Managing Dual Tax Residency as an Expat

Daniel Wilkie   |   11 Jul 2023   |   10 min read

When you live and work solely in one country, tax residency is straightforward. However, if you are living away from your home country or living between multiple countries, then determining tax residency is complicated.

One of the difficulties in determining tax residency is that the laws applied to residency differ in each country. This means you may simultaneously meet the residency requirements in multiple countries within a given tax period. Alternatively, if you live a particularly transitory life, it may be difficult to identify primary residency.

Note that tax residency is different to citizenship or visa residency. This article discusses what you need to know about tax residency.

Why Residency Matters

As each country has their own rules for taxation, it is important to know which country has taxation rights over you as an individual resident. This is why residency is such a foundational concept.

Being a tax resident of multiple countries has potential implications on how your worldwide income is taxed. Generally, your country of residence has primary taxing rights over your income. It also raises double taxation concerns, with competing tax jurisdictions aiming to potentially tax the same income. As countries sometimes tax the same income, a dual tax resident could face significant tax consequences. For this reason, tax treaties between countries exist to help resolve conflicting taxation rights, including determining tax residency.

As this can be a particularly complex issue it is important to ensure that you consult with qualified tax professionals who are familiar with the tax laws of each country. The following information provides a general overview of the potential tax consequences of being a tax resident in multiple countries.

Taxation Rights

Once residency is determined, your country of residence will have the primary taxing rights. Income that is taxable from other sources will be taxed as income earned by a non-resident.

Double Tax Agreements (DTAs) between countries cover a range of factors to help mitigate double taxation issues, including who has primary taxing rights of specific types of income and can include limitations on the taxing rights of the country where the taxpayer is a non-resident.

For countries that tax on a territorial basis, the country of residence might only legislate taxation over income derived from the country of residence, or foreign income that is remitted into the country.

However, countries that tax on a worldwide basis assess all income earned by the individual, regardless of the source of income.

In either case, DTAs, and other tax relief provisions help alleviate the impact of being taxed in multiple countries. This typically means that when you pay foreign tax on foreign sourced income, your country of residence will count this tax towards the tax they assess on this income.

Tax Residency

As each country has its own rules for determining residency, your first step is working out whether you are a resident in each country that you are connected to. To give an example of how this works we consider the tax residency rules of Australia, Singapore, the USA and the UK.

Tax Residency In Australia

How Residency Is Determined

There are a number of tests used to determine residency in Australia, which are essentially designed to determine whether Australia is your home. This means that you are an Australian tax resident if you reside in Australia, or intend to reside in Australia for a significant period of time, and you have a permanent home there.

If you are an Australian permanent resident who is living and working overseas on a temporary basis, you may still be considered a tax resident of  Australia. If you have not established a permanent place of abode outside Australia, then your Australian tax residency will continue. A permanent place of abode is a place where you live and consider your home. This means you may still be considered an Australian tax resident even if you are not physically present in Australia for a given tax year. Individuals who are not Australian citizens may also remain Australian tax residents if they travel overseas for short periods of time, while maintaining their home in Australia.

In an income tax year where you become or cease being a resident you will be considered a part-year tax resident.

Income Taxes as a Resident

Australian tax residents are assessed on worldwide income. This includes all forms of income including capital gains.

Tax Residency In Singapore

How Residency Is Determined

In Singapore you are a tax resident when you are physically present in Singapore for at least 183 days in a calendar year.

Income Taxes as a Resident

Singapore tax residents are typically only required to pay tax on Singapore sourced income, or foreign income that is brought into Singapore. Singapore does not tax capital gains.

Tax Residency In The USA

How Residency Is Determined

In the USA, all US citizens and dual citizens are required to lodge a tax return to declare their worldwide income, regardless of their tax residency.

Non-citizens are tax residents if they hold a Green Card that legally allows permanent residency.

Tax residency is determined by a physical presence test. This test requires physical presence in the USA for at least 31 days in the relevant calendar year, after being present for a specific number of days totalling at least 183 days over the preceding two years.

Income Taxes as a Resident

Both citizens and tax residents of the USA are taxed on their worldwide income. Citizens are taxed on worldwide income even if they no longer reside in the US and do not meet the residency test. There are some foreign earning exclusions for individuals who meet specific requirements.

