Moving To Australia On A Global Talent Visa

Matthew Marcarian   |   2 Nov 2023   |   8 min read

Exceptionally talented individuals with the capacity to raise Australia’s standing in their field may be eligible for a Global Talent Visa. This Visa is a permanent residency Visa that offers a migration pathway to individuals who can bring exceptional skills into Australia.

Because the Global Talent Visa is not a temporary visa, the temporary resident tax concessions are not available and you will be taxed just like any other Australian citizen moving home to Australia.

As international tax specialists in Australia we are often asked by individuals moving to Australia on a Global Talent Visas, what the Australian tax implications of making this move are in relation to the assets back in their home country.

The tax implications of making this move will depend on the type of assets you have back home.

Below is an overview of what you can expect.

Moving To Australia With No Assets Other Than A Bank Account

When you move to Australia with no assets except the cash in your bank account, the tax consequences of holding onto your foreign assets are limited to foreign exchange (forex) issues. Since foreign currency is considered a taxable asset, Australia will tax realised exchange gains and will allow a deduction for realised exchange losses. 

This means that money sitting in a bank account with fluctuating values will have no tax consequence. However, if you spend or transfer that money, including bringing it into Australia at a later date, then you trigger a forex realisation event.

If the value of your qualifying forex accounts is less than AUD $250,000 then you can make an election (known as the Limited Balance exemption) which effectively allows an exemption so that you can disregard any forex gains or losses that might arise on the accounts. This is a simplicity measure for taxpayers who are considered to have low balances of foreign currency. The objective is to lower tax compliance costs. People moving to Australia should take advice on the effect of these rules on their foreign savings.

Moving To Australia With A Main Residence In Your Home Country

While an Australian resident is eligible for an exemption from capital gains tax on their main residence, it is unlikely that this exemption will apply to you. This is because you were not an Australian resident while you were living in your property, in your home country.

Once you are living in Australia the overseas property becomes a property that is not your main residence. This applies whether you rent the property out or not.

If you rent your former residence out it becomes an investment property. The rental income is taxable and the expenses associated with generating that rental income are tax deductible. This includes interest on any mortgage taken out to purchase or renovate the property, any local rates, repairs, and other costs. Travel costs incurred to inspect or repair the property are specifically precluded as an eligible deduction. If you pay income tax on the rental income overseas, then you will be able to apply that as a foreign tax credit in your Australian tax return. This way the Australian tax paid on this rental income is limited to any difference between the Australian tax assessed and the tax paid overseas.

If you don’t rent out your former residence (or otherwise earn income relating to the property), then there is no income to declare, and no ability to claim deductions relating to the cost of owning this property.

When you sell the property you will be subject to CGT. The CGT will be calculated on the difference between the value the property sells for and the value of the property at the time you moved to Australia.

Moving To Australia With Investments

If you hold assets in your country of origin, then you will be required to report any assessable income earned from those assets, as well as any capital gains or losses generated on the disposal of those assets.

Certain types of income, such as interest, royalties, and dividends, are typically covered by Double Tax Agreements (DTAs) in a way which limits the amount of tax that the country of origin can impose. This means it is important to advise your bank and investment managers when you become an Australian resident so that they can ensure the correct foreign tax rate is applied at the source.

Regardless of the tax rules in the country of origin, as an Australian tax resident you will be required to report income from all sources in your Australian tax return.

General Tax Information You Should Be Aware Of When Moving To Australia On A Global Talent Visa

It is important to keep in mind that moving to Australia on a permanent basis will mean you become an Australian tax resident.

For tax purposes this means you will need to declare your worldwide income in your Australian tax return, regardless of where the income is earned and whether the income is brought to Australia or stays in an overseas bank account.

All foreign investment income, including interest, dividends and foreign stock plans, are assessable in Australia, whether or not they are assessable in another country.

The foreign income must be reported in the relevant Australian tax year in which it was earned. This may be different to the tax year relating to foreign country in which the investment income was earned.

In general you will be able to offset the tax payable in Australia with any taxes already paid in the country of origin.

Also be aware that Australia has complicated rules if you have interests in overseas companies or trusts, even if you did not set up the relevant companies or trusts or even if they are just ‘family companies’ or ‘family trusts’.

Capital Gains Tax

Australia has a Capital Gains Tax regime. This means you may be required to pay capital gains tax on any assets that you retain in your country of origins.

