Modernising Lasting Powers of Attorney

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) jointly initiated a project to modernise the process of making and registering lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) in England and Wales in November 2020. STEP was invited to sit on the Modernising Lasting Powers of Attorney (MLPA) stakeholder working group and has attended various workshops over the past six months to help shape and develop the consultation.

The consultation deadline recently passed on 13th October and STEP has submitted a formal response. The consultation seeks views on seven specific proposals that the government is considering and a summary follows below of STEP’s response to each proposal.

Proposal One, Role of witness, considers the role and value of witnesses and how to keep that value.

The OPG proposes to remove the need for a witness and/or replace the witness with new safeguards that perform the same function. STEP strongly opposes the suggestion that the protection provided by witnesses’ offers little or no value to the process. LPAs should retain their status and safeguard as a legal deed with the requisite formalities and all signatures should be witnessed by independent witnesses.

Proposal Two, Role of application, considers the role of applying to register an LPA and who can apply.

We agree that there are benefits to the proposal to digitally check the registrations, particularly in reducing the chance of delay and rejection. We also feel strongly that a paper version and application process should remain available to the elderly or vulnerable who have no internet access or IT facilities. We stress that even if ID verification online is technologically robust, there will be a small demographic, usually the more elderly, that do not have access to a computer or smartphone for verification.

Proposal Three, OPG remit, considers the OPG’s remit and examines how to widen it so that it can verify people’s identity and stop or delay an LPA’s registration if it has concerns about it.

We agree that there needs to be more advanced identity checks for donors, which would consequently improve safeguards, since identity fraud and theft are currently accessible. We suggest that the OPG should require suitable identification for all parties to the LPA including passport details and address confirmation. We also advise that indemnity bond insurance, subject to a minimum value set at a relatively low amount by the OPG, should be in place for all attorneys in case of malfeasance, fraud or similar wrongdoing.

Proposal Four, How to object, considers how people can object to an LPA and how to simplify the current process so people can more easily understand where to send objections and how to do so.

We agree with the proposal that anyone should be able to object to an LPA at any time. However we have suggested that this course of action should be aligned with a signposting and public awareness campaign detailing the limits of attorneys’ powers.

Proposal Five, When to object, considers when people can object and examines at what point and for how long objections can be made before an LPA is registered.

We suggest that the time should be shortened between an LPA being sent for registration and it being placed onto the register. We propose that a two-week waiting period plus one week for processing would be appropriate with a total four-week deadline for an online or paper return.

Proposal Six, Speed of service, considers the speed of the LPA service and whether a dedicated faster service should be introduced for people who need an LPA urgently.

We believe that an urgent service would provide additional benefits. If the service is implemented we suggest that the specific reason for the urgency should be shown, with a limited tick-box menu, and the requisite proof should be required by the OPG. However, we reinforce that if the overall registration period is reduced (proposal Five) then the number of cases where urgent service would be required would be very low.

Proposal Seven, Solicitor access to the service,considers solicitors’ access to the service.

The online service is welcomed, subject to the retained safeguards. However, the current inability to save the online deed to the relevant client file is a significant disadvantage to this system, and this needs to be addressed before this procedure becomes compulsory for practitioners. We understand that this service will be accessible by other professionals, such as estate planners, will writers, charities etc. and not just solicitors, which is important.

We also recommend that dropdown menus are included in the online deeds, including precedent clauses with wording approved by the OPG and the relevant expert professional bodies, to cover matters such as continuing to be able to use or to set up an investment management arrangement with a discretionary fund manager. This would benefit all, including lay applicants. STEP has also reinforced that it is essential that any new online system is securely piloted within the industry before it is implemented.

STEP’s full response to the consultation can be found here and we will keep member apprised of any further developments in this area.

Emily Deane TEP Technical Counsel


EU announces Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Package 2021

Money Laundering and the efforts of governments to combat it and increase transparency and reporting of ownership globally continue to be a hot topic.

One body that has been looking at this area is the European Union, which is in the process of launching its new Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Package 2021.

This package was explored in detail at a recent webinar hosted by Anti-Money Laundering Europe (AME). The main objectives of the Package are to support:

  • Greater harmonisation of transposing EU AML and countering the funding of terrorism (CFT) law into national law,
  • Greater supervision at EU level, and
  • Better coordination of financial intelligence units (FIUs).

Paolo Panico TEP, Chair of STEP Europe, chaired the panel, which comprised:

  • Steve Ryan, Deputy Head of Unit D2, DG FISMA at the European Commission
  • Endija Springe, Policy Expert at the European Banking Authority (EBA), and
  • Anabela Santos, Technical Consultant at the Portuguese Chartered Accountants Association.

