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Expat Tax Planning in 2019

Calendar PlannerTax planning should be a New Year priority for any British citizen who has recently become an expat.

Just last year HM Revenue & Customs increased its efforts to ensure expats met their full tax obligations and has begun to successfully use EU laws that encourage co-operation between member states. “We will not hesitate to use all legal means to collect taxes that are owed,” commented an HMRC spokesperson. Despite this tough talking, the EU this year criticised the UK for its poor record of cross-border tax collection.

It is important to remember that although the HMRC’s new stricter approach remains at an early stage, it is already paying dividends for the government, which estimates that it lost £1.7bn in tax revenue in 2016-17, compared to £4bn in 2011-12. Furthermore, 1,006 requests for tax information were made to EU authorities in 2017. This resulted in the recovery of £5 million. In comparison, similar requests in 2013 yielded just £800,000.

Spain Axes Expat Mortgage Tax

Euro coinsSpanish property ownership is a fairly common part of many expat wealth management strategies. However, Spanish taxes have been known to present obstacles to some expats in this regard and the uptake of both home ownership and property investment in Spain has suffered as a result.

Previously, the law held that expat buyers must pay mortgage tax out of their own pockets, which, as well as being an administrative annoyance also left many expats feeling a little like second-class citizens; however, with changes recently introduced by parliament, the tax will instead be paid by the bank financing the mortgage, with the new rules taking effect immediately.

The New 30% Ruling – Make the Most of Your Tax Break Now

Alarm clockDespite the protestations of expats in the Netherlands, expat financial advisers and business leaders, the Dutch cabinet recently announced that it would proceed with plans to reduce the favourable 30% expat ruling from eight to five years.

However, there will now be a transitional period for certain expatriates, meaning they will have time to consult their expat financial advisers in the Netherlands to take the necessary tax planning steps to adjust to the new landscape. Nevertheless, there are still a number of consequences associated with changes to the 30% tax break that need to be explored. Here we will attempt to bring some clarity to those who may be affected by the new rules.

Do you want HUGE tax efficiency for your savings in France?

Calculator and coins in a viceWhen I first meet a client it takes time for us to get to know each other, and every single person is different with different needs. However, at the root of those needs is usually the desire to find out how best to keep all those hard earned savings, investments and pensions as tax efficient as possible.

Once you have left the UK and become resident in France, the ISAs and other tax efficient savings you may hold in the UK are no longer tax-free and you need to give careful consideration about how you deal with this.  With the new Common Reporting Standards that were introduced recently we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and think that the French taxman will not know about the assets you have left in the UK and will not look to tax you accordingly.

Tax and Benefits Across Borders – Don’t Get Caught Out

Calculator with Euro buttonLiving as an expat in Spain, or indeed in any other country, brings particular and sometimes very complex wealth management requirements because managing personal finances across multiple jurisdictions is inherently complex and invariably requires specialist advice.

This goes some way to explain why thousands of British expats have recently been caught and penalised for either failing to pay taxes or unlawfully claiming British pension and other social security benefits while living and, in some cases, working abroad.

Cross-border taxation for expats is a notoriously confusing area of wealth management and can seem especially onerous with new data sharing and enforcement rules in place. Unfortunately, not all asset managers are as familiar with tax reporting requirements as they should be. This may seem inconceivable, but wealth management professionals in Spain, across Europe and indeed the globe have an obligation to clients to ensure that they understand and follow all the rules.

Spanish Tax Office’s Gibraltar crackdown

Spanish newspaper ABC has reported that tax authorities in the country are cracking down on expats who fraudulently claim Gibraltar residency for the purposes of wealth management.

Apparently the measures have already led to the collection of €20 million from 160 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) claiming residency in Gibraltar when in fact they lived in nearby Andalucía. This meant that, on average, €125,000 was collected from each HNWI.

Jorge Ramírez, a representative of the Tax Agency in Andalucía, told the newspaper, "A tracking system was used to collect verifiable documentary evidence, and we found some Gibraltarians whose primary financial interests were actually entirely situated in Spain."

Dutch Tax Exemption Rule Change Hits Expats

Pen and checkboxOpposition to the imminent changes to the Dutch 30% tax reimbursement scheme (see the Blacktower news feed) is growing. Now, VCP, the Dutch white collar workers’ union, has joined the dissenters by calling for, at the very least, a transition period for expat workers who will suffer unwanted changes to their Netherlands wealth management plans as a result of the amendments.

It is easy to see why so many people find the timetable for the ruling so unjust; those affected could see their incomes reduced by around 20% once the ruling comes into force in under six months.

It could also result in unwanted damage to the Dutch economy, with real fears that it could deter expat workers from coming to the Netherlands in the first place.

Tax and the Big Decision – Buying a Property in Spain

As I sit in my back garden, in "good ol' Blighty", I often watch the planes flying overhead. My house is on several major flight paths which cross the country and the Manchester to Marbella flights are a regular feature in the blue skies of June.

As the summer holidays kick in, I wonder how many passengers on these flights will fall so in love with their destination that they take a sneaky look at property for sale, and how many will dream of retirement in Spain or even make it a firm plan?

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