CGT is assessed at the same rate as your marginal tax rate, however there is a 50% Discount on the value that is assessed on assets that have been owned for at least 12 months after becoming an Australian resident.

CGT discount example:

You purchase a property in 2020 for $500,000.

In 2024 you sell the property for $1,000,000.

This gives you a net capital gain of $500,000.

Instead of paying tax on the full $500,000 gain, tax is only applicable on 50% of the total gain, which means you only pay tax on $250,000.

Deemed Acquisition

At the time that you move to Australia, any assets that you retain overseas are considered to have been acquired for their market value on the day you arrive. This valuation will become their cost base for capital gains tax purposes in Australia.

You are also deemed to have acquired these assets on the date that you become an Australian resident. This ensures that any fluctuations in value between the original date of acquisition and your move to Australia, are ignored for CGT calculations. It also means that you need to continue to own your assets for at least 12 months from the date you move to Australia in order to access the 50% capital gains tax discount.

Summary

As an Australian tax resident you will be required to lodge an annual income tax return in which you must report:

  • Income from your worldwide source
  • Capital gains or losses on all assets held, regardless of the country in which they are held
  • Any foreign tax paid, which may be applied as a credit to reduce the amount of Australian tax assessed on foreign earnings

When you move to Australia your assets will be deemed to be acquired at the market value on the date you become an Australian resident.    

As everyone’s situation is unique, and tax laws are frequently updated, it is important to obtain up to date advice for your specific situation. This will ensure that specific factors that may impact your situation differently are also included in the advice, as well as ensuring you are getting the most up to date information.

eBook: Key Items A Global Talent Visa Holder Should Know When Moving To Australia

If you are moving to Australia on a Global Talent Visa you are likely to become an Australian tax resident. 

This eBook covers the 5 common tax concerns that those moving to Australia on a Global Talent Visa have including:

  1. When do I become a tax resident?
  1. Keeping foreign assets when moving to Australia.
  1. Foreign assets including foreign currencies, trusts, companies or retirement funds and pension loans.
  1. Selling your foreign main residence after moving.
  1. Using your foreign bank accounts.

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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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What You Need to Know if You Have a Trust and are Moving Abroad

John Marcarian   |   3 Apr 2023   |   8 min read

Many private clients heading to abroad may already have a trust in their home country or a 3rd Country.

Historically trusts have been attractive vehicles because they offer people the potential of protecting their wealth from external attacks, but it can also help lower the burden of taxation on a family group.

For those who do not have a trust as yet but who are considering establishing a trust, a great deal of thought and planning needs to go into it.

We make sure our clients understand the four golden rules of setting up a trust:

  1. Ensure the bank or financial advisory firm managing your money does not own the trustee company that will be the trustee of your trust. This prevents a conflict of interest.
  2. Understand how you can unwind the trust arrangement.
  3. Recognise that long-term solutions require tax contingency planning before you sign on the dotted line. As your residency can change, so can your tax position.
  4. Make sure you understand how you can access trust income and/or capital to pay taxes that may become due on the gains of the trust.

Before delving into some further issues associated with trust management, I will cover just a few central points about how trusts work for those who may not have worked with trusts.

How Trusts Work

A trust is an arrangement whereby a trustee has a fiduciary obligation to deal with property over which they have control for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries who are able to enforce such an obligation.

Beneficiaries may be individuals, corporations, or indeed other trusts (such as a charitable trust).

All trusts have a trust deed. 

At a high level, this is a document that outlines the rules that the trustee must follow in relation to the property they control.

Common objectives for utilising trusts are to protect assets and ensure that beneficiaries are deable to benefit financially from the trust in a manner that suits the family group and in accordance with the wishes of the settlor of the trust.

The discretionary trust is the most common trust used by business owners and investors. 

They are generally set up to hold family and/or business assets for the benefit of providing asset protection and tax-planning benefits for family members.

The Trust Deed: Its Importance

The trust deed is the most important document of a trust as it establishes and defines terms and conditions upon which the trust must be operated and managed.

More specifically, the trust deed sets out the beneficiaries of the trust, as well as the end date of the trust and the conditions upon which the trustee holds the property for the beneficiaries.

Actions undertaken outside the provisions set out in the trust deed can be deemed by a court of appropriate jurisdiction to be null and void. 

The implications of an action being null, and void can reach further than the act simply being treated as if it did not occur.