Tax Residency In The UK

How Residency Is Determined

In the UK you are a tax resident under the Statutory Residence Test. This test considers a range of factors including the number of days you are present in the UK, your connections to the country, and other relevant criteria.

The UK has an automatic overseas test. This means if you spend less than 16 days in the UK (or less than 46 days if you have not been a UK resident for the previous 3 tax years), or you are working abroad full-time and spend less than 91 days in the UK, then you are a non-resident.

There are three automatic resident tests:

  1. You are present in the UK for at least 183 days.
  2. Your only home is in the UK for at least 91 days in a row, and you visited or stayed for at least 30 days in the tax year.
  3.  You worked full time in the UK for any period of 365 days and at least one of those days falls in the tax year you’re checking.

Where you do not meet either automatic test the “sufficient ties test” will determine if you are a resident. This test considers your UK connections, including family, accommodation, work, and physical presence, over a number of years.

Income Taxes as a Resident

UK tax residents are taxed on their worldwide income. However, non-UK sourced income may be exempt from UK taxation in certain circumstances.

Dual Residency

As can be seen from the various residency tests of just these four countries, there is variety in how residency is determined and the tax implications this could lead to. Given the variation in tests, you could easily be considered a resident of multiple countries over a single tax year.

When an individual is a tax resident in multiple countries the next step is to determine if there are tie breaker rules contained in a DTA. These rules provide guidance on determining an individual’s primary place of residence.

Residency Tie Breaker Rules

Most countries adopt the Mutual Agreement Procedure, specifically Article 4 of the OECD Model Tax Convention, to resolve dual residence situations. Accordingly, there is a fairly standard set of tie breaker rules across various DTAs. These tiebreaker rules are outlined as follows:

  1. Permanent Home – Where you have a permanent home in one country but not the other, you will be a resident of the country where your home is located.
  2. Centre of Vital Interests – The country in which you have closer personal and economic connections will be your country of residence. This may include family and personal ties, social and economic activities such as work and club memberships, and where you keep your main assets.
  3. Habitual Above – Where neither of the previous tests assist, the country where you regularly abide or reside in will be your country of residence.
  4. Nationality – Where none of the previous tests assist you will be a resident of the country in which you are a national.

In most cases an individual will be able to determine their residence using one of these tie breaker rules.

When it comes to Australia, Singapore, the USA and the UK, most of these countries adopt comprehensive DTAs between one another, in which Article 4 of the OECD Model Tax Convention is essentially utilised. This includes the DTAs between the following countries:

  • Australia and Singapore
  • Australia and the USA
  • Australia and the UK
  • Singapore and the UK       
  • The UK and the USA

Notably, there is no DTA between Singapore and the USA. This means that dual residents of Singapore and the USA will need to rely on the taxation rules and access to tax relief options in each country in order to avoid double taxation.

Dual Tax Residents

In very rare cases an individual may have sufficient ties to multiple countries in which they are either not a citizen, or in which they hold dual citizenship, leading to a situation whereby they may not be able to effectively use tie breaker residency rules to accurately determine their country of residence. This creates a complex situation wherein no country has clear priority for determining tax residency and a decision regarding residency is subjective.

This situation could theoretically lead to an individual being subject to taxes being assessed on their worldwide income in multiple tax jurisdictions. The Mutual Agreement Procedure contained in some DTAs enables a taxpayer to request the competent authority in one country to engage with their counterparts in another country to resolve double taxation.

Managing Dual Tax Residency

In summary, determining residency is an important factor because it determines which tax jurisdiction has primary taxation rights.

DTAs exist to help mitigate the risk of double taxation by providing tie breaker rules in determining residency and placing restrictions or limitations on taxation rights over certain types of income, as well as providing tax relief through the recognition of foreign tax credits.

Where no DTA exists, or where an individual’s residency cannot be determined, other provisions are required to mitigate the impact of double taxation. 

Tax residency can be a very complex area and it is recommended you seek specialist international tax advice for your particular situation. 

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Determining Corporate Residency

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Central Management
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Determining Corporate Residency

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Carry on a Business

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Determining Corporate Residency

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Voting Power

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Determining Corporate Residency

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The company is an Australian Resident

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Are you required to pay Inheritance Tax as an Australian Resident?