The panel discussed the European Commission’s new AML Package 2021, which delivers on the Commission’s action plan of 7 May and was put forward on 20 July for discussion by the European Parliament and Council. The EU’s intention is to achieve the Package through regulation, a new directive and a new AML authority.

These rules will include customer due diligence, harmonised beneficial ownership requirements and clear reporting obligations. There would be further alignment with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), with the EU also creating a black list and grey list (as FATF does). A listing by FATF will also now trigger an EU listing and obligatory enhanced due diligence (EDD) and countermeasures proportionate to risks stemming from the relevant country.

The announcement of the Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, ((EU) 2018/1673) or AMLD6, is another part of the Package. The Directive will have stronger mechanisms at national level and will:

  • Govern the tasks and powers of supervisors
  • Give public oversight over self-regulatory bodies
  • Have joint analysis of Financial Information Units (FIUs), and
  • Grant powers for beneficial ownership registers to carry out checks and issue sanctions.

The other part of the Package was the new AML authority (AMLA), which aims to transform the landscape of AML/CFT supervision in the EU and will come into force in 2024. It will do this by:

  • Establishing a single integrated system of AML supervision across the EU based on common supervisory methodologies
  • Directly supervising some of the most risky institutions, and
  • Supporting cooperation and joint analyses by national FIUs and facilitating communication among them.

It was reported that the new regulations and AMLD6 will only start to apply in 2026 as the AMLA needs to be up and running to prepare regulatory technical standards that will complete the single rule book.

The EBA gave its support for the new framework and proposal, and asked that the Commission try to avoid silos, balance greater harmonisation with a risk-based approach and ensure effective and efficient governance of the AMLA.

Delegates also heard that a lot of work needs to be done to create effective infrastructure and avoid it being seen as a burdensome bureaucracy.

Robert Carington is Policy Executive at STEP

Why inclusive elections lead to better outcomes

It is National Inclusion Week in the UK (27 September to 3 October).

Inclusion Week celebrates everyday inclusion in all its forms. This is the ninth year that organisations from across the globe have come together to celebrate, share and inspire inclusion practices.

Every year National Inclusion Week has a theme and in 2021 it is about unity. That feels like the perfect theme for an organisation such as STEP.

We have had a number of valuable discussions at our global Board and Council meetings about what STEP should do in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I). As a global professional body, comprising lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, trust officers and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures, we are, by our very nature, diverse. Our 22,000 members practise in around 100 countries and we have branches spread across more than 50 countries/territories. Our members advise in a broad range of practice areas.

Our work was prompted by some reflection among the Board that we had nothing to say in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd because we had no demonstrable actions in place that could make a difference. We didn’t want to be ‘virtue signalling’. It was also clear from those discussions that there is a sense that taking action towards greater equality and inclusion is simply the right thing to do morally.

We noted our ‘Community’ value – ‘we respect each other and value diversity’. For those who prefer measurable drivers, the business case is strong. Organisations who actively engage and take action around ED&I take better decisions and get better results.

Board and Council agreed that we should focus initial ED&I work on making sure that STEP has the right mix of people to support good governance and performance through having a broad range of perspectives contributing to the decisions that we make.

As a global professional membership organisation, diversity is less the issue – we have members all over the globe. Nevertheless, as we think about inclusion do we have sufficient diversity actively engaged? An action plan is being developed by a Council working group to consider that question and how we might answer it.

As we head into STEP’s Council elections, there is the opportunity for all of our members to play their part in driving inclusion. Whether that is standing for election, exercising your vote or championing another to do the same – all these actions can help us to ensure we have great governance through a diverse set of views and opinions in our decision-making bodies.

Mark Walley, CEO

How will the new social care system in England work?

Emily Deane TEP

The Health and Social Care Levy Bill 2021-22 was introduced on 8 September 2021. [1] It will increase income tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) to raise an additional GBP11.4 billion to reform the funding of long-term health and social care over the next three years. The additional funding, which is being introduced as a new tax, is called the Health and Social Care Levy and will apply to the whole of the UK.

The policy will implement a cap of GBP86,000 on an individual’s lifetime care costs in England and raise the means-testing threshold for state contributions to the cost of care to GBP100,000. The GBP86,000 cap applies to personal care costs, rather than accommodation, in England and does not apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have separate care regimes. This distinction between care costs and accommodation is new, and therefore not something that care homes have previously needed to include in their billing structures. It is not yet clear what impact this change will have.

The tax implementation
From April 2022, there will be a temporary 1.25 per cent increase to both the main and additional rates of Class 1, Class 1A, Class 1B and Class 4 NICs for the 2022/23 tax year. Revenue raised will go directly to support the NHS and equivalent bodies across the UK.