An invalid act of a trustee can result in unwanted taxation implications for the trustee, and a breach of the trustee’s duties can lead to personal liability for damages or alternatively unwanted consequences for beneficiaries.

The best approach in dealing with trust management and planning is to treat every trust deed as unique and therefore refer to the provisions in the deed prior to taking any action.

How Are Trusts Taxed?

While a trust is regarded as a taxpayer in some countries (e.g., Australia), in other countries this is not the case. 

In some countries, the beneficiary is taxed on gains accruing in the trust; in others, it is the original settlor who suffers the tax burden.

Changing Residency With a Trust

One aspect of trust management and planning to get right when you have a trust is to ensure that assets are not unwittingly ‘exported’ into certain tax jurisdictions when you change your tax residency status.

If you want to set up a trust, then before you move to a particular country it is important to understand how a trust determines its residency status under the laws of that country.

In Australia, a trust is regarded as a tax resident of Australia if one of the trustees is a tax resident of Australia. 

However, in other jurisdictions, the concept of central management and control of the trust is used to determine the residency status of the trust.

It is important to work through all the residency aspects likely to impact your trust when you move around with an existing trust.

The key point to note is that it can be a useful exercise to transfer assets from an individual to a trust prior to changing residency and heading overseas. 

However, like most things, this strategy has its pros and cons.

Trusts Heading Overseas: Residency Determination

In the Australian context, where an individual trustee of an Australian trust changes residence, then, often, the trust will also change its residence.

In these cases, you need to make sure that when the trustee changes its residence, the tax consequences are identified.

Before you depart you need to consider whether it is beneficial to you and your family for the trust to stay a resident in your home country where it was established or if it makes sense for the trust to move with you to your new country.

If the immediate and ongoing tax consequences of keeping the trust in its particular form are not advantageous to you then we can discuss alternative strategies with you.

Such strategies may include replacing the trustee of the trust with a company that is domiciled in the jurisdiction to which you are moving and make the trust subject to the laws of that jurisdiction. 

In other situations, it may be more appropriate for a replacement trustee to be appointed in a third jurisdiction and have the trust reside in a 3rd country.

The purpose of the discussion here is to highlight the fact that planning for a departing trust is very important.

Our approach to this area is to recognise that trusts are long-term family vehicles, and just because a client may move to a new country, it does not mean that they should have to wind up their trust and forgo all the benefits that it has provided them.

Given our international tax and trust knowledge, we will be able to help our client make important decisions such as this.

Trusts Arriving Abroad

Moving around the world while being in control of trusts is complicated and should not be done lightly.

Arriving in another country with a trust and no plan is a recipe for disaster.

Where a new individual client has changed their residence and they are the trustee of a foreign trust, it is clear that this trust is also likely to become a resident of the arrival country.

In other cases, even if the client ceases being the trustee before they change their residence specific jurisdictions tax income on ‘pre-migration transfer of assets’ to foreign trusts. 

It is also likely that the trust deed may need a review as some of its definitions and terms may have no meaning in the new country the trust is being exported to.

Even if the trust is residing in a 3rd country, a review of the trust deed from the perspective of the laws of the new country is warranted.

Other concepts, which might be recognised abroad, such as ‘community title’, might be used in the trust deed, but these concepts might have no application in the arrival country.

The arriving trust may still have reporting obligations in the country in which it was established. 

It may also be the case that there are foreign protectors or other people who have an ongoing role in the management of the trust.

You should consider how they are affected in terms of reporting based on the country you are moving to.

This is particularly important if the arriving trust has a business or significant assets.

Often, the cost base of trust assets must be understood on the day the trust first enters a new country.

Usually this will be the market value of the assets on the day of the trust’s arrival, but not always.

While your move abroad is an exciting time for most people and full of challenges and new opportunities, considering the tax issues of how your trust would be affected by your move is essential.

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John Marcarian   |   20 Feb 2023   |   3 min read

Similar to the need for you to plan your departing tax issues on the way out of your home country there is a major need to plan what your tax profile will be when you arrive in your new country. 

Sometimes, however, it is easy to assume that arriving in another country has no tax consequences and that can make things difficult.

A recent client example springs to mind.

David Smith (not his real name), an expat relocating from Singapore to the US (upon his retirement), decided to access his Australian superannuation fund.

What a mistake that was.

