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Spain/Gibraltar Tax Treaty – tax residency of individuals

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Gibraltar, spain, Tax
This article is published on: 5th June 2019

05.06.19

On 4 March 2019, Spain and the UK (acting on behalf of Gibraltar) signed an international agreement on taxation and the protection of mutual financial interests.

This is the first agreement on Gibraltar with Spain since the 1713 Utrecht Treaty. However it does not imply any modification of the respective legal status of Spain and the UK with regards to sovereignty and jurisdiction over Gibraltar.

It is important to note that this treaty has not yet been ratified by the two respective national parliaments.

The treaty incorporates the provisions for tax residency of natural persons:
1- Whereby natural persons are deemed resident in Spain and Gibraltar according to their domestic law,
(i) They shall be tax resident only in Spain when any of the following circumstances exist:
a) they spend over 183 overnight stays of the calendar year in Spain, from which sporadic absences from either Spain or Gibraltar shall not be deducted,
b) their spouse (not legally separated) or partner and/or dependent ascendants or descendants reside in Spain,
c) the only permanent home at their disposal is in Spain, or
d) 2/3 of their net assets held directly or indirectly are located in Spain.

(ii) They shall be tax resident only in Spain when the above provisions are not conclusive, unless they are able to provide reliable evidence that they have a permanent home to their exclusive use in Gibraltar and remain in Gibraltar over 183 days per annum.

2- Spanish nationals who move their residency to Gibraltar after the date on which this agreement is signed shall in all cases only be considered tax residents in Spain.

3- Non-Spanish nationals who provide proof of their new residency in Gibraltar shall not lose tax residency in Spain within the tax period when the change is made and during the four subsequent years, unless they spend less than one complete tax year in Spain or are registered Gibraltarians (generally British citizens that have resided in Gibraltar for over ten years) that spend less than 4 years in Spain.

4- HNWI, Cat 2, HEPSS or any other equivalent Gibraltar tax schemes shall not by itself constitute proof of tax residency in Gibraltar.

In conclusion
You will be considered tax resident in Spain if you meet any of the conditions where you are deemed resident in Spain (183 days, family ties, permanent home, 2/3 net assets) or you cannot prove that you spend more than 183 days in Gibraltar and own a house at your exclusive disposal there, or if you are Spanish national in all cases (Spanish domestic law currently is more restrictive because nationals do not lose tax residency when moving to a tax haven in the tax period and subsequent four years).

Non-Spanish nationals who have been tax resident in Spain for more than one year and have moved to Gibraltar will be deemed tax residents in Spain for the following four years after they moved. Gibraltarians who have been resident in Spain for more than four years will continue to be resident for four years more.

The rules for Spanish nationals will come into force as of 4 March 2019 if the Treaty is formally ratified.

The rules for non-Spanish nationals will come into force for the taxable periods after the ratification date, the earliest being on 1 January 2020.

Non-Spanish nationals may use this window to consider their position.

In spite of claims for historical Spanish sovereignty over The Rock, Spain (PSOE) has recognized the existence of both a separate tax authority in Gibraltar and the existence of registered Gibraltarians. Moreover, it is proposed that once the treaty is ratified, Gibraltar should be removed from the Spanish blacklist of tax haven jurisdictions.

Source: JC&A Abagados, Marbella

Watch out for your uber-rich neighbours

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax
This article is published on: 18th May 2019

18.05.19

As the rest of the world is starting to talk more frequently about closing in on the uber-rich and making them pay more tax, Italy has gone the other way.

2 years ago Italy introduced a new ‘flat tax’ regime designed to attract the super rich into the country. Anyone can register under this regime whereby they pay a one-off payment of €100,000 per annum to the tax authorities and become resident in Italy without the requirement to declare any of their other worldwide incomes, gains or assets.

Whilst the uptake for this tax regime was slow, Italy has now started to market it more aggressively overseas and they have seen a 30% increase of requests to register, year on year, mainly from the UK (che sorpresa! The super rich are leaving the country with the threat of Brexit) along with Americans, North Europeans and Russians. They now get to keep their money and live ‘La Dolce Vita’

Providing a way out for the uber-rich has never been more popular!

New Tax Laws in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax, tax advice
This article is published on: 14th March 2019

14.03.19

If you have been reading my previous articles, you may have read about tax breaks that are in the pipeline for Italian residents.

They have been proposed by Matteo Salvini and his party La Lega. The proposals that are the most interesting from my point of view are the following:

FLAT TAX OF 7% FOR RETIREES MOVING TO ITALY

This was introduced into the ‘Legge di Bilancio 2019’. In short, anyone who moves to Italy and is in receipt of a pension income from abroad, can benefit from a flat tax of 7% on their income for a period of 5 years after becoming resident, based on the criteria that:

a) you must establish residency in one of the following regions, Sicilia, Calabria, Sardegna, Campania, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise e Puglia,

b) the town/village must have less than 20,000 registered inhabitants.

c) you must NOT have been resident in Italy in the last 5 full tax years prior to taking the offer.

d) you can opt out of the regime if you feel it does not fit your circumstances.

The idea is to re-populate the southern regions of Italy which have been decimated over the last 20 years due to lack of employment opportunities and mass migration to the large Italian cities and Northern Europe. The aim is to try and draw in foreign money and also Italians abroad who may wish to move to Italy in retirement.

