STEP International News Digest wrap-up – March’s top stories


March was a busy month in the private wealth sector as jurisdictions around the world looked to build stronger information sharing agreements and increase transparency. Welcome to the wrap-up of the top ten most popular stories in the STEP International News Digest throughout March 2015. In case you missed them, here are the worldwide industry news stories most viewed by our readers.

Revised guidance on residence and domicile: The UK tax authority has published a revised guidance note for residents and non-residents on the residence, domicile and remittance basis rules for tax years 2012-2013 onwards.

Battery of good news for property investors: An expert in French property taxation discusses the recent positive changes in the real estate tax regime. They include: the single 19 per cent rate for all taxpayers; the end of the social contribution levy on non-residents’ rental income and capital gains; and the removal of the obligation on non-residents to appoint a fiscal representative when selling French property.

US highlights jurisdictions of ‘primary concern’: Part II of the 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report assesses ‘governments’ efforts to counter money laundering and terrorist financing’ in relation to the international drug trade. The report has named over 60 countries in its list of ‘countries of primary concern’ for money laundering and financial crimes.

UK government repeats registry demands on Overseas Territories: The UK government has written to the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands repeating its demand that they set up a central registry of private companies’ beneficial ownership, and asking them to supply an implementation timetable.

Nil reporting requirements and reporting deadlines: The US Internal Revenue Service has posted new clarifications of its guidance regarding the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, relating to Form 8966 reporting deadlines and nil reporting.

New Swiss-EU treaty will replace Savings Tax Agreement: Switzerland has signed an agreement to exchange bank account information automatically with the European Union from 2018, superseding the existing Savings Taxation Treaty. The European Commission is advising member states to encourage ‘regularisation of the past’ before automatic exchange is introduced.

RBC’s trust unit under investigation by French prosecutors: French prosecutors are attempting to bring charges of complicity in tax fraud against Royal Bank of Canada’s Bahamian trust subsidiary. RBC is opposing the prosecutors’ application to a French investigating judge concerning ‘actions taken relating to a trust for which RBC Bahamas currently serves as trustee’, which RBC says did not violate French law.

Regulations laid for CRS automatic exchange of information: The UK government has issued new regulations allowing it to automatically exchange bank account information with other jurisdictions under the OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS) system, or under the relevant European Directive and its FATCA agreement with the US.

Trusts with no US Reportable Accounts need not file ‘nil returns’ with HMRC: UK financial institutions (FIs) (including many trusts) with no US Reportable Accounts will now not need to file ‘nil returns’ to HM Revenue and Customs under the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. This has been welcomed by STEP, which notes that practitioners should still ensure that, where necessary, trusts have been registered with the US Internal Revenue Service and that the required due diligence is completed to establish if there are US Specified Persons connected to a trust.

Switzerland passes on to OECD phase two: Switzerland has been admitted to phase two of the OECD tax transparency forum’s peer review process, having satisfied the assessors that its law on international administrative assistance is adequate. The phase two assessment – to check whether Switzerland is providing effective exchange of information on request – is due in the second half of 2016.

The STEP Industry News Digests provide a round-up of relevant industry news for trust and estate practitioners and other professionals in the wealth management sector. They provide brief summaries of topical news stories gathered from news providers internationally, providing a quick reference for busy practitioners to all the relevant news and issues. The News Digests also feature job listings from our recruitment site and list local STEP branch events and conferences. STEP’s digest services include twice weekly UK and Wealth Structuring (international) editions as well as a bi-weekly North America Digest focusing on the US, Canada and Mexico, and a Latin America Digest.

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