In Australia, pension payments for those over 60 years of age are tax free.

This is, however, not the case in the US.

David had worked out that he and his wife could afford to live in the US the way they envisaged, based on paying no US federal or state tax.

They were quite shocked when we told them that the US would tax David’s Australian-sourced pension stream.

It was not a great conversation.

Key Items To Consider

Set out below are some of the key things you need to consider ahead of your arrival:

  • Complying with the requirements of more than one tax jurisdiction (are tax credits available for any foreign tax paid?)
  • Accounting for a new tax and legal system (are you moving to a country that has a civil law regime or a common law regime?)
  • Understanding the tax issues associated with moving to the arrival country (does the country you are moving to have a general anti avoidance regime that targets tax planning?)
  • Considering how foreign assets are accounted for (is foreign income exempt or is it non-taxable there is a big difference between the two)
  • Locating other professional service providers to work with (do not assume your foreign tax advisor has international tax experience as this is often not the case)

How Will Your Assets Be Treated?

In some jurisdictions the moment you arrive in the country you are treated as having bought all your foreign assets at the market value of the date you became a tax resident.

This means that a ‘cost base’ has been established for your foreign assets.

Then when you sell those assets in future – a gain or loss can be worked out in relation to those assets. Australia is one such jurisdiction that treats your assets this way.

Other jurisdictions such as the US – do not give you this ‘step up’ in value.

This is a serious problem as you can end up paying a lot of tax to the Internal Revenue Service – based on the original cost of your assets which may have been many years ago.

This is grossly unfair, as most of any gain will have happened while you were a US non-resident – particularly if you sell the asset shortly after you arrive in the US (you may want to sell foreign assets to buy a house in the US for example!)

Your arrival must be carefully planned as the ramifications of an ill-prepared arrival can be costly. 

If you undertake a proper tax planning exercise before you leave, then the thrill of arriving in your new country is not shaken up by the bad news of unintended tax issues. 

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Key tax issues you need to consider before (not after) you move abroad

John Marcarian   |   24 Jan 2023   |   4 min read

Moving abroad is one of the most challenging things that many of us will do.

My move to Singapore in March 2004 was a completely foreign experience in so many respects. There are so many logistical challenges to deal with that often tax planning is left until you arrive.

This of course is way too late.

This article covers some issues to address ahead of time.

Exit Taxes

An example of an issue that frequently arises is the issue of ‘exit tax’; that is, the act of leaving one country may trigger the deemed sale of all your assets held in your home country. 

Hence, it pays to know if the country you are leaving has an ‘exit tax’ as this can have quite serious consequences for you.

Tax Elections

It is also worth considering whether you can exercise any ‘tax elections’ as to how you may be able to obtain concessional tax treatment as you depart your home country.

For example, in Australia, one of the things to consider depending upon the particular asset, is whether you choose to be treated for tax purposes as ‘retaining some of your assets’.

Though you may move abroad, that does not mean that all your assets need to go with you.

Lodging an election to retain some of your assets for tax purposes in your home country, may give you a bit more flexibility as to the tax treatment available when you decide to sell them.

Creating a Trust in a 3rd Country

For a number of reasons, including tax planning, asset protection and risk mitigation, many people wish to hold their assets in a third country, through some type of trust.

Part of the planning you may choose to do before your move to a new country, is considering whether you should establish a pre migration trust in a 3rd country before you move to the country where you will work.

Often this will lead to a better tax outcome than ‘taking all your assets’ with you.

Many countries do not have tax regimes which tax foreign trusts, and therefore, income accumulating therein is not taxable in the country of your tax residence.

Tax Regime For Expats

In the planning phase of where you might go to work overseas, one important consideration is to consider whether the country you are moving to has a ‘concessional’ or ‘modified’ tax regime for expats.

Some countries, have particularly favourable tax regimes for expats.

As an example, some concessional tax regimes e.g., Japan, Belgium, Korea to name a few, may only tax expats on income arising in their country during the first five years of the expat’s tax residence in the country. 

These transitional rules are generally designed to provide an incentive to work in their country.

Other countries, such as the US, tax expats living in the US on passive income accruing in their home country structures.

Unique Residency Status

Another factor for you to consider when planning your move abroad, is the type of residency that you, the ‘departing expat’, will be taking up in your new country.

In some countries, there are unique residency statuses that can have different tax implications for you. 

