Coming to the table to talk training

jennie_hutchinsonThese are exciting times for STEP’s Employer Training Scheme (ETS) as we continue to welcome new members to the pilot programme. The ETS is about helping employers of STEP students to plan and deliver the best possible learning experience and upskilling their staff to provide the highest quality service to clients.

We will have accredited ten members by early July – most recently welcoming HSBC Trustee (C.I.) Jersey, Bedell Group Services Jersey and First Names Group Jersey – and we are in dialogue with a number of other key employers of STEP students and members about working together in this important initiative.

We are now planning our first Employer Forum, which will be hosted by Vistra in Jersey in conjunction with STEP Jersey on 15 July. The event will kick off with STEP CEO David Harvey presenting certificates to new members. He will also outline the importance of the ETS in positioning STEP’s qualifications as career essential and ultimately in helping to improve standards within the industry.

Thereafter, accredited employer training partners will convene for a roundtable discussion forum chaired by STEP’s Professional Development Director, Nigel Race.  There will be ample opportunity for discussion and debate, which we see as being instrumental in shaping the future development of the ETS. The meeting will wrap up with an update from CPD Manager Val Cox on developments in STEP’s CPD requirements and provisions.   ETS LinkedIn

To learn more about STEP’s Employer Training Scheme and how you can become involved, please email us at ets@step.org

Jenni Hutchinson is STEP’s Head of Employer Engagement

The curious incident of the EU ‘blacklist’

George Hodgson

The publication on Wednesday 17 June by the EU Commission of a so-called ‘blacklist’ of 30 ‘non-cooperative’ jurisdictions which the Commission claims to not meet EU standards of transparency, exchange of information and fair tax competition is a curious piece of work. The Commission claims its list is based on equivalent lists by EU Member States. In fact, most EU Member States, including Germany, the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, have no such blacklist. Indeed out of 28 Member States it appears that only 12 actually have a blacklist for the Commission to base its work on.

Even more curiously, the Commission emphasises that these blacklists are based on compliance with transparency and exchange of information standards and absence of harmful tax measures, which sound reasonable and objective criterion. But of the 12 Member States with blacklists, ten are based to a greater or lesser extent on rather mysterious ‘other criterion’.
European flags in Brussels

Even those campaigning for tougher action on tax abuse are wary of this particular piece of Commission work, with one prominent activist describing it as ‘political sop’. It is, to say the least, hardly the best example of evidence-based policy making from the EU.

George Hodgson is Deputy Chief Executive of STEP

STEP North America News Digest wrap-up – May’s top stories

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Looming deadlines, the US campaign against tax evasion in Switzerland and the estate woes of a blues music legend. Welcome to the wrap-up of the top five most popular stories in the STEP North America News Digest throughout May 2015. In case you missed them, here are the top five US industry news stories most viewed by our readers.

Deadline approaches for US Form BE-10: The deadline to file the 2014 Benchmark Survey of US Direct Investment Abroad, or Form BE-10, for the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has been set for May 29, 2015. This law, which was changed in 2014, is applicable to ‘US trusts with offshore entities, even if the trust is not a US trust for tax purposes.’ Under this legislation, trusts, corporations and partnerships or LLCs, will have to abide by these rules regardless of their US tax classification.

Upcoming deadlines for Canadians: Law firm Moodys Gartner has listed upcoming reporting deadlines for Canadians arising from obligations under the US’ Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The total gross amount of interest, dividends or other income of custodial accounts is due to be reported before May 2, 2016.

Las Vegas judge dismisses petition to take PoA from B B King’s manager: A Clark County judge has denied a petition by three of B B King’s children to take over legal control of the Blues artist’s affairs from his long-time manager, Laverne Toney. They accuse Toney of stealing King’s money, neglecting his medical needs and preventing family and friends from visiting him. This decision does not preclude further action as the petition may be pressed if all of King’s surviving children and grandchildren receive legal notice.

Expatriate games: With a number of US citizens renouncing their citizenship, Kevyn Nightingale TEP explains that the problem is not tax but rather the filing obligations.

US government’s success against tax evaders is “exaggerated”: An article in The Economist magazine suggests that the US’ enforcement campaign against Swiss tax evasion has not been as energetic and effective as it claims. It has “pulled punches with the biggest banks” for fear of destabilising markets, and bungled some of the individual investigations and prosecutions, says the magazine, noting that the Internal Revenue Service’s chief counsel is a former lobbyist for the Swiss Bankers Association.