From April 2023 onwards, the NIC rates will decrease back to 2021/22 tax year levels and be replaced by a new 1.25 per cent Health and Social Care Levy where the revenue will be ring-fenced to support UK health and social care bodies. From 2023, people over the state pension age will also be included in paying the Levy.

From April 2022, all rates of UK dividend tax will increase by 1.25 per cent. This change will be scored at the Budget and legislated for in the next Finance Bill.

The current system
At its stands at present an individual’s assets will be assessed by the local council to decide how much they should contribute towards their own care. This assessment is also known as the means test. The current situation is as follows:
• If you have more than GBP23,250, you have to fund your own care and there is no limit to how much you might need to pay during your lifetime.
• If you have between GBP14,250 and GBP23,250, your local council will contribute towards your care (until your assets are reduced to GBP14,250).
• If you have less than GBP14,250, your care will be fully funded.

The new system
• From October 2023 if you have assets worth less than GBP20,000 your local council will have to cover all of your care costs.
• If you have assets between GBP20,000 and GBP100,000 you will be expected to contribute to the cost of care, but will also be eligible for state support covering some of the costs. This support will be means tested.
• You will not have to pay more than GBP86,000 for care in your lifetime, which the government has stated is roughly equivalent to three years of care.

The new system intends that no one will have to pay more than GBP86,000 for care in their lifetime, which is progressive and certainly an improvement on the existing system. However, it will not help to tackle some of the existing shortfalls in care needs. There are also doubts about whether this level of funding will sufficiently cover the cost of care over three years particularly in parts of the country where it is significantly more expensive and any deficit in fees will probably need to be topped up.

Improvements
The new policy has the potential to help people plan for their old age with more confidence. Limiting the lifetime contribution to care also means that some clients will be able to make provision for their children and family members with more certainty. In addition, the system will become fairer because people who pay for their own care will not have to pay more than a state funded individual for the same level of care. Historically, local councils have had different policies and procedures in place when it comes to assessing and providing care, which can cause financial distress and confusion. As the new system is developed, it would be helpful if national government could provide local councils with clearer and more consistent procedures to enhance the transparency of the universal care system.

Exploitation
There is always concern that individuals can be exploited when it comes to planning ahead for care costs since it is such an emotive and financially burdensome milestone in someone’s life. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous providers in the market promise clients that by setting up a trust they can exclude assets from means testing for care fees. This is not acceptable practice and breaches STEP’s Code of Professional Conduct.

If a local authority suspects that there has been a deliberate ‘deprivation of assets’ to avoid care fees then it may pursue penalties, insolvency proceedings, county court judgements and sometimes a criminal record. We hope that the intended new plans will provide sufficient clarity and transparency so that people no longer feel that they have to go to these desperate, and potentially criminal, lengths to secure their future in care or to avoid paying for it. More client information on this is available on our public-facing website here.

The government has mentioned in its proposals that it intends to encourage insurance companies to implement new products to help finance future social care costs, which could be valuable for families and practitioners in the estate planning process. We await further details from the government on all of these proposals and will provide updates on any developments.

Emily Deane TEP, STEP Technical Counsel

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-andsocial-care-levy/health-and-social-care-l

UK Ministry of Justice enacts video-witnessing of wills

Gavel And A Last Will And Testament

The UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has today announced the implementation of secondary legislation under the Electronic Communications Act 2000 that can be applied retrospectively to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on 31 January. The new legislation, which only applies in England and Wales, enables individuals to video-witness the execution of their wills if they are unable to observe the normal formalities, and cannot have two independent witnesses present. Therefore if someone is isolating and there is no feasible way to arrange for witnesses to be there, they can video record themselves executing their own will and it will be legally valid.

The fight against COVID-19 has made the will writing process even more complicated with social distancing and self-isolation throwing up some difficulties for people looking to get their will written. It has been possible to speak to a will writer over the phone or via video conference in order to draft a will; however, to be valid, a will must be signed by two witnesses present at the same time. The witnesses must be independent and cannot be beneficiaries of the will or related to the person that the will applies to.  For some, it may have been possible to enlist neighbours and arrange a situation where all are able to see each other while maintaining the requisite distance, but for others, for example vulnerable people, or people confined to bed or in hospital, this has not been possible.

STEP has been in discussion with the MoJ since the lockdown was enforced and has welcomed the introduction of video conference witnessing of wills, which removes the need for any physical witnesses at all. Of course, not everyone has access to laptops or mobile phones with video facilities, which would exclude a small part of the population, but it can work for the majority. Whilst the government has maintained the current law, it has effectively been condoning gatherings of at least three people from two of more households, and has been putting people at risk of catching or spreading the virus.

