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

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