CHANGES TO THE INCOME TAX BANDS

From calendar year 2020 there are proposals afoot to reduce and simplify the current income tax bands. Currently there are 5 tax bands in Italy:

On the first $15000 23%
€15001 – €28000 27%
€50,000 – €75,000 41%
+75,000% 43€

The initial proposal was to reduce the rate of taxation to 15% on the first €65000 of income and then 20% above. Whilst that has been introduced in 2019 for self employed people on a partitia IVA, the proposal on personal income has been scaled back somewhat since the initial proposals, mainly due to concerns over balancing the books. The latest proposal doing the rounds is to reduce the number of income tax bands, but the rates do not move much:

On the first €28,000 23%
€28,000 – €75,000 33%
€75,000 43%

An income of €28000 per annum gross would amount to an annual saving of €520pa.
An income of €50000 per annum gross would amount to €1620pa

These are not figures that are going to change many people’s lives in a big way, but something is better than nothing. However, all this is hypothetical at the moment as we wait to see the final proposals and implementation of the law. It is unlikely that we will know more at this point since Salvini is quite likely to force another general election this year in lieu of his gaining popularity and the demise of M5S. Since the flat tax was his proposal, if he becomes PM, then further changes could be in the pipeline. Watch this space!

So, all in all I don’t see any great game changers for you or me, but who knows. At least we have the sun, sea, mountains, food and ‘la dolce vita’.

Taxes affecting residents in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Tax
This article is published on: 13th March 2019

13.03.19

Well, before I start this article I thought I should let you know that I am now a citizen of Italy. My citizenship journey is almost over. I received confirmation that my application for cittadinanza has been approved and in their words, ‘ definitivo’.

All I can tell you is that it was all a bit of an anti-climax at the prefettura. I was hoping for a band, a hug from the chap who had administered my application and a bowl of pasta con sugo di pomodoro e basilico….nothing!

In fact, all I got was the door slammed in my face after being handed a brown envelope to take to the comune. To be fair to him I have to now book an appointment with the comune to go and do the ‘giuramento’, which means changing my carta d’identita into one for an Italian citizen, and to swear on the Italian constitution. I assume it will be a little more pomp and circumstance than the prefettura office, but I shall keep you informed. However, it is official!

I had never dreamed of getting ‘cittadinanza’ in Italy until the big ‘B’ word arrived in my life. Without wishing to get hung up on that particular subject, it has changed my life and I know many of your lives have changed as well. One of those is, of course, taxation. For many it has meant deciding between the UK and Italy for residency purposes. That has implications and I have been a long time advocate of planning your financial life before making the leap of residency into another country. Italy is a higher tax country but the burden can be reduced, or ways can be found to make sure you can enjoy ‘la dolce vita’ without getting hung up on tax matters.

What is most important is understanding, and so every year I like to run a summary of the tax laws which mainly affect us and any proposed changes. There will also be some changes for UK home owners, post Brexit, which I will touch on and the proposed changes to the existing tax rates and the potential tax incentives.

A summary of the taxes which affect most residents in Italy

The first thing you need to remember, as a fiscally** resident individual of Italy is that you are subject to taxation on your worldwide earned and non-earned income, capital gains and assets (including property). It is your job to make sure that you report these to your commercialista each year to complete your tax return. But before you do it for the first time, a financial planning exercise can come in useful.

** Fiscal residency generally means being registered as a resident at your local comune/municipio.

TAX ON INCOMES

EMPLOYMENT
If you are employed or self employed then there are multiple options available, from partita iva, partita iva regime forfettario, rientro di cervello, amongst others. I won’t go into detail here as these really need to be looked at on a case by case basis, but needless to say that there are financial planning opportunities if you are working, or intending to work in Italy. If you have any questions in this area you can contact me on gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com

PENSIONS
Most of my clients are in, or close to retirement and so understanding how your pension will be taxed as a resident in Italy is of paramount importance.

PRIVATE PENSIONS AND OCCUPATIONAL PENSIONS
If you are in receipt of a pension income and it is being paid from a private pension provider overseas / occupational pension provider or you are in receipt of a state pension / social security, then that income has to be declared on your Italian tax return. If you have paid tax already on that income then a tax credit will be given for the tax paid in the country of origin (assuming that the country has a double taxation agreement with Italy), but any difference between the tax rates in the country of origin and Italy will have to be paid.

I often hear stories of people who are told by their commercialista that their state pension / social security pension is not taxable in Italy. This is absolutely NOT the case. The UK state pension, as an example, is 100% taxable in Italy as is US social security. It is not excluded from the double taxation treaties and therefore must be declared in Italy. Failure to declare could mean fines and penalties.

GOVERNMENT DERIVED PENSIONS
It is a good idea to define what is meant by government paid pensions. The definition according to the Italy/UK double taxation convention1988 is, paid from:

” a political or an administrative subdivision or a local authority”

This generally means civil servants of any kind and foreign office employees but would also include teachers, NHS workers, military personnel, police men and women, fire service etc. In these cases, the pension awarded is taxable only in the state in which it originates, and tax is generally deducted at source in that country of origin.

But there are some tax idiosyncrasies to look out for here. On the positive side, this income is not taken into account when calculating the tax on your other income sources in Italy, e.g. rental income, and it is not declared on your tax declaration in Italy.

On the negative side, for those of you who are thinking of becoming citizens of Italy, these pensions are only taxed in the state of origin UNLESS you become a citizen of Italy and then they are taxable in Italy as well. So for anyone thinking about cittadinanza, plan before you leap!