Daniel Wilkie   |   5 Apr 2022   |   6 min read

Australia does not have an inheritance tax. When a person dies, the estate, or person who inherits the assets does not have to consider any special inheritance tax on the money or assets that are taking ownership of. While a beneficiary may be required to pay taxes from Superannuation death benefit payments, or capital gains on the sale of assets that have been inherited if those assets are sold, there is no specific tax levied on the value of inherited assets. 

However, there are many countries that do have inheritance taxes, including the United Kingdom.  

This means that when an Australian inherits money or assets from abroad, they may find themselves subject to an unfamiliar “inheritance tax”.

What is inheritance tax?

Inheritance taxes are special taxes that are levied on the assets that are received from the estate of a deceased person. As the beneficiary of a deceased estate you are required to pay taxes on the value of the inheritance that you are receiving.

In a similar vein, estate taxes are levied on the value that is paid out of a deceased’s estate. The estate is required to pay these taxes, rather than the beneficiary. This means that the beneficiary receives the net assets after the estate has paid any required.

In some countries these taxes are referred to as “death duty”.

The laws around inheritance taxes vary between tax jurisdictions. There may be different tax rates, different inclusions on what type of assets are taxed and different types of exemptions or limits.

Some countries like the United Kingdom levy inheritance taxes where assets are transferred to trusts and for this reason many British expats should seek inheritance tax advice before establishing a trust in Australia.

When would an Australian resident be required to pay Inheritance taxes?

As an Australian resident you are not subject to inheritance tax, regardless of where the inheritance is coming from. However the deceased estate may be subject to estate taxes prior to paying or transferring your inheritance to you.

In essence this means you, as an individual taxpayer, do not have to be concerned about being assessed for specific inheritance taxes.

What taxes does an Australian need to be aware of when inheriting assets from overseas?

1. Ongoing earnings from the inherited estate

When you receive money from an inheritance you may be subject to taxation on any of the amounts that have been earned as income, and were not already taxed within the estate. This is because a deceased individual may continue to gather income after their date of death. If there is a delay between the date of ownership of the estate assets being transferred to you and the physical transfer of such assets to you then you may personally be assessed on such income. The executor of the estate would make you aware of any income amounts that this may apply to.

Furthermore, any ongoing income that you earn from inherited assets will be taxed under ordinary taxation laws. For example, if you inherit a business, you will be subject to any income tax on the ongoing business earnings once the business has been transferred to you. If you inherit an investment property then you will be subject to income tax on the ongoing rental income that you earn once the property has been transferred to you.

Since we are talking about inheritance from an overseas estate, it is important to note that you may also continue to be subject to taxes in the country in which the inherited asset is located. In this situation most countries have a double tax agreement with Australia which will typically ensure that you are limited to paying taxes based on the country that has the highest income (or capital gains) tax rate.

2. Capital Gains Tax

Sometimes a deceased estate may be liquidated so that the beneficiaries are simply paid out in cash. Other times beneficiaries may be bequeathed assets such as property, shares, a family business, collectables, or other assets.

Under Australian Capital Gains Tax laws the date of death is typically used as the date you acquired the asset, with the market value of the asset at this point in time being your cost base. This means that when you eventually sell the asset you will be subject to capital gains tax on any capital gain made on this sale.

There may be some exclusions. For instance if you inherit a family home and move into or continue to live in that home, then you may be exempt from capital gains under the main residence exemption.

3. Superannuation Death Benefits

A superannuation death benefit may be paid to you as a lump sum or an income stream. Typically a lump sum death benefit is tax-free where you were a dependent of the deceased. If you were not a dependent, or you receive a superannuation death benefit income stream, then you may be subject to taxes on part of the death benefit, depending on the components of the benefit paid.

4.  Bringing money into Australia

If you have inherited cash from an overseas estate you also need to be aware of the impact of transferring funds from overseas into Australia.

Foreign currency can be treated as a CGT asset. This means that when you withdraw money from an overseas bank account you are triggering a taxable event. This is because exchange rate valuations fluctuate and there can be a difference between the value of what you originally inherit and the value of what ends up in your Australian bank account, purely because of these exchange rate fluctuations.

This means that you may be taxed on any increased value of the overseas money, from the time of inheritance to the time the funds are transferred to your Australian bank account.

