need for probate.

Research* shows a staggering 82% of UK expats do not realise that both their UK and world-wide assets could be subject to UK IHT.

3. British expats mistakenly believe they are no longer subject to UK taxes when they leave the UK
All income and gains generated from UK assets or property continue to be subject to UK taxes. Some expats seem to think that just because they no longer live in the UK they don’t need to declare their income or capital gains from savings and investments or property held in the UK. By not declaring the correct taxes people can find they end up being investigated by HMRC, and the sanctions for non-disclosure are getting tougher.

Research* shows 11% of UK expats with UK property did not know that UK income tax may need to be paid if their property is rented out, and 27% were unaware that Capital Gains Tax may need to be paid if the property is sold.

4. British expats mistakenly believe that their spouse can sign documents on their behalf should anything happen to them
The misconception that a spouse or child or a professional will be able to manage their affairs should they become mentally incapacitated is leading people to think they don’t need a Power of Attorney (POA) in place. This could result in families being left in a vulnerable position as their loved ones will not automatically be able to step in and act on their behalf. Instead, there will be a delay whilst they apply to the Court of Protection to obtain the necessary authority. This extra complication is all avoidable by completing a lasting POA form and registering it with the Court of Protection.

Research* shows 44% of UK expats wrongly believe their spouse will be able to sign on their behalf should they become mentally incapacitated.

5. British expats unsure if their will is automatically recognised in the country they have moved to
It is wrong to assume a will or POA document is automatically recognised in the country in which they move to. Often overseas law is driven by where the person is habitually resident, and the laws of that country will apply. Therefore, people may require a UK will and POA for their UK assets and a separate one covering their assets in the country they live. The wills also need to acknowledge each other so as not to supersede each other.

Research* shows 50% of UK expats do not know if a will or POA is legally recognised in the country they have moved to.

If you feel you could be affected by this, or 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.

Le Tour de Finance

Le Tour de Finance, Domaine Gayda, 6th October 2017

This year’s event is now fully subscribed and we are unable to accept any more places. If you were wanting to attend, but hadn’t got round to booking, then all is not lost. It’s possible to make a personal appointment to see me in our Limoux office. Please ring either the office or me directly on my mobile.

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.

Tips on choosing a Financial Adviser?

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: France, Residency, Spectrum-IFA Group
This article is published on: 11th July 2017

11.07.17

This is a very important question and one raised many times in forums and during seminars. I think there are six key factors in choosing a financial adviser who will be right for you:

Can I work with the adviser?
A financial adviser is someone who is not just here for your needs today, but someone who will be around for the long term. As your needs change, your adviser needs to be able to go through these changes and tell you when the French or UK government make changes that can impact your financial position.

Who do they work for?
It is important that you get an understanding of the company your adviser works for. Google them, or look for forum threads, to see how other expatriates have found dealing with them. It is important to know not just that they have a good reputation, but that they are quick to act in the event of any issues which may arise.

Are they regulated within the country you live?
Whilst the UK can still “passport” financial products to the EU, there is no guarantee that this will continue seamlessly after Brexit. One way you can ensure whatever happens that you face the least amount of change is to deal with a company regulated in the country where you live.

What is the advisers experience and history with their company?
Has your financial adviser a history of financial advice and not just a background in financial services? You want to ensure that the knowledge they have is relevant to your financial needs. It can also provide comfort if you know your adviser has been with their current company for some time.

Can they provide testimonials from recent customers?
There are few better ways of putting your mind at rest than asking your adviser if you could speak over the phone to one of two of their existing customers. It provides great peace of mind, when looking at a new financial partner.

Are they open and transparent, regarding any costs and fees involved in using them?
When you first meet your adviser, ask them for any terms of business and how working with them would progress. Be sure to ask whether there are any upfront costs involved and what the ongoing fee structure will be. You should know in advance of any commitment how they will deal with you and your estate.

 

Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

UK expats cannot vote after 15 years abroad

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Elections, France, Habitual Residence, Residency, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 12th June 2017

12.06.17

This article was written in May 2015 by a lawyer friend of mine and is as relevant today.