INVESTMENT INCOME AND CAPITAL GAINS
As of 1st January 2017, interest from savings, income from investments in the form of dividends and other non-earned income payments stands unchanged at a flat tax rate of 26%. Realised capital gains are also taxed at the same rate of 26%.

(Interest from Italian Government Bonds and Government Bonds from ‘white list’ countries are still taxed at 12.5% rather than 26%, as detailed above. This is another quirk of Italian tax law as this means that you pay less tax as a holder of Government Bonds in Pakistan or Kazakhstan, than a holder of Corporate Bonds from Italian giants ENI or FIAT).

PROPERTY OVERSEAS
Property which is located overseas is taxed in 2 ways. Firstly, there is the tax on the income and, secondly, a tax on the value of the property itself.

1. The income from property overseas.

Overseas net property income (after allowable expenses in the country in which is located) is added to your other income for the year and taxed at your highest marginal rate of income tax.

Where many properties are generating all your income, this can prove to be a tax INEFFICIENT income-stream for residents in Italy. It is better to have a diversified income stream, pensions, investments and property, to maximise tax planning opportunities and allow you to redirect income from the most tax efficient source at any one time. Relying solely on one type of asset for income in retirement is generally not a good idea.

2. The other tax is on the value of the property itself, which is 0.76% of the value. (IVIE)

A) Value must be defined in this instance. For properties based in the EU, the value is the Italian cadastral equivalent. In the UK that would be the council tax value NOT the market value. You will find that the market value will, in most cases, be significantly more than the cadastral equivalent value.

B) In properties located outside the EU the value for tax purposes is defined as the purchase price or value at time of ownership, where this can be evidenced, otherwise the value of the property is defined as the current market value.

** BREXIT TAX CHANGE** Once the UK leaves the EU the definition of value of the property will change as per the explanations above. This will affect any UK national living in Italy, who owns property in the UK post Brexit, and depending on your circumstances you could find yourself paying more or less in taxation on the property.

DISPOSAL OF UK PROPERTY
If you are thinking about moving to Italy and are looking to dispose of second properties in the UK before the move, then you may be entitled to take advantage of a tax break. If you have owned the UK property for more than 5 full tax years then it is no longer deemed a speculative transaction and you will not be capital gains tax liable, as a resident in Italy, on the disposal.

However, you may also qualify for a tax break in the UK as well, because although non-UK residents are liable to taxation on the disposal of UK property, the purchase price of the property is taken at the point at which the legislation was introduced: 6th April 2015 or later, if applicable. So if you have owned the property for a long time and seen some large capital gains, you could dispose of the property and benefit from a largely reduced tax rate as a result of this cross border financial planning loophole.

TAXES ON ASSETS
1. Banks accounts and deposits
A very simple to understand and acceptable €34.20 per annum is applied to each current account you own. This includes fixed deposits, short term cash deposits, CD’s etc. The charge is the equivalent of the ‘imposta da bollo’ which is applied to all Italian deposit accounts each year.

2. Other financial assets
Lastly, we have the charge on other foreign-owned assets (IVAFE). This covers shares, bonds, funds, portfolio assets, gold holdings, art, classic cars etc or most other types of assets that you may hold. The tax on these is 0.2% per annum based on the valuation as of 31st December each year.

Also, remember that if you have a portfolio of managed assets that are NOT held in a suitably compliant Italian investment bond, then all the separate funds/shares/assets are considered “individual” and MUST be reported individually on your tax return each year. That also includes reconciling any income payments that have been made and also any capital gains that have been realised. A reference to the Banca D’Italia EUR/GBP or USD exchange must be made for each transaction on the correct date.

French Tax Changes 2019

By Sue Regan - Topics: Assurance Vie, France, Income Tax, Tax, tax advice, Tax Relief
This article is published on: 31st January 2019

31.01.19

2019 has brought a number of changes to the French tax system. Below is a summary of the principal changes affecting personal taxation.

INCOME TAX (Impôt sur le Revenu)
There has been no change to the rates of income tax of the barème scale, but the tax bands have been increased as follows:

Income Tax Rate
Up to €9,964 0%
€9,965 to €27,519 14%
€27,520 to €73,779 30%
€73,780 to €156,244 41%
€156,245 and over 45%

PAYE (Prélèvement à la Source)
PAYE has been introduced in France with effect from 1st January 2019.
The types of income subject to PAYE include:

  • Income from employment
  • Retirement income, including UK private and State pensions, but excluding certain pensions where tax is already deducted at source, such as UK Civil Service pensions
  • Rental income, including that from French properties owned by people who are not resident in France.

For French source income, the employer or pension provider will deduct the tax at source.

Clearly, where income is generated from outside of France there can be no deduction at source by the French authorities. This means that many expatriates living in France will be subject to a monthly withholding tax on their income. Therefore, starting in January 2019, the tax authorities will collect a sum equal to 1/12th of the tax paid in 2018 (based on income declared for 2017).

Excluded from PAYE is investment income, such as bank interest, dividends, capital gains and gains from life assurance policies.

New residents of France who have not yet submitted a French tax return, will have the option of paying a sum ‘on account’, or be taxed in May 2020, following submission of their first tax return.

Everyone will still be required to submit a French tax return in the May of the following year. Thereafter, the final assessment of tax liability will be carried out, and you will either receive a tax refund or be required to pay any additional tax due, over a four-month period.