An example of this includes the ‘temporary resident’ status in Australia.

This type of residence status imposes a different tax outcome as compared to general residence, and they can provide some additional flexibility in your tax position upon arrival.

Restructuring Your Existing Company or Trusts

It is vital to understand how your existing tax structures may have to be ‘restructured’ before you leave the country.

In some cases, a restructure may only involve changes to the office holders of a company or trustee of a trust.

For example, the residency of the trustee determines the residency status of a trust in Australia. 

If the intention is to keep the trust a tax resident of Australia, then this may be achieved simply with the resignation of the current trustee (the departing expat) and the appointment of another individual who will remain in Australia.

In other cases, it may be possible to issue or transfer shares to a family member to ensure that the company you have in your home country is not caught by the controlled foreign corporation rules when you arrive in your new country.

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Planning what happens with your Pension Fund or Superannuation when moving abroad should be a top priority

John Marcarian   |   27 Oct 2022   |   4 min read

Most expats moving overseas will have some form of pension or superannuation plan.

In my experience changing one’s tax residence does not of itself impact how that pension plan is treated in most jurisdictions. However, some particular complex jurisdictions, like the United States of America, have egregious tax laws that often cause unintended consequences for arriving expatriates.

A US Example

One of my clients moving to the US was adversely affected by the international tax rules of the US with respect to foreign pensions. My client, Peter, had built up a sizeable superannuation (pension fund) balance in Australia. It was the product of 30 years working in the film and entertainment business. Over the previous ten years, Peter had been a senior executive working for a chain of movie theatres in Singapore. As such, international tax had not crossed his mind much. Peter and his wife, Helen, had grandchildren living in Santa Monica. They were keen to retire and enjoy the good life in a new location. Peter had calculated that he would be able to fund his future Santa Monica lifestyle through a combination of personal savings and by accessing his Australian pension. Everything was set.

Pension payments in Australia were tax free, so Peter thought that Uncle Sam would also not tax them. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In the US, such income streams are taxable if you are a US tax resident. We stopped Peter sending his pension to the US in the nick of time. We collapsed Peter’s Australian pension and enabled Peter to take his capital to the US and invest it in the US tax efficiently. Disaster averted.

This case study highlights why, in order to enjoy your pension, you must consider the impact of foreign tax laws when you are changing jurisdiction

Countries have different rules

In delivering service to clients, we consider the impact of any overseas move on their home country pension. The underlying motivation for establishing a pension fund is typically based on a desire to save funds for retirement so that there is no reliance on government pensions. 

Thus, it means that having the maximum amount available in the pension plan that is not eroded by taxation, is a primary objective. It is folly to think that a tax-advantaged regime in one country with respect to pension funds will axiomatically apply in another country. That is rarely the case.

Moving your Pension Plan

We have extensive knowledge of the taxation issues relevant to pensions and superannuation. 

This enables us to assist clients with compliance and planning in relation to this important area of their lives. When expats leave their home country to move abroad, there are many aspects of tax that need to be considered prior to departure and pension fund planning is often a priority.

For those expats that have their pension fund in the UK, it may actually be worthwhile moving their pension with them. There are particular rules to address this. A Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) is an overseas pension scheme that meets certain requirements set by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A QROPS can receive transfers of UK pension benefits without incurring an unauthorised payment and scheme sanction charge.

In Australia, for example, pension funds are only considered to be complying under the governing legislation if they remain within the Australian tax jurisdiction. This means, that the trustee must remain an Australian resident. Therefore, in the case of an expat, relocation can inadvertently trigger a tax liability. Steps need to be taken prior to departure.

Complying in multiple countries

Similarly, many expats arrive in a new country with their home country pension fund in place.  Therefore, they must adhere to the rules in their home country and their arrival country in relation to this pension fund. One of the specialist skills we possess is in advising clients how foreign pension plans will be treated as they move around the globe. We can assist clients on QROPS and other similar regimes.

Moving abroad is an exciting time for most people. If you undertake proper planning with respect to your pension plan before you leave, then the thrill of arriving in your new country is not shaken up by the bad news that you have created unintended tax issues by leaving your home country in an unplanned way.

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Understanding the Differences Between Australian Citizenship, Visa Residency and Tax Residency

Daniel Wilkie   |   18 May 2021   |   10 min read

It can understandably be confusing to determine the difference between being an Australian tax resident for tax purposes compared to visa residency.