The result of the UK election was meant to be much closer. If it had been closer, the rule which prevents British expats who have been abroad for more than 15 years from voting in Parliamentary elections may have come under renewed scrutiny.

The size of the British community abroad is estimated at 5.6 million. Most expats leave the UK for work-related reasons, taking their families with them. Mixed-nationality marriages are also a factor in emigration decisions, as well as the wish of many British pensioners to retire abroad. Thanks to exchange programs, the number of students travelling around the world to experience life abroad has increased significantly in recent years. In our ever more globalized world, borders are disappearing.

These “British Expats” are unofficial but precious ambassadors, promoting British values to their host countries. They make an invaluable contribution to the diffusion of their culture, disseminating the “British Way of Life” by projecting an image of their “Britishness” around them. In the view of the Institute for Public Policy Research, “British abroad are not a burden or an embarrassment: they are in many ways the best of the UK and we should be proud and supportive of them”.

However, their political situation is overshadowed by the fact that they lose their right to vote in the United Kingdom after they have been living abroad for more than 15 years, no matter how frequently they return to visit their home country. Exceptions exist for the military, civil servants and British Council employees, but all other British expats cannot vote under the current UK law. While most developed countries such as France, Spain, Switzerland or the USA have recognized their own expat population by giving them an unrestricted right to vote in national elections, the United Kingdom seems to be one of the few countries with this type of restrictive rule.

How the law changed
Before 1985, British citizens living outside the United Kingdom were unable to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. Following intensive pressure, the Representation of the People Act 1985 finally gave them the right to vote. They could register as “overseas voters” in the constituency where they last lived in the UK. But, 1985 also marked the beginning of a ‘time limit’ during which British expats would be able to remain on the electoral register. This period was shortened and extended, but has never been unlimited.

The Representation of the People Act 1985 made provision for British citizens residing outside the United Kingdom to remain on the electoral register in the UK for a period of 5 years. In 1989, this period was extended to 20 years. In 2000, it was decided to reduce it to 15 years, with effect from 1 April 2002, leading to the rule that applies today.

A discriminatory and arbitrary rule, according to most British expats
Due to this, pressure groups have been created to plead for the abolition of the 15-year rule. They claim that the legislation is discriminatory, arbitrary and serves no useful purpose.

They consider it to be discriminatory because not all British expats are concerned by the legislation. As indicated previously, members of the armed forces, Crown servants and employees of the British Council are exempted from the rule. Besides, in accordance with European Union Treaties, all European citizens have the right to live and work in another state of the EU. These fundamental rights should not be subject to any restrictions or penalties. They accuse the UK of acting in a discriminatory fashion by penalising the right of free movement of its citizens, whilst most other developed countries do not.

They also consider it an arbitrary treatment because the cut-off point has been fixed without a concrete objective or justified basis on which to determine who should have the right to vote. The Government used to claim that people who have lived abroad for over 15 years are likely to lose links with the UK. However, in today’s world of increasing global communication, this argument does not seem appropriate any more.

Comparison with other countries
Unlike the UK, most advanced democracies have granted their expat population an unrestricted right to vote in national elections.
In June 2012, French people abroad were able to vote for their MPs for the first time. Around the world, 11 constituencies were created. (See the article on the FBCCI Blog: Voting rights for British Expats: What can the UK learn from France?)

Spanish expats’ rights are guaranteed by article 68 of the Constitution. In Portugal, according to the Constitution, the single-chamber Assembly of the Republic is “the representative assembly of all Portuguese citizens”. Thus, expats have the same right to vote in elections for the Assembly as citizens living in Portugal. Italian expats are represented in both chambers of the parliament and elect 65 representatives to the ‘Consiglio Generale degli Italiani all’Estero’. The United States also guarantee their expat population’s political rights.

Efforts to reform
Faced with this situation, some national and European politicians have asked for the law to be reviewed or, at least, debated.