If you do not currently pay any income tax, you will not be required to pay provisional monthly payments. Similarly, if you anticipate a significant change to your income during the course of the year you can request that the tax authority alter your tax code. However, if you do so, and your income is 10% greater than advised, you could face a tax penalty of at least 10%.

REFORM OF SOCIAL CHARGES (Prélèvements Sociaux)
Some changes have been introduced to certain social charges, which is good news for some taxpayers.

The main rates for social charges remain the same as for 2018, i.e.:

Source of income Rate
Pension 9.1%
Investment and property rental 17.2%
Employment 9.7%

 

Social Charges on Pension Income
The exemption from social charges on pension income still applies if you hold the EU S1 Certificate or if France is not responsible for the cost of your healthcare.

However, those pensioners who do not satisfy the exemption conditions above, but whose pension income is less than €2,000 per month (or €3,000 for a couple), will now pay a lower rate of 7.4% on pension income.

Social Charges on Investment Income and Capital Gains
From 1st January 2019, individuals covered under the health care system of another EU or EEA country are no longer subject to the existing rate of 17.2% on investment income or capital gains. Instead they will now pay a new flat rate of 7.5%. This new flat rate is known as the ‘Prélèvement de Solidarité’ and represents a saving of 9.7%. It applies to investment income, such as property rentals, bank interest, dividends and withdrawals from ‘assurance vie’ policies, and capital gains realised by both residents and non-residents of France.

In summary, taxpayers can benefit from the new 7.5% rate on investment income if:

  • They hold the EU S1 Certificate
  • They are a non-resident of France earning French source income (i.e. rental income, capital gains on the sale of a French property, etc) and are covered by the health system of another EU or EEA country

ASSURANCE VIE
There are no changes to ‘assurance vie’ apart from the social charges reform detailed above which will benefit some policyholders.
For policies held for more than eight years, the annual allowance remains at €4,600 for individuals and €9,200 for married/PACS couples.

This outline is provided for information purposes only based on our understanding of current French tax law. 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.

If you would like to discuss how these changes may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact your local Spectrum IFA Group adviser.

The Gift of Giving

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: France, Tax, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 19th October 2018

19.10.18

In my family, there are a lot of birthdays at the end of the year and before you know it Christmas is upon us. With only limited space for physical gifts like clothes or toys, sometimes cash gifts or contributions to the children’s savings plans are more than welcome! But how much can you give your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces? As we will see, whilst the rules on official gifts and inheritance allowances are very clear, there seems to be much more flexibility on smaller gifts for special occasions.

Gifts from a UK resident to a French resident – UK tax applies
If you receive gifts from a UK resident, such gifts are generally subject to UK tax rules. However, if the recipient has lived in France for at least six of the ten tax years preceding the year in which the gift is received, French tax rules will apply. Inheritances are covered by the Double Tax Treaty between France and the UK but gifts are not. Inheritances are not taxable even if the recipient has been living in France for more than six years. If a double tax situation were to arise then the tax paid in the UK would be deducted from any tax payable in France. French tax is also payable if a UK resident gifts an asset that is situated in France.

A gift is defined as anything that has a value, such as money, property, possessions. If a person were to sell their house to a child, for less than its market value, then the difference in value would count as a gift.
Gifts to exempt beneficiaries are not subject to Inheritance Tax. These include:

  • Between husband, wife or civil partner, provided that they reside permanently in the UK
  • Registered UK charities (a list is available on the gov.uk website)
  • Some national organisations, such as universities, museums and the National Trust

HMRC also allows an annual exemption of £3,000 worth of gifts to people other than exempt beneficiaries each tax year (6 April to 5 April), without them being added to the value of the estate. Any unused annual exemptions may be carried forward to the next year, but only for one year.

Each tax year, a UK tax resident may also give:

  • Cash gifts for weddings or civil ceremonies of up to £1,000 per person (£2,500 for a grandchild or great-grandchild, £5,000 for a child)
  • Normal gifts out of their income, for example Christmas or birthday presents, provided that they are able to maintain their standard of living after making the gift
  • Payments to help with another person’s living costs, such as an elderly relative or a child under 18
  • Gifts to charities and political parties

These exemptions may be cumulated, so a grandchild/nephew/niece could receive a gift for their wedding and their birthday in the same tax year. However, if the wedding or civil partnership is cancelled, the gift for this event will no longer be exempt from Inheritance Tax.

There is an unlimited amount of small gifts allowance of up to £250 per person during the tax year provided that the person making the gift hasn’t used up another exemption on the same person (such as the £3,000 annual exemption limit).

In the UK, Inheritance Tax is payable (at 40%) on gifts made in the 3 years before the donor’s death. Any gifts given between 3 to 7 years before death are taxed on a sliding scale known as ‘taper relief’. Gifts given more than 7 years before death are not counted towards the value of the estate. Inheritance tax will apply if the gift is more than £325,000 in the 7 years before the donor’s death.

Gifts from a French resident to another French resident or to a UK resident – French gift tax rules apply
In France, the Inheritance Tax allowances are not as generous as in the UK. The tax relief on gifts is the same as for inheritance tax and depends on the relationship between the donor and beneficiary. A parent may only give their child up to €100,000 tax free, a grandparent only €31,865 to a grandchild, brothers and sisters may receive €15,932, nephews and nieces € 7,967 and great-grandchildren €5,310.

