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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com