“The exercise of the freedom of movement should not result in losing an important democratic right” says Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for electoral rights, in her factsheet “Promoting your electoral rights”. “Although EU law grants EU citizens the right to participate in municipal and European elections in the Member State where they reside, it provides no such right with regard to national elections. (…) Given that EU citizens of those Member States are not able to participate in any national elections (neither in the Member State of origin not in the Member State of residence), they are deprived of one of their most important political rights just because they exercise their right to free movement. (…) The Commission will launch a discussion to identify political options to prevent EU citizens from losing their political rights when they exercise their right to free movement.”

A short debate in the House of Lords on voting arrangements for British citizens living overseas and members of the armed forces serving abroad was held on 2nd March 2011. Viscount Astor, arduous defender of the overseas voters’ electoral rights (“This 15-year rule is unfair and excludes perhaps half the expatriates living overseas. There is no credible reason for that.”), asked whether the Government would consider changing the voting arrangements that were currently in place. He called on the Government to look again at the 15-year rule. Lord Lester of Herne Hill agreed with him and has previously asked the Government to legislate to change the rules.

More recently, calls have been made for the Government to reconsider this rule. The issue was raised during the passage of the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012-2013 in the House of Commons. Conservative Geoffrey Clifton-Brown proposed that a new clause should be added to the Bill to remove the 15-year limit rule: “the new clause would remove this qualifying period altogether, so that all British citizens could qualify as overseas voters, regardless of when they were last resident in the UK”.

The Parliamentary Secretary, David Health, replied that the Government would give the issue “serious consideration” but that it would not rush into a decision, “not because of any wish to obstruct, but simply because the question of extending the franchise is a fundamental one and both the Government and the House would have to feel comfortable with doing that”. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn.

The Bill received its second reading in the Lords on the 24th July 2012 and Lord Norton of Louth raised the issue of overseas voters during the debate. Lord Lexen also called for the 15-year rule to be abolished: (…) I urge strongly that the scope of the Bill be extended, as my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth argued, by adding to it provision to enable all our fellow subjects of Her Majesty who live abroad to vote in our parliamentary elections. This would end the 15-year limit rule, for which no clear rationale has ever been offered (…)”.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire responded for the Government and said there were no plans to extend the 15-year limit rule: “The Government does not have any plans at the present moment to lengthen the period from leaving the country beyond 15 years, nor do we have any really ambitious plans to do what is done in some other countries, which is to allow voting in embassies and consulates. However, the electoral period will help”.

The entrenched position of the Courts

The feeling of not being understood and being prejudiced in the execution of one of their fundamental rights has encouraged some expats to challenge the rules before the courts.

Two cases were brought recently.
The first case concerned James Preston, a British citizen living with his family in Spain and working for UK companies since 1995. In 2009 he was denied the right to vote in Parliamentary elections, having lived outside the UK for 15 years. He went to the High Court in 2011, asking for judicial review of the legislation but his case was dismissed. His application to take his case to the Court of Appeal was denied in 2012. Lord Justice Elias said he appreciated Mr. Preston and other expats were “genuinely upset about the rule”, but that there was no real evidence that “it does create a barrier of any kind to freedom of movement”. “It is inherently unlikely that the loss of the right to vote would be sufficient to cause expats to up sticks and return to the UK”, he added.

The second case was brought by Harry Shindler, a World War II veteran who retired to Italy in the early 1980’s. He took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, alleging a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, which provides that: “The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”.

He claimed that no time-limit should be imposed on expats’ voting rights. He considered he should have the right to choose his place of residence without being disenfranchised. “Universal suffrage is set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Universal to my mind, and in every dictionary I’ve seen, means ‘everybody’”. “Expats abroad pay their taxes at home. There are those who have property and haven’t sold it because they believe they’ll be coming back. They pay taxes on that property. They pay council tax. The pensions we get, government and private, come from the UK and those pensions, when they reach a certain limit, are taxed in the UK. So here we have expats who pay their taxes and are not allowed to vote. It’s unacceptable.”