There is no inheritance tax between married couples or those in a civil partnership, however, for gifts made during a person’s lifetime the maximum amount allowed is €80,724.
Gifts made to disabled persons, subject to certain conditions, have an additional exemption of €159,325 per person irrespective of the relationship between the donor and the disabled person. This exemption is in addition to the normal exemptions above.

These exemptions for gift tax (or ‘droits de donation’) may be used several times over during one’s lifetime, provided that there is a 15-year gap between each gift.
As in the UK, financial support given to a child/ex-spouse/dependent relative on a monthly/annual basis is not considered as a gift in French law, but rather as a family duty. Such support, or ‘pension alimentaire’ as it is called in French, is tax deductible for the donor but must be declared as income by the recipient.

A gift (called ‘don’ in French) may be a physical object, a house or property or intangible gifts like shares or intellectual property rights. If the gift is a house or property, a notary will be required, and he/she will make sure that the proper gift tax declarations are filed. The transfer of property must take place immediately and once given is irrevocable.

Cash gifts, (‘don manuel’ in French) – made by hand, cheque or bank transfer – are subject to different rules. A cash gift of €31,865, may be given to a child, grandchild, great-grandchild or, if there are none such, to nephews, nieces, or if the nephews and nieces have died to their children or representatives. The donor must, however, be less than 80 years old and the beneficiary must be over 18 years old on the day the gift is made. This exemption is also subject to the 15-year rule and is in addition to the Inheritance Tax allowances mentioned above.

The cash gift allowance and the normal gift allowances may be cumulated as long as they do not exceed the legal maximum amounts. So for example, provided that in all cases the donor is not yet 80 years old and the beneficiary is over 18; a mother or a father can give their child a total amount of €131,865; a grandparent can give an adult grandchild a total amount of €63 730 (€31,865 + €31,865); a great-grandparent can give an adult great-grandchild a total amount of €37,175 (€31,865 + €5,310) and an aunt or an uncle can give a nephew or niece a sum of €39,832 (€31,865 + €7,967).

Such cash gifts must be declared to the tax office the month after they are made. Cash gifts (above these exemptions) are taxable if they are discovered by the tax authorities during a routine enquiry by letter or during an official tax inspection. When the beneficiary declares the gift to the tax office of his/her own accord, they must pay the relevant amount of tax. If the value of the gift is over €15,000 it may be declared and any tax paid in the month after the donor’s death.

The French have another type of gift called ‘Présent d’usage’ which is a gift for normal ordinary life events like weddings, birthdays, graduations, baptisms etc. Such gifts are not considered taxable gifts provided that they are given on or around a special event/occasion and that they are not disproportionate given the level of income and assets of the donor.

There is no law which defines the exact amount of these gifts so each is considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Cour de Cassation ruled that a gift of €20,000 from a husband to his wife was a ‘present d’usage’ as it was given for her birthday and by way of a loan taken out by the husband. The monthly payments on the loan were less than 20% of his net income.

Such gifts are not subject to French gift tax and are not included in the donor’s estate.

So now that you are aware of the rules in both countries you may give or receive gifts knowing exactly what needs to be declared. However, the use of gift tax allowances as a tax planning strategy is something which should only be considered after taking proper advice from a qualified independent financial adviser specialised in cross-border matters.

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

By Tony Delvalle - Topics: France, Property, Tax, UK property
This article is published on: 17th September 2018

17.09.18

Some UK solicitors have failed to inform clients of changes in UK legislation from April 2015, resulting in unexpected late payment penalties from HMRC for failure to complete a form following the sale of their UK property.

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.

Since 6th April 2015, any gains are subject to CGT for non-UK residents. The rate of CGT for non-residents on residential property is, as for UK residents, determined by taxable UK income i.e. 18% basic rate band and 28% above, charged only the gain.

Reporting the gain and paying the tax
You must fill out a Non-Resident Capital Gains Tax (NRCGT) return online and inform HMRC within 30 days of completing the sale.

Those who do not ordinarily file a UK tax return must pay the liability within 30 days. Once you have notified HMRC that the sale has taken place, a reference number is given to make payment.

As a French resident you must also declare to the French tax authority.

The Double Taxation Treaty between the UK and France means that you will not be taxed twice as you will be given a tax credit for any UK CGT paid, but you will be liable to French social charges on any gain.

There is little to mitigate French tax 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 unnecessary taxes in the future.

One easy way is by using a life assurance policy, a Contrat d’Assurance Vie, which 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. This type of investment is also highly efficient for Inheritance planning, as it is considered to be outside of your estate for inheritance purposes and you are free to name whoever and as many beneficiaries as you wish.

Should I make a tax return? If so, why?

By Peter Brooke - Topics: France, Tax, tax advice, tax tips, Yachting
This article is published on: 16th June 2018

16.06.18

By Peter Brooke & Patrick Maflin of Marine Accounts

Understanding tax liability is still a big issue for yacht crew; in fact, the confusion mainly comes from the lack of clarity about being “Resident” or “Non-Resident” somewhere. Many crew members are still putting their heads in the sand and ignoring this issue; in our humble opinion this needs a cross-industry culture change, as the repercussions for continuing to ignore tax are becoming more onerous and punitive.