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. STEP’s news digest services include twice weekly UK and International editions as well as a bi-weekly North America Digest (focusing on the US, Canada and Mexico), and a Latin America Digest.

To subscribe to STEP’s digest services you will need to first register here: http://www.step.org/register

STEP LatAm News Digest wrap-up – May’s top stories

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Struggling to hold a grasp on the myriad developments in the Latin American private wealth industry? Welcome to the wrap-up of the top five most popular stories in the STEP LatAm News Digest throughout May 2015. In case you missed them, here are the worldwide industry news stories most viewed by our readers.

Bank of America cancelled Belize correspondent banking operation: Bank of America cancelled its correspondent banking operation with the domestic and international branches of Belize Bank, as part of a ‘de-risking’ strategy forced on the US banking industry by federal regulators.

Costa Rica bill would allow tax authority to seize assets without court order: According to news reports, Costa Rica is debating plans to enable its tax authority to seize the property and bank accounts of taxpayers who have not paid their taxes without the need for a court order or judicial review.

Argentina tax authority toughened money laundering policies for Swiss account holders: The Federal Administration of Public Income (AFIP) updated its money laundering regulations for Swiss bank account holders. The National Congressional Bicameral Commission, which is headed by Roberto Feletti, decided to set tougher guidelines on the externalization of foreign currency.

Venezuela’s President Maduro called for Panama money laundering investigation: The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, convened a special investigation into money laundering through the use of Panamanian entities. Maduro reportedly said that on a recent visit to Panama he saw “a large amount of gross wealth and opulence shown by Venezuelans living there”.

Argentina prosecuted three people for capital flight and tax evasion: Two Argentinians (Lisandro Barbuy and Omar Barbuy) and an Uruguyan citizen (Ana María Villanueva) were prosecuted as part of a joint investigation between the authorities of the two countries into tax evasion, capital flight and smuggling. According to Argentina’s tax authority (Administración Federal de Impuestos Públicos, AFIP) the three ran a shell company in Uruguay that overcharged by 20 percent merchandise purchased in China with the aim of evading paying taxes and capital flight.

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. STEP’s news digest services include twice weekly UK and International editions as well as a bi-weekly North America Digest (focusing on the US, Canada and Mexico), and a Latin America Digest.

To subscribe to STEP’s digest services you will need to first register here: http://www.step.org/register

Follow @STEPLatAm for regular industry news across the region.

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

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As the sun sets on May there have been plenty of private wealth developments to consider. Welcome to the wrap-up of the top ten most popular stories in the STEP International News Digest throughout May 2015. In case you missed them, here are the worldwide industry news stories most viewed by our readers.

Beneficial ownership registers likely to go live by July 2017: This week the European Parliament formally voted to endorse the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, mandating beneficial ownership registers of companies and trusts in all EU member states. The final text is likely to be gazetted in June or July, triggering the start of the two-year countdown to the directive’s implementation by each country.

Taxpayers with foreign interests must file BE-10 by tomorrow or pay heavy fines: Practitioners with US clients are being warned of a largely unknown filing requirement that must be fulfilled by 29 May (tomorrow) on penalty of a fine of at least USD2,500. The form, BE-10, must be filed with the US Bureau of Economic Affairs by all US persons who owned 10 per cent or more of a foreign corporation – or an equivalent interest in a foreign trust or other unincorporated enterprise – at any time during the 2014 fiscal year.

Suspected foreign accountholders identified in official gazette: The Swiss government has published in its official gazette the names or initials and dates of birth of certain Swiss bank clients whose account details are about to be passed to a foreign government. It claims the policy is dictated by its legal duty to warn the clients of the impending disclosures, even when the client’s current address is not known.

Implications of general election result for non-doms: Law firm Withers predicts that the Conservative victory in last week’s UK general election will bring further increases in the remittance basis charge for resident non-doms, a reform of the rules under which non-domicile status can be inherited and of the treatment of long-term non-doms.

Guernsey consults on public register: Guernsey’s government has begun a consultation on transparency of beneficial ownership of companies, in response to international pressure for public registers of ownership.

Deadline imminent for non-doms to opt out of automatic account reporting: UK-resident non-domiciles only have a few days left to opt out of having full details of their Cayman or BVI bank accounts reported to HM Revenue and Customs, under Britain’s automatic information exchange agreement with these jurisdictions. Non-doms who elect for the Alternative Reporting Regime must contact the financial institution or trustee that holds their account to self-certify their UK tax status.