However, the court in Strasbourg rejected his case, ruling that the 15-year limit was “not an insubstantial period of time” and it was up to the British Government whether to choose a cut-off point. Therefore, in the court’s view, the 15-year rule does not violate the right to free elections.
In view of the positions of both the courts and the Government, it seems British expats are stuck in a situation where, after 15 years abroad, they may still pay taxes in the UK, still feel British and strongly linked to their home country, but cannot vote in British elections; nor in their host country’s national elections either.

In November 2011, the Government said Mr. Shindler is not a ‘victim’, since “it was open to him to take Italian citizenship and acquire a right to vote in elections to the Italian national parliament”.

David Burrage, an ex-soldier and policeman who co-founded the British Expats Association of Spain, commented: “When I consider that Harry had jumped ashore and onto the beaches at Anzio and offered up his life, like so many of our brave servicemen, during World War II, when viewed alongside the conduct of our Government, by way of that most recent response on their behalf, it not only makes me feel ashamed, I also feel utterly disgusted”.

Although this statement dates from 2011, it still expresses the feelings of many British expats.
Neil Robertson
Solicitor, England & Wales
Avocat au Barreau de Paris
May 2015

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.

“How dare they move abroad and take their wealth with them!”

By David Hattersley - Topics: BREXIT, Elections, Residency, Spain, Theresa May, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 19th April 2017

19.04.17

Taken from a (fictional) script of a new episode of “Yes Minister”, re-introducing the following cast.

Chancellor of The Exchequer: The Right Honourable Jim Hacker
Permanent Secretary to the Treasury: Sir Humphrey Appleby
Principal Private Secretary to Jim Hacker: Bernard Woolley

Sir Humphrey, bursts into the office of the Chancellor, unannounced, hot, bothered, angry and ranting.

Sir Humphrey: The PM has just announced another election, What is that woman playing at !!. Heavens above it was only weeks ago that we spent ages working on the Budget, which may never come into effect, or at least until it becomes law, by which time we may, heavens forbid, have had a change of government, and have to start all over again. Teaching newcomers about the real facts !!!!!……. How can I run the nations Treasury on that basis????. It reminds of the last time a lady PM was in charge, daring to throw her hand bag around dictating what we could and couldn’t do. It created chaos. We have only just managed to get back to a kind of orderly sensible running of this department and the Civil Service. What is the point of having a Cabinet if you don’t share the information first.!!!!

Bernard: Sir Humphrey, please calm down a little. To be fair, it’s only a few months since the Minister was appointed. It’s not as if he fully knows the ropes yet. Besides, we tried to contact you this morning at your office, immediately after the Cabinet meeting, but were told that you were at your club having breakfast with old friends from Oxford and were not to be disturbed as you were talking about important issues in relation to the Budget.

Sir Humphrey: Minister you should have let me know earlier. Surely the PM must have known that she was going to make this U – turn, despite saying only a few months ago she wasn’t going to have a General Election until 2020. That’s the trouble with politicians, changing their minds, to the whim of the public at a moment’s notice. We seem to be moving to the policies of our neighbours in the EU, in particular Greece, France and Italy along with the US where a populist trend or tweet is considered grounds to react without the calm sensible order to the stability that we in the Civil Service desire.

Jim: The Cabinet meeting was held this morning. This U turn was only discussed this morning. It was felt that it was in the best interests to enable the PM to be elected as the leader of the party best in the position to negotiate a favourable exit. We needed to do this as soon as possible, so that stability is returned quickly. You seem to forget the previous lady P.M., whom you deride, and may I remind you, “Was not for turning”, who was then thrown out of power by a small number of people, and the electorate was not given the chance to vote . This is democracy at its finest, I think the PM should be applauded for taking this risk, as we all are.

Sir Humphrey: calming down…..mumble mumble, …… Minister I suggest we look at the best way to ensure that the best bits of the Budget that can be carried forward and that we can get some additional revenue coming into the State coffers without too much difficulty.