So why should I bother declaring my income?
• You will avoid massive penalties, fees and interest on the taxes that you ‘might’ owe should you be investigated later.
• Your info is out there: The Automatic Exchange of Information means that all your financial information is already being shared between governments.
• Common Reporting Standards: All financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, and investment firms are required, by law, to attain, keep and share residency information for all account holders.
• I want a mortgage: Most lenders now require proof of earnings in the form of tax returns.
• I live on a yacht and so am not resident anywhere! Does your home authority agree with your assessment of your situation? Get it in writing!

On this last point, it is a huge misconception that just because you believe that you aren’t resident somewhere, the tax authorities will not be interested in you. The onus is firmly on the individual to prove non-residency, not on the authorities to prove residency. If you can’t present a convincing case, it is highly likely that the tax authority with which you have that link will deem you to be a resident. If you haven’t declared your income to them voluntarily, they will look less favourably at your situation and can apply significant fines and interest.

So where should I declare?
If in doubt look at it in this order:
1. Time spent – if you spend time ashore where are you spending it? Keep a diary/spreadsheet of EVERY day.
2. Assets – where is most of your wealth kept?
3. Family – do you have major links to a certain country (especially important if you have children)?
4. Nationality – if you are not resident in a country due to time spent, assets or family links it is likely you should be declaring your income to your ‘home’ authority – i.e. where you are from originally.

Don’t wait to be called upon by any ‘linked jurisdictions’, be proactive, understand the tax residency rules of all of these ‘linked jurisdictions’ and voluntarily declare to the most strongly linked one. It will help you sleep at night and could save thousands in fees and interest, as well as avoid black marks on your record.

This article is for information only and should not be considered as advice. Marine Accounts assist crew with tax residency in many jurisdictions.

Peter Brooke is a financial adviser to the yachting community with the Spectrum IFA Group. Spectrum has created HORIZONS, a unique financial solution just for yachts and their crew at
www.my-Horizons.com or contact@my-horizons.com or peter.brooke@spectrum-ifa.com

Tax threat: the consequences of CRS – The Spanish Situation

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: spain, Tax
This article is published on: 14th June 2018

14.06.18

Unlike the UK non-dom or the Portuguese non-habituale tax rules, Spain does not have a specific tax offereing for those planning to come and live in Spain. A taxpayer is either classifieds as resident (taxed on worldwide income and wealth) or non-resident (taxed only on Spanish income and assets).

Those trying to escape from the 183-days rule of physical presence in Spain to avoid been deemed tax resident could be facing an unexpected problem.  

Governments all over the World have amended their domestic legislation over the last few years aimed at gathering as much information as possible from current and potential taxpayers and Spain is no exception. Governments have also signed agreements to exchange that information with each other and to disclose relevant data, primarily under the auspices of fighting money laundering and terrorism. Lately, this has had a direct impact on individuals and corporate taxation.

All these changes and improvements equally affect big corporations, large stockholders, important CEOs and ordinary people. Regrettably, the speed and frequency at which those changes take place makes it difficult for ordinary people to keep up and stay up to date with their obligations. Pensioners living abroad are a group particularly affected.

In our experience, we know many people who were just “out of the loop” by ignorance, going about their daily lives without being aware of how all these changes affect them. One of these new rules is the OECD´S COMMON REPORTING STANDARD (CRS).

As of 1 January 2016, Spain fully adopted the provision of the Council Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and the OECD CRS for the automatic exchange of financial account information.

Under the CRS and EU Directive, financial institutions in participating jurisdictions will report the full name and address, jurisdiction of tax residence, tax identification numbers and financial information of individual clients to their local tax authorities, which will then automatically exchange the data with the tax authorities of the participating countries where the individuals are tax resident.

Spain is one of the 102 committed jurisdictions and the list also includes traditional off-shore jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. As of 5 April 2018, there are now already over 2700 bilateral exchange relationships activated with respect to 80 jurisdictions committed to the CRS. This link shows all bilateral exchange relationships that are currently in place for the automatic exchange of CRS:

www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/international-framework-for-the-crs/exchange-relationships/#d.en.345426

Financial institutions in all participating jurisdictions will be obliged to ascertain and verify the tax residence status of their individual clients by application of specific due diligence procedures under the CRS.

The automatic exchange of information related to financial accounts held by the end of year 2015 and new ones opened afterwards began in 2017. Hence, sooner or later, in cases where there was information exchanged that did not match the information provided by the taxpayer in their declarations and tax returns, people started to receive notifications from the tax office.

Those who have not been registered as resident or have not realized that they should have registered as resident, could be in trouble when the Spanish tax authorities receive information about a supposedly resident taxpayer. This information is gathered by the due diligence process that banks and financial institutions, including trustees, have to carry out. In some cases this can lead to the conclusion that they are resident in Spain (i.e., the postal address to where Banks send correspondence, the bank account to where they regularly transfer funds, the country where credit cards are frequently used, etc.). Spanish tax residents who have not fully disclosed their foreign portfolios to the Spanish tax authorities may encounter trouble as well. Full voluntary disclosure by means of late filings could avoid potential tax fraud penalties.

It is crucial to check with your banks, financial agents, trustees, etc. if they have reported anything to a wrong country. Once the information gets to the tax authorities, those authorities will not doubt or care if the information is accurate or not, even if you try to prove otherwise, because the information has been provided by a Government of another country and it is understood that they, as well as the bank or financial entity who has previously reported to that Government, have complied with the regulations. In our experience, at least in Spain, if information provided by a Bank was not accurate, that Bank would have to amend whatever they had previously reported to their Government. Thus in turn it will amend the information sent to the Spanish tax authorities. The taxman will not stop demanding the taxpayer to pay the corresponding taxes unless the Government of the other country recognizes that it was a mistake.