If you’re an Australian citizen who was born and continues living in Australia, then it’s pretty straightforward. You are an Australian for both citizenship and tax purposes.

But what about when things aren’t so clear? Can you be an Australian citizen but not an Australian tax resident? Can you be an Australian tax resident without being an Australian citizen? And what about Visa status? How does this change things?

Citizenship and visa residency are pretty clear cut. You are either a citizen or you aren’t. You either have an Australian residency visa, or you don’t. Tax residency, whilst linked to some degree to having visa residency or citizenship, is not as straightforward.

Australian Citizenship

You are an Australian citizen when Australia is legally your home country. This could be because you were born in Australia, or because you were born to Australian parents, or because you applied for citizenship. As an Australian citizen, Australia is considered to be your default country for all purposes, including taxation. This is why an Australian citizen may, in certain situations, continue to be treated as a tax resident, despite living in another country.

However, what about for those citizens from another country, living in Australia?

Australian Visa Residence 

People who are citizens of other countries are only permitted to stay in Australia per the terms of their Visa. There are many different types of visas, ranging from short-term holiday visas, through to permanent residency visas.

The type of visa you hold will play a part in your circumstances when determining tax residency. For instance, individuals on short-term visas are less likely to be considered Australian tax residents, while individuals on long-term or permanent residency visas are more likely to be considered Australian tax residents.

Australian Tax Residency

Despite what your citizenship and visa status is, tax residency is a matter of fact and intention. There is no application form to be completed nor automatic rule to become a tax resident.

When considering whether you are an Australian tax resident the primary factor is whether you, the individual, is living in Australia (see the “resides test” below). Conversely, you may be a foreign resident for tax purposes if you live outside of Australia. Living in Australia is distinguished between having a holiday in Australia, or staying in Australia for an extended period, whether temporary or permanent.

To help distinguish “permanency”, an individual must typically be living in Australia for at least six months to be considered a tax resident. Conversely, Australian citizens who are living overseas are typically still considered to be Australian tax residents if they are living overseas for less than 2 years. Indeed an Australian citizen may be living overseas for up to 5 years and continue to be considered an Australian tax resident if there are sufficient ties remaining in Australia to demonstrate that the nature of their overseas stay is “temporary”.

In order to determine tax residency specific residency tests are considered.

Tests for Australian Residency

To determine whether an individual is a tax resident there are a number of tests that can be applied. Passing any one of these tests will determine residency status.

             Resides Test

The first test for residency is the ‘resides test’. If you are physically present in Australia, intending to live here on a permanent basis, and have all the usual attachments in Australia that one would expect of someone living here, then you are a tax resident.

Factors considered include whether your family lives in Australia with you, where your business and employment ties are, where you hold most of your assets and what your social and living arrangements are. If you pass this test then there is no need to consider further tests. 

It is possible to be found to be a resident of more than one country. In cases where you are found to be a dual resident, you may need to consider tie breaker rules in any relevant Double Tax Agreement. 

If you don’t pass the resides test then you may still be a tax resident if you satisfy one of the three statutory tests instead.

             Domicile Test

The domicile test states that you will be found to be an Australian tax resident unless you have a permanent home elsewhere. An Australian citizen will have Australia as their domicile by origin. This means that even if an Australian citizen is living or travelling overseas their default home will be Australia. 

In such situations residency only changes when there is an intention to permanently set up a new domicile overseas. (For this reason people holidaying overseas or living overseas on a short-term basis can continue to be Australian tax residents even if they don’t step foot in Australia for years). Individuals who were domiciled in Australia but who do not cut their connection with Australia, will continue to be Australian residents.

             183-Day Test

The ‘183 day test’ is the day count test. This test is typically to capture foreign residents coming to Australia, rather than applying to Australians moving overseas. Individuals who come to Australia from overseas for at least 183 days may find themselves being Australian tax residents. Note that being in Australia for 183 days of the year does not automatically make such an individual a tax resident. Non residents who come to Australia for more than 183 days but do not have any intention of taking up residence in Australia may, depending on their intent and actions, be considered visitors or holiday makers, and therefore not qualify as tax residents.

             The Commonwealth Superannuation Test

Australian Government employees in CSS or PSS schemes, who work in Australian posts overseas, will be considered Australian residents regardless of other factors. 