Inheriting money from overseas

In simple terms, inheriting money from an overseas estate is similar to inheriting money from within Australia. While you will not personally be assessed on inheritance taxes, you do need to consider other taxes based on the ongoing benefits earned through the inheritance.

The biggest difference is the added complications that inheriting from overseas may impose, including:

  • Potential capital gains tax on exchange rate fluctuations when withdrawing foreign currency
  • Estate taxes imposed on the estate that are paid prior to distributing your inheritance
  • Foreign taxes imposed on continuing to hold onto any foreign assets or investments

Once you receive the inheritance the assets or money received are yours. This means that their ongoing use and benefit are assessed, where applicable, in your hands, just as any ordinary assets or finances that you earn or invest in yourself, would be. 

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Home for the Pandemic: Key Tax Considerations for Australian Expats Working for Overseas Employers During the Pandemic

Daniel Wilkie   |   15 Jun 2021   |   7 min read

If you’re an Australian expat who came home to ride out the pandemic then you may have found yourself in an unusual situation. Thanks to the advantages of technology, moving back to Australia doesn’t necessarily mean changing employment.

Living in Australia while continuing to work for an overseas employer could mean you face a range of complex tax issues. For this reason it is important to seek professional advice for your specific situation so that you can make appropriate plans and preparations.

Below is a brief overview of some of the considerations you will need to cover.

Tax Residency

The first issue is determining your tax residency.

While the standard residency tests still exist, the ATO has advised that individuals who returned to Australia for the pandemic may remain non-residents (continuing to be residents of their overseas home), provided they intend to return to the country they now call home as soon as possible. This means that if you are still actively planning to return to your overseas home as soon as possible you have some reassurance that you remain a non-resident in Australia.

However, your residency status still depends on your activities in Australian as well as your ties to your overseas home. The longer you stay in Australia, the more you settle down, the more difficult it gets to determine residency. Unfortunately the ATO’s guidelines are unclear about when exactly you would be expected to return to your overseas home and how you can clearly show that this is your intention. If your stay in Australia means you no longer qualify as a tax resident overseas then this may also complicate matters.

Since this is a particularly complicated and nuanced issue it is important to get specific tax advice for your situation as soon as possible. Note that your residency status can change if your actions and intentions change as well.

Non-Residents Working for an Overseas Employer

What happens if you have an overseas employer and you continue to be a non-resident while living in Australia? In simple terms this means you will only be required to lodge an Australian tax return for any Australian sourced income.

If your primary source of income is from your overseas employer, it may result in the income being exempt. However, any double tax treaty will require consultation to determine the ultimate taxing rights. Remaining a non-resident is also likely to keep things simpler as your tax issues will continue as if you were still living back in the country in which you are employed, and to which you intend to return.

Residents Working for an Overseas Employer

On the other hand, living in Australia for the duration of the pandemic could mean that you become an Australian tax resident. In this situation you will be required to include all of your income from worldwide sources in your Australian tax return.

This means that despite your primary source of income being derived from an overseas source, you will have to consider Australian taxes on top of the foreign taxes paid. Note that double taxation agreements typically ensure that you don’t pay more than the amount of tax required from the jurisdiction with the higher taxation rate.

Comparison of Tax Impact as a Resident/Non-Resident

For a basic comparison let’s assume the following:

You earn
– AUD $200,000 from your foreign employer
– AUD $5,000 from Australian interest income

As an Australian tax resident you would be required to pay Australian income taxes and medicare levy of $67,017.

To avoid double taxation you would typically get a tax credit for any foreign income tax paid on the foreign employment income. For example, if you paid foreign taxes of $40,000 on your foreign employment income, then you would only have to pay the difference of $27,017 in your Australian return.

Since Australia’s tax rates are amongst the highest in the world it is likely that you would have to pay some Australian tax on top of your foreign tax paid.

If the country you work for has higher overall tax rates than Australia, then you would effectively only have to pay taxes on the Australian sourced interest income. In this scenario this means you would end up paying $2,350 for the Australian interest income (on top of the foreign taxes paid).

On the other hand, if you remain a non-resident for Australian tax purposes then you would only be required to pay income taxes on the employment income at their source country (your country of residence). Since interest income is typically covered by double taxation agreements it is likely you would only have to pay $500 in Australian taxes on the Australian sourced income. (Though you may also have to pay any additional foreign taxes on this income in the country of residence).