Source: Santiago Lapausa of JC&A Abagados, Marbella

All this talk of a flat tax

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Income Tax, Italy, Retirement, Tax, tax advice, Tax Relief
This article is published on: 8th June 2018

08.06.18

The current political environment in Italy is one which I find very interesting, notably in how it is perceived in foreign media and presented to us through the usual media outlets. In particular, I reference the constant use of the word ‘Populism’ and ‘Populist Government’. I confess that I had to have a quick look at the definition of populism before writing this Ezine and was interested in finding out that the exact defintion, according to Wikipedia, is:

‘Populism is a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against a privileged elite’

I have a confession to make that if I can pick and choose only this broad defintion of Populism then I think I can fit myself into a part of the populist ideal. (Clearly it is more complicated than this but I am merely trying to make my point, and as a regular reader of my E-zine’s you will understand my usual approach!)

However, I think it is worth exploring the idea that the Lega and M5S coalition have put together of a flat tax. Although a flat tax for eveyone, no matter how rich or poor is completely obscene in my opinion the ‘flat tax’, proposals, which will launch at 20% for businesses as of July 1st 2018 and 15% – 20% on 1st Jan 2019 for individuals, assuming the Government holds together, actually make a lot of sense to me.

A radical reform of the Italian income tax system is about to take place, and one which is long overdue in my opinion. Not for any populist reasons, but for more practical reasons which I will expand on below.

The proposed flat tax regime
If you want to have a look at the Contratto per il Governo di Cambiamento, then you can do so HERE. It makes interesting reading, if not full of more blurb than actual facts at this stage. However, its a start.

So, going back to the issue of the flat tax. The proposal, soon to be put into force, is to reform the tax regime into 2 flat tax rates, namely 15% and 20%. This sounds very new and certainly will win a lot of those populist votes. But first let’s take a look at how income is currently spread in Italy and the following chart shows just who it would affect:

It’s quite interesting to note from this chart that 80% of the tax paying population of Italy earn up to €29000. The median declared income is €19000pa. Those may sound strange numbers but when you consider the current Italian tax rates (see chart below), you can start to form an idea that there is probably a little bit of fiddling of the figures. After €28000pa in reddito complessivo the tax rate jumps from 27% to 38%. With this in mind, the proposal of a flat tax could potentially bring in alot of, currently, undisclosed (let’s call it what it really is: ‘in nero’) money to the Government coffers.

A QUICK REMINDER OF ITALIAN INCOME TAX RATES
(IRPEF – Imposte sul reddito delle persona)

€0 – €15000  = 23%
€15000- €28000  = 27% (€3450 + 27% on the part over €15000)
€28000 – €55000  = 38% (€6960 + 38% on the part over €28000)
€55000 – €75000  = 41% (€17220 + 41% on the part over €55000)
over €75000  = 43% (€25420 + 43% on the over €75000)

How might it work in practice?
The new proposal is to have a flat tax of 15% on a combined ‘reddito famigliare’ of upto €80,000pa. If your ‘reddito famigliare’ is above €80,000pa then the flat tax rises to 20%.
A proposed maximum tax of €3000 would apply for every member of the family where they have a individual ‘redditto complessivo’ of no more than €35000pa. This would be limited to families where the ‘redditto famigliare’ is between €35,000- €50,000 pa.

In short, the most generous tax deductions are for those who have a ‘redditto famigliare’ between €40000 and €60000pa.

A straniero example……
This all sounds very exciting and some what overly generous for a country which has historically taxed its citizens up to the eyeballs. However, let’s use an average straniero example to see what difference it would make.

Let’s assume that we have a retired couple, with state pensions (€8000pa each) and private pensions of €18000 and €3000 respectively. They also own a property in their home country which generates a UK income of €8000pa (jointly owned). They have investments and savings, but for the purposes of this example they are not relevant as the proposed measures are for income tax only.

Under the current regime the income of each individual would be subject to taxation.

Spouse 1: €8000 + €3000 + €4000= Total €15000pa The tax rate applicable would be 23% therefore the tax would be €3450

For the purposes of this example I am not including any benefits, or credits that might be avaiable to any one individual or another

Spouse 2: €8000 + €18000 + €4000 = €30000pa Spouse 2 exceeds both band 1 and 2 and will enter the higher rate tax bracket creating a taxable liability of €7720

THE TOTAL INCOME TAX BILL WOULD BE: € 11170 per annum

Under the new proposals both spouse 1 and spouse 2 would pay a flat tax of 15% on their combined income , meaning a total tax bill of €6750

A SAVING OF €4420pa

Let’s take a breath and calm down for a moment
So, before we all start getting very excited we all know the Italian Government is not the most coherent at the best of times and we are in an unprecedented era. It may be that this proposal is watered down yet and we get a half way house offer, but I expect that simplification and lower tax rates are on the cards. In the end the country still has to balance the books and attract foreign investment. If they don’t have enough money coming into the Government coffers to keep the system running smoothly (for lack of a better word :0)) then the money will soon dry up and punitive tax rates will have to be imposed to reap that which has been lost.