Jim: Mmm, I am a little concerned that perhaps some elements are a little too hasty and need further thought and consideration. We need to consider that the UK is still part of the EU, and is still subject to the freedom of movement of goods and services as enshrined by the EU/EEA constitution.

Sir Humphrey: In the mean time Minister, due to the election and additional delays we still need to make things harder to protect against a possible net capital outflow for those that are bringing forward plans to retire overseas. I was talking this morning to the FCA, along with the friends from Oxford who are either CEO’s of product providers concerned about retaining their funds under management, along those who are trustees of UK pension schemes. Maybe in two years time we will be well shot of the EU and bothersome elements of the EEA, and can then treat ex pats and the Europeans that move back to their original country as one. As for the Scots we are bribing them with more money than we can afford to stay within the UK. However they seem intent on holding another referendum to leave the Union and join the EU. In that event we can borrow President Trump’s brilliant idea by rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall to stop those heathen coming in. And that can be paid for by increasing the duty on their Scotch.

Bernard: errmmm can I remind you Sir Humphrey, that if what is left of the Union leaves the EU, and just stays in the EEA , then what is left might not get the benefits of the subsidies of the Common Agricultural Policy. That could mean that things like Scottish Salmon, Lamb, Beef and Irish butter from remaining members will get these subsidies whilst what remains of the UK won’t as we will have lost the benefits of the CAP.

Sir Humphrey: Look , after all it was the English electorate that voted to leave and they will have no sympathy with any of them whatsoever. This is especially after that brilliant campaign by the Daily Blurb to stop winter fuel payments to pensioners living in the sunny Costa’s.

Jim: Didn’t they have snow on the Costa’s recently, that seems pretty wintery to me !

Sir Humphrey: Yes, but Minister , that is once every 30 odd years, a one off .

Jim: About the same number of years since there has been snow in London on Christmas Day then!!!!! Their homes are not built for winter, and those that live 10 kms inland have had to suffer cold winters regularly.

A by now exasperated Sir Humphrey: You haven’t given me the chance to explain the wider picture….. We have to take a long term view. The best bit Minister is when 70% of the ex pats return to be with children & grandchildren, or illness, and they eventually need residential care. They will have to pay for this, but not via HMRC taxation, more a sort of stealth tax. Most won’t realize this as it is not direct taxation, but capital assets have to be liquidated to pay to local Social Services under the Care Act. This leaves a maximum of £23,350 per individual that cannot be used for this purpose. It avoids the pesky IHT rules and allowances, with very little being passed to the next generation. That means that they too will have to work longer and harder, still paying tax of course, without the help of a legacy. That solves the problem of demographics, we have to take the longer view. So we hit them on the way out and on the way back in a triple whammy for daring to retire abroad, and not staying to pay taxes in this glorious country of ours as it moves back to its former glories. After all the opportunities we have given to the great British public over the years, for some of them, how dare they move abroad and take their wealth with them. Ungrateful peasants.!!!

Jim: Doesn’t that discriminate against the very idea of freedom and choice, they took a risk. I remember the 60’s and early 70’s when one was limited to the amount of money one could take out of the UK under exchange controls, for those lucky enough to go on holiday abroad in those dark days. My parent’s passports were stamped accordingly to prevent capital flight and a further fall in Sterling. It is wrong, to return to those dark old days and take that freedom away, that’s not playing cricket.

Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister ,but we will also potentially lose further tax payers when some of the companies in the City relocate part of their operations to Europe, along with research companies that may relocate to Scotland so that they still benefit from EU grants. Someone has to pay for that loss and we have to be realistic and find a way that is politically acceptable to the remaining electorate and protect our interests’ as a result of an additional loss to the countries coffers. I know it may not be cricket, but that is a just a game, to which incidentally I will thoroughly enjoy watching from the members pavilion at Lords , after meeting up with the ex leader of UKIP who has just been nominated as a member. Perhaps you’d like to become a member too Minister, I am sure that could be arranged.