Ultimately the exact amount of tax you would pay depends on where you are employed and where you are a resident. However, it is usually advantageous to be classed as a resident in the country from where you are earning your primary income.

Other Implications of Changing Residency

If you continue to remain a non-resident for Australian tax purposes there are no additional tax implications to consider. However, if you do become an Australian resident again then there are a few issues to consider and plan for. This includes capital gains and investment income.

             Capital Gains Considerations

One of the potential disadvantages of changing residency is capital gains. If you resume Australian residency then you will be required to value any foreign assets for capital gains purposes at the date you become a resident. These assets then become subject to Capital Gains Tax either when you sell them, or if you move back overseas and become a non-resident again.

Since some countries don’t have a capital gains tax, or they calculate capital gains taxes differently – returning to Australia as a resident, whether on a permanent basis or for a number of years, may have a significant tax consequence that you hadn’t planned for. 

             Investment Income

Investment income such as rent, interest and dividends, can be taxed very differently in different countries. Your residency status can also change how you are taxed on such income. Any double tax agreement between Australia and the country from which the investment income is derived, will further impact the overall way in which you pay taxes on such income.

This may be as simple as needing to advise banks, property managers, and investors that your country of residence has changed. This way they can withhold the appropriate amount of taxes required to cover the foreign tax obligations. Or it may require more complex considerations such as the requirements of being a Director, laws around owning controlling interests in a foreign company, and even residency status of a foreign company that you manage. 

Understanding your Tax Situation

The pandemic has created a situation where many Australians are either returning home as unintended residents, or are left uncertain as to their tax residency status. Since this can have a dramatic impact on your finances it is important to get professional, expert advice, sooner rather than later. 

The longer you continue to stay in Australia, the more important it is to assess your tax residency status and understand the potential tax implications of this.

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Determining Corporate Residency

Use our online tool to determine the corporate residency of your client's business.

Place of
Incorporation

Is the company incorporated outside Australia?

Determining Corporate Residency

Use our online tool to determine the corporate residency of your client's business.

Central Management
and Control

Is the Central Management and Control
of the company exercised in Australia?

Determining Corporate Residency

Use our online tool to determine the corporate residency of your client's business.

Carry on a Business

Does the company carry on a business in Australia?

Determining Corporate Residency

Use our online tool to determine the corporate residency of your client's business.

Voting Power

Is the company's voting power controlled
by shareholders who are residents of Australia?

Determining Corporate Residency

Use our online tool to determine the corporate residency of your client's business.

The company is an Australian Resident

Contact us for tailored international tax advice
regarding your client's specific situation.

Contact us for tailored international tax advice regarding your client's specific situation.

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Determining Corporate Residency

Use our online tool to determine the corporate residency of your client's business.

The company is not a resident
but it could be a CFC

Contact us for tailored international tax advice
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Contact us for tailored international tax advice regarding your client's specific situation.

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Claiming foreign tax credits on capital gains made from overseas investments

Matthew Marcarian   |   3 Mar 2020   |   4 min read

Burton’s case [Burton v Commissioner of Taxation [2019] FCAFC 141] has set an interesting precedent for claiming foreign tax credits on capital gains made from the sale of overseas investments in the United States.

In simple terms, if you own a capital asset in the USA, and you are taxed in the US the capital gain, then you may not be able to claim all the US tax paid as credit in Australia.

The reason for this is because the ATO will only allow you to claim the foreign tax offset that relates to the portion of taxable discounted capital gain being declared in your Australian tax return. The Australia-US Double Taxation Agreement will not assist you in this regard.

Since Burton’s application to appeal the decision was denied on 14 February 2020, the position under the law has been clarified in a situation where an Australian taxpayer makes a capital gains on US real estate (or other assets which are considered effectively connected with the USA).

While some articles claim that this case means the ATO is clawing back the 50% discount on Australian residents with foreign held assets, this isn’t strictly true. It’s actually that not all of the US tax paid would be creditable here.

Example – Comparing the net tax effect on an Australian tax resident selling capital assets owned under different tax regimes. 

To understand the situation let’s consider the example of Jack, an Australian taxpayer who sells a long-term capital asset held in the US, NZ and Australia.

