Important tax changes for non-doms
Significant changes affecting the UK tax status of non-domiciled individuals (non-doms) take effect on 6 April 2017 – and have far-reaching consequences for the majority of those who have previously enjoyed the tax breaks associated with non-dom status, regardless of whether they were initially born overseas or in the UK.
The remittance basis and the new 15/20-year rule
Under the new changes, non-domiciled individuals who have been a resident in the UK for 15 of the past 20 financial years will now be considered domiciled in the UK for all associated tax purposes, regardless of when they arrived.
This legislative change, known as ‘the 15/20-year rule’ effectively means that such individuals will no longer be entitled to claim the remittance basis for Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax (CGT) purposes. This means that those affected will be subject to UK tax on their worldwide income and gains.
Furthermore, for those who previously had a domicile of origin in the UK and later moved abroad, thus acquiring a domicile elsewhere, their UK domiciled status will be immediately reinstated if they return to the UK.
Non-doms’ residential property subject to UK Inheritance Tax
As of 6 April 2017, non-doms who hold UK residential property indirectly through an overseas intermediary, such as an offshore trust, will see such properties subject to UK Inheritance Tax (IHT).
Previously, residential property held in such structures would be overlooked as ‘excluded’, but under the new rules, such property – however held – will be within the scope of IHT. This means that UK IHT will be payable upon any significant IHT event, including a death, gift or ten year anniversary of a trust.
Grace period for ‘mixed funds’
Non-doms with offshore funds made up of untaxed foreign income and gains will be granted a grace period of two years from April 2017’ to rearrange these mixed funds, sell any assets and separate any funds into their constituent parts of foreign income, foreign gains and clean capital. The latter can then be remitted from their segregated clean capital account in line with previous rules.
This gives an opportunity for people to reorganise their affairs to benefit more from the remittance basis where this is still available, or where it has been used previously, as those old unremitted monies remain liable to UK tax under the remittance basis, even if they are now subject to tax on an arising basis.
Under these rules, excluded property trusts can be used as an important planning tool as they will remain an effective way of sheltering assets from UK Inheritance Tax before an individual becomes domicile.
This will also apply to those who are newly ‘deemed domiciled’ under the 15/20-year rule.
If you are concerned that these important changes to the taxation of non-doms are likely to affect you, please contact us. If you are able to get in touch sooner rather than later, our experts can determine the wider implications of these tax changes, how you will be personally affected and how we might be able to help you to mitigate any potentially heavy tax charges.
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A response to a freedom of information request has revealed that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) cancelled 270,000 late penalty notices in 2016.
However, this figure was dwarfed by the 610,000 cancellations in 2015 and the 400,000 cancellations in 2014.
The request was made by a partner in a ‘magic circle’ law firm, who was himself issued with a late penalty notice, despite having submitted his tax return in December, ahead of the 31 January deadline.
Despite having filed on time, when HMRC overturned the penalty in March this year, it nevertheless issued a letter, stating “if you file on time we won’t charge penalties”.
While HMRC revealed the number of late penalty notices that were cancelled over the three-year period, it did not disclose how many of these were the consequence of errors on the part of the Revenue, as opposed to the taxpayer having a reasonable excuse for late filing.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns. Taxpayers with a reasonable excuse for filing late or who have been taken out of SA do not have to pay penalties. Taxpayers who file on time are not issued with penalties.”