Jim: Sir Humphrey, I am pleased for you as a civil servant that you are to be able to spend 5 days off watching a Test Match live. As a working politician I still have the dispatch boxes to go through, and attend to the needs of my constituents. So I am lucky to watch the one hour highlights on TV, so I will have to decline your offer. And there is a minor chance that unlike you I might be out of work in a few weeks time, can’t afford to be a member of Lords, and revert back to a real job.

Moving away from fiction lets deal with the facts

Factual time line.
UK Statutory Residents Test . Finance Act 2013. Note how helpful it is for those coming in, and how difficult it is for those leaving in relation to tax.

UK sited residential property held by ex pats once tax resident abroad. Finance Act 2014. From April 6th 2015, any gain from that date in the value of the property thereafter, upon sale will be liable to UK Capital Gains tax, and as such the gain will be paid directly to UK HMRC.

Care Act 2014.Statutory testing of benefits for care .Introduced two stages April 2015, & then April 2016. The April 2016 element included a revised increased of the thresholds re residual capital and was deferred in April 2015 until at least April 2010 when it will be reviewed again.

FCA ruling. April 2016. Advice and the report required on the potential transfer to a QROP of a Defined Benefit Pensions can only be carried by a UK regulated IFA who charges fees upfront.

Finance Bill March 8th 2017. A potential tax surcharge of 25% of the pot after transferring a UK pension to a QROP.
( Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension ) Exemptions apply to this particularly if you reside in EEA/EU for five complete tax years after the transfer is completed. A review of all QROP’s providers to see that they match the new rules, in particular those that are outside the EU/EEA area. The rules are more onerous for non EEA / EU residency of both individual and provider. In addition as a “foreign pension” paid to a returning ex pat a QROP will no longer benefit from 90% of this being liable to UK income tax. It will revert to a 100% with immediate effect.

An unusual element of the bill was the fact that it came into effect on the 9th March, allowing no time for those plans already in progress. It is unusual to take such a draconian step and not allow sufficient time for those cases in the process of being progressed to be halted in such a manner.

March 29th 2017. The date the UK formally triggered Article 50 to leave the EU. This has already negated the EU element of the EU/ EEA referred to above re QROP’s.

April 18th 2017 Announcement of UK General Election for June 8th 2017.

A further note is that UK HMRC will still allow personal allowances on taxation of assets held in the UK for non-resident UK citizens living abroad within the EEA. This was dated the 7th April 2017, direct from UK Gov HMRC website. Whether that will continue in the future, will be dependant on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, and that is the great unknown. If you follow the logic applied to the above and the UK does leave the EEA, you have been given at least advance warning.

Most of us as regulated advisers in the EU have come across some UK providers of all manner of, Unit Trusts, ISA’s and Pensions in particular making life extremely difficult too.

So action is required , one has to say immediately, before it is too late. Finally my thanks to the BBC and Antony Jay/Jonathan Lynne for the original Yes Minister,and in particular that episode where Sir Humphrey extols the virtue of the UK remaining in the EU. Thank you for the inspiration to write an updated version that is current, possible and satirical.

Modelo 720 Reporting Time!

By Chris Burke - Topics: Modelo 720, Residency, Spain, Tax, tax tips, Tips
This article is published on: 23rd March 2017

23.03.17

Just a reminder that time is running out for submitting your Modelo 720 declaration.

All those tax residents in Spain, (those living in Spain for more than 183 days a year or where Spain is the main base for your business), should be aware that as a result of legislation passed on 29th October 2012 residents in Spain who have any assets outside of Spain with a value of €50.000 or more, are required to submit this declaration form to the Spanish authorities. (that’s €50.000 or alternative currency equivalent).

This declaration can be made online, through the Tax Office`s web page www.agenciatributaria.es where the Modelo 720 (Tax in Spain) can be located and completed. It must be filed between January 1, and March 31, of the first year of residence, to avoid being investigated or fined by the Spanish authorities. I would personally recommend speaking with your accountant / Gestoria to avoid mistakes.