The US taxes capital gains in full, however they tax the capital gain at a different tax rate. NZ does not tax capital gains. Including NZ as a comparison makes it clear that the ruling from Burton does not claw back the discounted 50% capital gain.

For our purposes Jack is an Australian tax resident.

Let’s assume:

  • For ease of calculations Jack makes a capital gain of $1,000,000 on the sale of each of the following assets.
  • Jack’s first $1,000,000 capital gain is on an asset that he held in the US for more than 12 months. While the US taxes capital gains, it applies a concessional tax rate for assets held over 12 months. For ease of calculations we will assume the top concessional rate of 20% applies.
  • The second $1,000,000 gain is on an investment that was held in NZ for more than 12 months. NZ does not tax domestic capital gains.
  • Finally, Jack also sells $1,000,000 investment in Australia, which he has also held for over 12 months. Accordingly, Jack will only be taxed on 50% of the Australian capital gain. For ease of calculations we will assume the flat top marginal rate and Medicare levy applies, 47%.
  • Jack sells all 3 investments in the same financial year for a capital gain of AUD$1,000,000 each.
  • For ease of calculations Jack has no capital losses to apply and he is able to apply the 50% CGT discount in full when preparing his Australian tax return. 
    US owned Asset (AUD$) NZ owned Asset (AUD$)Australian owned Asset (AUD$)
 Capital Gain $1,000,000$1,000,000$1,000,000
a.Foreign Taxable gain after applying any discounts for assessing tax on capital gains$1,000,000 0
b.Foreign tax paid
US 20%
NZ NA on capital gains
$200,000 0
c.Australian Capital Gain$1,000,000$1,000,000$1,000,000
d.Portion of capital gain eligible for discount in Australian assessment$500,000$500,000$500,000
e.Net taxable Australian gain to be taxed (c – d)$500,000$500,000$500,000
f.Australian tax at $47% (including Medicare levy)$235,000$235,000$235,000
g.Net foreign tax paid that is eligible to be claimed as an offset against the Australian taxable portion of the capital gain US: b x 50%
All others: b
$100,0000
h.Australian net tax payable (f – g)$135,000$235,000$235,000
Total foreign & Australian tax (b + h)$335,000$235,000$235,000
Global Tax Paid33.5%23.5%23.5%

As you can see from this example, Jack ends up paying more tax on the US asset. This is because the US taxes the full gain at a discounted rate. Australia then taxes half of the gain at the Australian tax rate and only allows the 50% portion of the foreign income tax credits to be applied.

Conclusion

The net impact of applying this precedent is that Australian taxpayers will end up paying up to 33.5% income tax on capital gains made on US investments that are held for more than 12 months. This is in contrast to the 23.5% income tax that they will pay on capital gains that are limited to only paying Australian income tax.

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United Kingdom Property and Tax Updated

Richard Feakins   |   9 Mar 2014   |   11 min read

CGT Proposals

Details of the plans to impose Capital Gains Tax on gains arising to non-UK residents on the disposal of UK residential property have been published.

The proposals are wider than anticipated and also have unexpected consequences for UK resident second home owners.

CGT will be charged on gains accruing from April 2015 to non-resident individual owners, trusts, companies and partners on disposals of residential property regardless of the value of the property.

CGT will also be levied on gains arising on the disposal of investment properties, in contrast to the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwelling (ATED) regime introduced in April 2013.

The tax payable by non-corporate sellers will be at the normal CGT rates (18% or 28%) with the benefit of the annual CGT exemption (£11,100 for 2015/16) and, if applicable, principal private residence relief (PPR).

A surprising aspect of these proposals is that both UK and non-UK resident owners of multiple homes may, in future, be denied the ability to elect which of their homes should benefit from PPR.

Instead, only the property which is, as a matter of fact, a taxpayer’s main residence or the property that qualifies as such in accordance with a proposed new fixed rule would be eligible for relief.

The rationale behind this is a concern that, if PPR is available on the sale of a non-resident’s home, the non-resident can simply elect their UK home as their main residence (rather than their non-UK property on which no CGT is payable).

Nevertheless, the proposed extension of this change to UK residents is unexpected.

That said, the Government’s dislike of “flipping” is well known and, to this end, the final period of ownership exemption for PPR has already been reduced from 36 months to 18 months for disposals on or after 6 April 2014.

The new proposals also suggest a new method of collecting CGT.