Examples of Tax Residency and Foreign Tax Residency

To understand the difference it might help to look at a few examples of different scenarios.

             An Australian Citizen who is a Tax Resident

Tom is an Australian citizen who was born in Australia. He has lived in Australia his whole life, and intends to continue living here. During the year he goes on a 6 month holiday, travelling around Europe. At the end of his 6 months he decides to take advantage of another opportunity and stays in Africa for 3 months. After this time, he returns home to Australia. 

Tom’s tax residency never changes. Despite travelling overseas for 9 months of the year, he continues to be an Australian resident for tax purposes. This is because Australia is always his home, and his time overseas is not in the nature of a permanent move.

             An Australian Citizen who is not a Tax Resident

Jill is an Australian citizen who was born in Australia. She has lived in Australia for her whole life. However, in 2019 Jill accepts an opportunity to take a job in England. The position is a permanent position and requires Jill to move to England on a permanent basis. After acquiring the necessary visa to work and live in England, she sells her home and uses the proceeds to make the move to England, where she buys a new home and settles down. Jill brings her son to England with her, and closes down her Australian bank accounts. She does not expect to return to Australia, other than for occasional holidays.

On the day that Jill departs Australia she becomes a foreign resident for tax purposes. The fact that she is an Australian citizen does not change this. This is because it is clear from her actions and intentions, closing off ties to Australia, and establishing a new home in England,  that she is moving to England on a permanent basis. 

             A Tax Resident Living in Australia on a Permanent Residency Visa

Bob is from the United States of America. While in Australia on a working holiday visa, where he travels around the country, his final stop is at a small country town that feels like home to him. He makes friends and is even offered a permanent job there. Bob’s visa is almost up, so he goes back to the United States as planned, then takes the necessary steps to return to Australia and apply for a permanent residency visa. Bob effectively cuts his ties with the US and intends to make this small country town his new home and moves into a room with one of his new mates.

On Bob’s initial time in Australia under his working holiday visa, he will be considered a non-resident, or a temporary resident, depending on his visa. Even though he started thinking about making a permanent move at this stage, he had yet to take any steps to show this intention. However, on his return, which was made with all the actions necessary to show that this was a permanent move to Australia, he then becomes an Australian tax resident. 

             A Foreign Tax Resident with an Australian Permanent Residency Visa

Jane is a British citizen who has been living in Australia on a permanent residency visa for the past ten years. She just received news that her parents were in a bad accident and both need permanent care. Jane decides to pack up and move back home to care for her parents. She sells off her assets, closes her Australian bank account, and returns home to live with her parents. She also finds a part time job overseas.

Even though Jane has a permanent residency visa in Australia, she is no longer living here on a permanent basis. This means she is now a foreign resident for tax purposes.

Permanent and Temporary Residents

Even if an individual is deemed to be a tax resident, the ATO further distinguishes between temporary residency and permanent residency. Temporary residency typically occurs when an individual is genuinely residing in Australia on a “permanent” basis, however, are only in Australia on a temporary Visa, as opposed to living in Australia on a permanent residency Visa or obtaining Australian citizenship.

Temporary residents are only taxed on their Australian-sourced income.

Tax Residency is based on your Permanent Residence

As you can see from the above examples, tax residency is based on where an individual is permanently residing. If you are in Australia on a holiday, or only for a short time (less than 6 months), then you would not be considered an Australian resident for tax purposes.

However, holding a permanent residency visa, does not necessarily mean you are a tax resident. If you actually live in another country on a permanent basis, having your social and economic ties in another country, then you will be a foreign resident for tax purposes. 

It is important to note that there must be a permanent home elsewhere. If an Australian resident decided to travel the world for several years, although they may think they have departed Australia permanently, as they do not have a permanent home elsewhere, this would not constitute a decision to permanently reside in another country. Australia would continue to be their home, even though they are absent from Australia for a prolonged period of time.

Since determining tax residency can be quite complex, it is important to speak to a tax specialist to understand your situation.

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United Kingdom Property and Tax Updated

Richard Feakins   |   9 Mar 2014   |   12 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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Disclaimer:
This document is intended as an information source only. The comments and references to legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this document to your fact scenario. Information in this publication does not take into account any person’s personal objectives, needs or financial situations. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any information, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before acting on it. CST Tax Advisors exclude all liability (including liability for negligence) in relation to your reliance in this publication.

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