OECD approval uncertain over tax transparency request procedures: The Swiss government and parliament are negotiating how the country should respond to foreign governments’ requests for bank account information, when the requests result from stolen data. Unless Switzerland can agree a satisfactory compromise, it risks failing the second phase of its OECD tax transparency review later this year.

Foreign ownership disclosure deadline is close: Individuals and companies classed as Russian tax-resident must submit their foreign ownership notification forms by 15 June, under the first stage of the Federation’s deoffshorisation laws. They must disclose interests in excess of 10 per cent in all non-Russian companies, and in unincorporated structures including trusts of which a Russian resident is a settlor, beneficiary or ‘controlling person’.

Suspected foreign accountholders identified in official gazette: The Swiss government has published in its official gazette the names or initials and dates of birth of certain Swiss bank clients whose account details are about to be passed to a foreign government. It claims the policy is dictated by its legal duty to warn the clients of the impending disclosures, even when the client’s current address is not known.

Citizenship renunciations break another record: Some 1,335 Americans renounced their citizenship in the first three months of 2015, breaking the previous quarterly record by 18 per cent. Last year the annual total of renunciations reached 3,415, in a trend thought to be driven by increasingly onerous tax reporting requirements such as FBARs and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

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.

To subscribe to STEP’s digest services you will need to first register here: http://www.step.org/register

STEP UK News Digest wrap-up – May’s top stories

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So busy that important developments are flying by? Welcome to the wrap-up of the top ten most popular stories in STEP’s online UK Digests throughout May 2015 as clicked by our readers.

Promoters of asset protection trusts jailed for mis-selling: Eight people have received prison sentences for mis-selling so-called asset protection trusts to elderly clients with a fraudulent promise that the trust plans would protect their homes against local authority residential care charges.

Inheritance tax concession omitted from Queen’s Speech: Bills announced in the new government’s Queen’s Speech include a Finance Bill preventing rises in income tax, VAT and national insurance; a Scotland Bill devolving further tax-raising powers to Holyrood; and an Enterprise Bill to ‘reduce red tape on business’.

Court revokes trust transfer that triggered IHT charges:The England and Wales High Court has agreed to set aside a man’s gift of a house into trust for his daughter that attracted an unexpected inheritance tax (IHT) charge of GBP156,000. Charles Freedman’s advisor had not realised that rules in the Finance Act 2006 meant that the gift would be a lifetime chargeable transfer for IHT purposes, triggering an immediate 20 per cent entry charge plus further ten-yearly and exit charges (Freedman v Freedman, 2015 EWHC 1457 Ch).

Pension freedom will promote trust-based planning: The new freedom to cash in defined-contribution pension pots, introduced in April, is likely to encourage trust-based inheritance-tax planning, according to financial advisors.

Family lose challenge on ‘want of knowledge’ grounds: The family of the late Ronald Butcher has failed to overturn a will in which he left his entire GBP500,000 to a friend. The England and Wales High Court decided that the will was executed with Butcher’s knowledge and approval, in part because he had prepared it himself from a template (Sharp v Hutchins, 2015 EWHC 1240 Ch).

Public Guardian must register LPA despite multiple complex conditionals: The donor of an English lasting power of attorney has the right to impose any number of conditions specifying when and how it can be used, the Court of Protection has declared. Lush J ruled that the Office of the Public Guardian had no right to make a ‘paternalistic judgement’ on behalf of the wealthy donor by refusing to register his LPA (Re XZ, 2015 EWCOP 35).

Rights associated with digital information: The 20th edition of Executors, Administrators and Probate by Williams Mortimer & Sunnucks will include a chapter contributed by New Square Chambers on the administration of digital information as part of the deceased’s estate. An extract is available free from the firm’s website.

Husband’s trust could be varied to provide for wife: The England and Wales Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by Mostyn J in which he awarded a divorcing wife GBP157,000 from a trust of which her husband was the main beneficiary. The husband’s father, who was the settlor, opposed the award on the grounds that the trust was not a nuptial settlement that could be varied under s24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (P v P, 2015 EWCA Civ 447).

New tax guidance for property rentals: HM Revenue & Customs has issued an updated version of its guidance on income from rented properties.

Inheritance invalidates ‘needs-based’ foundation in financial provision settlement: A man has lost his share in his former matrimonial home because he inherited GBP180,000 from his father just after separating. The England and Wales Court of Appeal agreed with the man’s former wife that her settlement should be substantially varied in her favour, because the legacy had invalidated the needs-based foundation of the original consent order (Critchell v Critchell, 2015 EWCA Civ 436).

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.

To subscribe to STEP’s digest services you will need to first register here: http://www.step.org/register