My soap box moment
And so I move onto my favouritie part of this E-zine. My soap box moment. You see, I have been wanting to write this formally for a long time but never really had the opportunity to do so. I would go on record as saying that I am actually in favour of this radical overhaul of the Italian tax system and whilst I see this proposed flat tax regime as being a little unequally distributed, I do think its necessary and despite what the bankers, economists and bureaucrats tell us, I actually think it would be a good thing for Italy.

The entrepreneurial zone
I have always waxed lyrical that, what I like to call the entrepreneurial zone, in Italy, is completely dead. Any good economics book will tell you that 80% of employment and growth in a society comes from small to medium sized businesses. That is the shop that opens and gets so many customers that they need to employ a young person to manage the business in the mornings, or a new online business which grows rapidly and needs to employ 5 new people to manage operations. It’s worth repeating that 80% of growth in an economy and job growth comes from this area. Not the Vodafone’s of this world or the multitude of other multinational businesses that pop up on the high street. It’s the small businesses and one man bands that grow into medium sized firms that cumulatively turn over billions in revenue each year. This is real growth. And this is what Conte ( the new Prime Minister) talked about in his first address to Parliament when he said that he wanted Italy to grow its way out of debt and not have to impose more austerity. He is absolutely right. The economics speak for themselves.

Which brings me back to the entrepreneurial zone. This is the area which I think is the most important. To take a business from nothing: an idea, a start up, to revenue of €50,000 each year and onto €250,000 each year you need incentive. It is in the Governments’ interest to incentivize you because you are going to employ the people and pay the taxes that will contribute towards 80% of the running of that country. And from there you may have the skills to turn that business in a multi million euro revenue business employing hundreds of people and contributing back even more into the running of the society. The problem with Italy is that after €28000pa in revenue they effectively chop you off at the knees (the tax rates rise astronomically + there is the dreaded social security contributions to pay. INPS) and let you see if you can hobble along and survive whilst they come running after you to chop off your arms, and then take the rest. It’s like being chased by a mad axe man without your legs and seeing if you can hobble faster than he can catch up with you before he hacks the rest off. It just doesn’t work. In my opinion, this is one of the main problems in Italy and why I think both Di Maio and Salvini have got the right idea when it comes to taxation. (The rest of their policies are open to debate, although some of those also have a lot of merit!)).

I am reminded of the conversations I regularly have with clients who recount stories of their children who set up businesses in Italy and either struggle on barely being able to keep the businesses afloat and or eventually closing down. A young business needs all the revenue it can get in that ‘ entrepreneurial zone’, that area between €0 and €100,000 pa. If a business is going well most of that income is going to be re-invested anyway and used to employ people or purchase goods and services. Europe has to support Italy at this time and allow that zone to flourish and provide opportunities to young and old entrepreneurs alike.

So who is responsible for change
There is always a counter argument for every case and clearly in this case, given the cultural back drop to Italy’s tax collection issues there will be economists who will argue that if income tax revenue were to drop drastically by lowering rates so much then how will Italy, ‘The State’, balance its books, after all there is nothing to say that people will suddenly start declaring all their income because the tax rate is more favourable. That is why the proposed tax regime has to be followed by some hardline clampdowns on tax evasion. Otherwise, it just won’t work.

I am going to follow these proposals closely, and feed back to you, to keep you abreast of any legislation changes. (Watch out for the summer months as they like to slip new laws in whilst everyone is on holiday). I am completely in favour of a total overhaul of the Italian tax system and dispute what the media, economists, and supposed experts say (I sound like a Brexiteer). I think drastically cutting tax rates in Italy, whilst having a short term impact on Government revenue would attract foreign investment in droves ( I mean if you had the chance to set up a factory in Huddersfield or one in Umbria, which would you choose?), it could increase investment rapidly, create jobs, create subsidiary businesses servicing the bigger ones, incentivize larger business to relocate because of the tax rates and could create a new economic boom for Italy. That being said, if it isn’t put into place with some heavy Governmental supervision then it could all fall apart and Italy’s days in Europe would be numbered. And therein seems to be the folly of the whole idea. Europe, whilst I love the European project dearly, has not treated countries like Italy favourably and should it continue on its current path without allowing any kind of change and only implementing austerity, then the likelihood is that Italy would eventually decide to Italexit.

Government has to lead
Italy, like any government around the world has to take the lead in forcing through sensible change. The young business people I know who are barely making ends meet are never going to fully declare every euro they earn when they have families to feed, medical treatments to take care of and childrens schooling costs to pay. And given the choice of making a ‘few’ euros ‘in nero’ and being able to look after the family versus paying into a corrupt state which merely extracts the money from you by osmosis for its own nefarious means, the choice is simple. Most families, if not all, will take that risk. They just have to. Or they move abroad!

So I am in favour of Di Maio and Salvini’s tax plans. I hope they manage to find a solution that will help everyone, mainly the poor and the entrepreneurs who want to prosper but don’t have the ability to do so because of draconian tax measures which should have been ditched long ago. It won’t be an easy ride, but I hope it’s a success. And in the end, should it pay off it may just keep Europe together. Can you imagine Di Maio and Salvini going down in the history books as the saviours of Europe!

(You don’t need to write to tell me that my artistic licence has been abused in this article, just enjoy and let’s see what happens. I, for one, am moderately positive about the future if they can bring about positive change in the tax system in the way in which they are proposing to do).

Given the proposed changes in taxes in Italy, it will be an important time to take a look at your own tax and financial planning arrangements and make sure that they are as tax efficient as possible.