The detail here is sketchy but the idea is that non-resident sellers would have an option either to pay the tax due themselves or have the tax collected by withholding (carried out by the solicitor acting for the purchaser).

The tax would have to be paid within 30 days of completion, this could be quite onerous for the purchaser’s solicitors and it would further complicate the conveyancing process.

The application of the new CGT charge to disposals by non-resident companies will be more convoluted. Companies paying ATED will pay the related CGT charge on all or part of the gain at the usual rate of 28%.

By contrast, all other non-resident companies will be subject to a tailored CGT charge at a rate to be confirmed.

Enveloped properties

Another unexpected announcement in the recent Budget was the immediate extension of 15% SDLT to corporate purchasers of residential properties worth more than £500,000, (previously £2million).

The scope of ATED will be similarly extended but not with immediate effect. From 1 April 2015 a new band of ATED will apply, with an annual charge of £7,000 on residential properties worth more than £1m but less than £2m.

From 1 April 2016 residential properties worth between £500,000 and £1m will be charged £3,500.

The bands will otherwise remain unchanged and the current reliefs/exemptions (including those for commercially let residential property and development and trading businesses) will continue to apply.

The ATED related CGT charge will be extended from 6 April 2015 to properties worth more than £1m and will apply to that part of the gain that accrues on or after this date; and to properties worth more than £500,000 from 6 April 2016.

The balance of the gain will be treated as at present and, where the company is non-resident and part of the gain is not ATED related, the latter may also be subject to the proposed new tailored charge from April 2015.

A Mansion Tax?

Press speculation about a mansion tax grows ever more fevered whilst actual proposals remain elusive. That said, both ATED and the new CGT proposals described in this Newsletter illustrate how soft a target property is and house price inflation will surely tempt our politicians further.

Current possibilities, whether from academics or politicians, include: a progressive property tax (on houses but with relatively low values); increasing Council Tax on dwellings worth over £2m, being the latest idea from Danny Alexander; and a far more radical land value tax which would apply to all types of land.

The debate seems likely to intensify between now and May 2015. We are monitoring developments and will publish specific briefings as soon as there is something concrete to report.

Other Budget news

  • Pensions: Far reaching reforms were announced to remove the requirement to purchase an annuity from pension funds and to relax the tax charges that apply to the withdrawal of funds. Some transitional measures were introduced on 27 March but the full reform will take effect from April 2015 following consultation.
  • Savings: From 1 July 2014, the ISA will become a “new ISA” (NISA) with a limit of £15,000 for 2014/15 and will be able to hold any combination of cash and shares. From the same date both the Junior ISA and child trust fund limit will also rise to £4,000. From 1 June 2014, the premium bonds subscription limit will rise to £40,000; it will rise again to £50,000 in 2015/16.
  • The IHT debt rules introduced from April 2013 will be amended so that foreign currency bank accounts will be treated as if they were ‘excluded property’. Therefore a liability (whenever incurred) will be disallowed for IHT purposes if borrowed funds have been deposited in a foreign currency account in a UK bank (either directly or indirectly) in respect of deaths after the date of Royal Assent of Finance Bill 2014.
  • IHT Exemptions: The Government will consult on extending the existing IHT exemption for members of the armed forces who die on active service to all emergency service personnel who die in the line of duty.
  • CGS: The annual cap on the total tax deductions that can be claimed under the Cultural Gift scheme & Acceptance in Lieu (for donations of pre-eminent objects to the nation) has been increased to £40m with effect from 6 April 2014.
  • Accelerated tax payments: As from Royal Assent of the Finance Act 2014 HMRC will be able to require taxpayers who have used a tax avoidance scheme to make an accelerated tax payment where it considers that there is judicial ruling which has defeated the same (or a similar) scheme.

Similarly, taxpayers will be required to pay disputed tax ‘up front’ if they have claimed a tax advantage by the use of arrangements that fail to be disclosed under DOTAS; or where HMRC invokes the GAAR.

  • The Government is consulting on some potentially quite alarming proposals to allow HMRC to seize money from bank accounts from anyone who owes more than £1,000 in tax or tax credits, although this will apparently be subject to certain safeguards.
  • Charity definition: HMRC is proposing to amend the definition of charity for tax purposes by introducing a new ‘purpose of establishment condition’.