The assets outside of Spain that are subject to this declaration form fall into 3 asset categories:
1. Property
2. Bank accounts (cash)
3. Investments

To warrant a declaration the total value of assets should exceed € 50.000 in each or any one of the categories; e.g. if you have 3 bank accounts and totalling up all the balances it exceeds the €50.000 limit you are subject to making the Modelo 720 declaration. However, if you have a bank account at €30.000 and say, investments valued at €30.000 then there would be no reporting requirement as they are in separate categories and each individual total value does not exceed the €50.000.

A declaration must be submitted individually, regardless of the percentage of ownership (in joint accounts). For example, if you have a joint bank account with a value exceeding €50.000, although your particular (say €25,000) share is below the threshold, each owner would still be required to submit an individual declaration based on the total value of the account.

Although this declaration of assets abroad is solely informative and no tax is charged, failure to file, late filing or false information could result in serious consequences.

For this reason, we recommend that everybody arranges to declare their assets, to avoid the imposition of fines from a minimum of €10,000 to a maximum of 150% of the value of those undeclared assets located outside Spain. Once you have made your first declaration it is not necessary to present any further declarations in subsequent years, unless any of your assets in any category increases by more than €20.000 above the initial value declared.

BRITISH IN ITALY

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: BREXIT, Italy, Residency
This article is published on: 2nd March 2017

02.03.17

As you may already be aware I am now a part of the group called ‘British in Italy‘ which has been set up to protect and fight for the rights of Italian citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU.

As we move further through the BREXIT process no doubt more information will come to light regarding the protection that the UK and EU will grant us in these negotiations.

Our message is simple:

We should be granted all the rights that we have acquired and/or are entitled to before the UK chose to leave the EU.

I would ask you to get behind this movement and help us to fight for you in the UK and in Italy, in our discussions at the UK Embassy and also in our meetings with Italian MPs. It is very important that we are seen to be representing a large number of UK Nationals living in Italy. Numbers hold a lot of credibility for us.

In 2015 ISTAT (the Italian statistics agency) recorded approximately 27000 UK Nationals registered in Italy. We are in touch with about 1000. We have a long way to go!

If you have not yet made your presence known, and/or you know someone who hasn’t then feel free to get in touch with the British in Italy group at britsinitaly@gmail.com Your name and contact information will be registered and you will be added to a newsletter mailing list. (Your information will not be shared or used for corporate purposes).

Or follow us on Facebook HERE

Our objectives are listed below:

  • British in Italy is a group of UK citizens resident in Italy concerned about the effect of Brexit on the many thousands of UK citizens in Italy and the half million or so Italians in the UK.
  • Our aim is to ensure that Brexit does not penalise these individuals, all of whom made the decision to move across the Channel in bona fide and relying on their EU right of freedom of movement.
  • UK citizens already in Italy and Italians already in the UK should therefore continue to have all the rights they had acquired or were in the process of acquiring while the UK was in the EU.
  • We have already lobbied the UK government hard not to take these rights away from EU citizens in the UK.

Remember to get in touch at britsinitaly@gmail.com

• We now call upon the Italian government, both as a national government and as a founding member of the EU, to ensure that in the negotiations over Brexit these rights are not taken away from expatriate citizens on either side of the Channel.

Remember to get in touch at britsinitaly@gmail.com

Are you thinking of selling your UK property or have you sold one recently?

By Sue Regan - Topics: CGT, France, Income Tax, Residency, tax advice, tax tips, UK property, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 13th January 2017

13.01.17

I decided on the topic for this month’s article after having had a couple of very similar conversations recently with expats relating to the sale of property in the UK. In each case they were badly let down by their UK Solicitors who failed to inform them of a change in UK legislation that was introduced in April 2015. As a result, they received unexpected and not insignificant late payment penalties from HMRC for failure to complete a form following the sale of their UK property which could have been avoided if they had been made aware of this change in the law.

Recap of the new legislation

Prior to 6th April 2015 overseas investors and British expats were not required to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the sale of residential property in the UK, providing that they had been non-resident for 5 years. New legislation was introduced on 6th April 2015 that removed this tax benefit.