This aims to prevent charities being set up to abuse charity tax reliefs and is not intended to catch genuine charitable organisations.

However one of the proposed tests would deny charitable status for tax purposes if one of the main purposes for which it was established was to secure a tax advantage.

This could potentially impact on private and corporate charitable foundations as it is arguable that one of their main purposes is to obtain a tax advantage such as Gift Aid and other reliefs on donations.

Inheritance tax news

  • Revised proposals to divide the nil rate band available to trusts between all trusts created by the same settlor will be published later this year and legislation introduced in Finance Bill 2015.
  • The National Audit Office is launching an investigation into the possible misuse of agricultural and business property relief from IHT, as their use has almost doubled in five years.
  • The Conservative Party have indicated they would consider raising the IHT nil rate band to £1m, should they be re-elected.

FATCA’s impact on trusts

The UK and US government have reached an agreement to implement a US law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in the UK. FATCA was designed to combat tax evasion by US residents using foreign accounts and it requires institutions outside the US to pass information to US tax authorities. A surprising range of institutions are affected by FATCA including some private trusts.

Corporate trustees and trusts which delegate the management of investment portfolios will generally need to register with the IRS by 25 October 2014, in the latter case if more than 50% of their income derives from investments.

Alternatively they may be able to enter into an agreement with a third party (e.g. the investment manager) to register on their behalf.

Thereafter they must report any US connections annually to HMRC, who will pass the information on to the IRS.

Other trusts will not need to register but may have annual reporting requirements if they have any US beneficiaries, trustees, protectors or settlors.

All trustees should consider their status and obligations under FATCA as soon as possible. For full details please see our flyer entitled ‘FATCA: What trustees need to know.’

Public register of beneficial owners

It has been clear since last November that companies will be required to make greater disclosure of their beneficial owners, but it had been assumed that trusts would be excluded as David Cameron has argued that they should be treated differently.

However, the European Parliament has recently approved an amendment to the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, which will, if implemented, make information about the individuals behind trusts publicly available for the first time.

Each EU member state would have to keep and make available a public register listing the ultimate beneficial owners of privately owned companies, foundations and trusts. There would be provisions to protect data privacy and to ensure that only the minimum information necessary is on the register.

Whilst it is appreciated that greater transparency may help to prevent criminal activity and tax evasion, many feel that these proposals go beyond what is required to achieve this aim.

Although they do seem rather worrying, they are still at a relatively early stage: final negotiations within the EU on the Directive will not begin until later this year and then each individual Member State has to incorporate the result into domestic law before the provisions take effect.

Further, the UK government has confirmed that it will oppose the mandatory registration requirement for all trusts and will seek to negotiate a compromise.

Same Sex Marriages

Since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force on 13 March 2014, same sex couples are able to marry in England and Wales. Civil partners should also be able to convert their legal relationship to a same sex marriage later this year, once the mechanism to do this has been introduced.

The intention is that same sex marriages should have virtually identical tax and legal consequences and effects to opposite sex marriages.

Therefore, from 13 March 2014 all legislation using marriage terminology will be read as encompassing both same sex and opposite sex marriage. The default position for interpreting legal instruments will depend upon whether or not that instrument was in existence on 13 March 2014.

Pre-existing private legal instruments will generally be read as referring only to opposite sex marriages; and new instruments from that date will be read as encompassing both opposite and same sex marriages. The position may be reversed by inclusion of specific provisions to the contrary.

Art used in a business

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that a painting used in Castle Howard’s house opening business was a wasting asset which attracted no CGT on its disposal, upholding the Upper Tribunal decision covered in our newsletter last Spring (HMRC v The Executors of Lord Howard of Henderskelfe [2014] EWCA Civ 278).

The painting in question was not owned by the business operator, but informally permitted to be used in the business, and the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the CGT legislation does not limit the exemption to assets owned by the trader.

This is potentially a very useful decision but it may not be relevant to many cases because the CGT exemption does not apply if capital allowances have or could have been claimed on the asset. It is also possible that the law could be changed.

This Publication provides general advice only is should not be relied upon when making decisions. Neither CST nor any other professional in the firm has prepared this with a view to covering any client scenario and this document is not a substitute for professional advice. It has been prepared in conjunction with firm of Boodle Hatfield see www.boodlehatfield.com

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The company is not a resident
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