The rate of CGT for non-residents on disposals of residential property is the same as UK residents and depends on the amount of taxable UK income the individual has i.e. 18% for basic rate band and 28% above it, and it is only the gain made since the 6th April 2015 that is subject to CGT for non-UK residents.

Reporting the gain

When you sell your property, you need to fill out a Non-Resident Capital Gains Tax (NRCGT) return online and inform HMRC within 30 days of completing the sale, regardless of whether you’ve made a profit or not. This applies whether or not you currently file UK tax returns. You can find the form and more information on the HMRC website at hmrc.gov.uk

Paying the tax

If you have a requirement to complete a UK tax return then payment of any CGT liability can be made within normal self-assessment deadlines. However those who do not ordinarily file a UK tax return will be required to pay the liability within 30 days of completion. Once you have submitted the form notifying HMRC that the disposal has taken place, a reference number will be issued in order to make payment.

As a French resident you also have to declare any gain to the French tax authority. The Double Taxation Treaty between the UK and France means that you will not be taxed twice on the same gain, as you will be given a tax credit for any UK CGT paid (limited to the amount of French CGT). The French CGT rate is 19% and any taxable gain is reduced by taper-relief over 22 years of ownership. You will also be liable to French Social Charges on the gain, at the rate of 15.5%, and the gain for this purpose is tapered over 30 years (rather than 22 years).

At Spectrum we do not consider ourselves to be Tax Experts and we strongly recommend that you seek professional advice from your Accountant or a Notaire in this regard.

There is little that can be done to mitigate the French tax liability on the sale of property that is not your principal residence. So it is important to shelter the sale proceeds and other financial assets wherever possible to avoid future unnecessary taxes. One easy way to do this is by investing in a life assurance policy, which in France is known as a Contrat d’Assurance Vie, and is the favoured vehicle used by millions of French investors. Whilst funds remain within the policy they grow free of Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. In addition, this type of investment is highly efficient for Inheritance planning as it is considered to be outside of your standard estate for inheritance purposes, and you are free to name whoever and as many beneficiaries as you wish. There are very generous allowances for beneficiaries of contracts for amounts invested before the age of 70. Spectrum will typically use international Assurance Vie policies that fully comply with French rules and are treated in the same way as French policies by the fiscal authorities.

International Assurance Vie policies are proving highly popular in light of Loi Sapin II, which has now been enacted into law. More details about the possible detrimental effects of the ‘Sapin Law’ on French Assurance Vie contracts, in certain situations, can be found on our website at www.spectrum-ifa.com/fonds-en-euros-assurances-vie-policies/. Thus, when also faced with the prospect of very low investments returns on Fonds en Euros – in which the majority of monies in French Assurance Vie contracts are invested – it is very prudent to consider the alternative of an international Assurance Vie contract, particularly as you would still benefit from all the same personal tax and inheritance advantages that apply to French contracts.

I have a long term relationship with a UK regulated financial adviser, why should I speak to French regulated one?

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: France, Residency, Uncategorised, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 14th September 2016

14.09.16

Many of us have banking and financial services relationships from the UK and whilst you may feel a financial review now you are resident in France isn’t urgent or important the benefits can be enormous. A full financial review can be free and you should always ask what costs are applicable to any consultation you arrange. Some of the benefits include:

Capital Gains Tax – Certain tax efficient savings and investments recognised by HMRC would not qualify under French taxation, leaving you with a tax bill on the gain element.

Inheritance Tax – UK inheritance tax planning is very different to that in France and even though you can opt to have your UK will recognised in France, tax on your estate will be based on French tax rates and laws.

Compliance with the French tax system – Knowing how and when to declare your investments and savings can avoid financial penalties for non-disclosure.

It is very important to remember that whilst your UK financial adviser has been of great service whilst you were resident in Great Britain, if they are not trained and regulated in the country you now live the French authorities will still expect your financial affairs to fully comply to French laws and this may mean you are presented with an extra tax bill for any non compliance.

Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.