We are delighted that the government has responded to our calls to allow will witnessing by video facility. By removing the need for any physical witnesses, wills can continue to be drawn up efficiently, effectively and safely by those isolating. We also endorse the move to apply this retrospectively, which will provide reassurance to anyone who has had no choice but to execute a will in this manner prior to this legislation being enacted.  The legislation is anticipated to come into force in September 2020 and will be in force for two years until 31 January 2022. Practitioners should be aware of the sunset clause and make sure that any remote execution takes place prior to the expiry of the legislation.

STEP has prepared some guidance for members, with thanks to our working group comprising Paul Saunders TEP, Jennie Pratt TEP, Amanda Simmonds TEP, Leigh Sagar TEP, Charlotte John TEP, Charlie Tee TEP and Laura Kermally TEP.  However we are keen to reinforce that the new remote method of witnessing should not be a substitute for the conventional method of physical witnesses. The remote method should only be used in an emergency when conventional witnessing is impossible and extreme caution is required when taking this course of action.

Emily Deane TEP, STEP Technical Counsel

HMCTS announces interim operational arrangements

emily-deane-tep-2018-v2Update 25 August 2020: HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has provided some further guidance in relation to submitting England and Wales probate applications in the correct format:

  1. If you have lodged an application through the online portal using your registered account you do not need to send any application forms, when you send in the will and other supporting documents. If you send either of the application forms, PA1P or PA1A, this will delay your application. Please only send in the supporting documents requested on the summary page.
  2. Form PA13 is only for use by personal applicants and not to be used by legal professionals. Please lodge the usual lost will affidavit and supporting exhibits. Changes are being made to GOV.UK and form PA13 to show only for use by personal applicants. Using form PA13 will delay your application if you have not provided an affidavit.

More information on on how to apply online is provided here: www.gov.uk/guidance/hmcts-online-services-for-legal-professionals.

Update 11 June 2020: HMCTS has published the attached FAQ document (pdf) for professional users of the Probate Service to support professionals with online applications. HMCRS has confirmed that this is a working document which it intends to continually update as the process continues to evolve.

If you have any feedback on the FAQs please send your comments to [email protected].

Update 1 May 2020: HMCTS met with STEP, the Law Society, SFE and ICAEW this week for its regular Probate Service meeting. The following updates were provided:

  • The combined form is timetabled for approximately two weeks’ time and a formal notification will be provided.
  • Partners who are Executors are now able to make online applications.
  • Trust corporations and others which are currently unable to apply online will be added to the process over the next couple of months.
  • HMRC intends to start sending IHT421 forms directly to the Probate Registry within 15 days of issue. A formal notification will follow when this has been implemented.

We have requested an additional meeting in the next ten days to discuss specific form issues with HMCTS and the Probate Registrar. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have issues that you would like to be reported.

HMCTS has also enquired whether firms are struggling to get the original wills to the Probate Registry during remote working. Please do let us know if this is the case.

Original blog: HMCTS has announced some interim operational arrangements that it will be making in light of the COVID-19 restrictions. The key changes will relate to the following areas:

  • acceptance of statements of truth in place of affidavits,
  • guidance on the signing/witnessing of renunciations and powers of attorney,
  • Statutory Instrument 2020 No 33: The Administration of Estates Act 1925 (Fixed Net Sum) Order,
  • probate practitioner forms and electronic signatures.

Acceptance of statements of truth in place of affidavits 

Statements of truth can be accepted in place of affidavits in the following circumstances:

  • identity of executor,
  • misrecital of date of will in codicil (if rectification not required under S20 Administration of Justice Act 1982),
  • Rule 41 – amendment of grant,
  • Rule 41 – revocation of grant,
  • Rules 30(1) (a),(b) and (c),
  • Rule 35(4),
  • Rule 13 (knowledge of content of will),
  • Rule 14 (alterations in will),
  • Rule 15 (attempted revocation of will).

HMCTS is awaiting further advice in relation to the acceptance of statements of truth for use in applications that specify evidence must be submitted by affidavit.

Guidance on the signing/witnessing of renunciations and powers of attorney 

Documents including renunciations and powers of attorney that are required to be signed as a deed before a disinterested witness may be effected in the usual way using any method of signing/witnessing that can be achieved under the safe distancing measures currently specified by the government. HMCTS will not look beyond any document that is submitted that is signed and witnessed in the usual way, including the use of electronic signatures.

Statutory Instrument 2020 No 33: The Administration of Estates Act 1925 (Fixed Net Sum) Order 

With effect from 6 February 2020 the fixed net sum for spouses and civil partners of persons who have died after that date without leaving a will has been increased to GBP270,000. If you have been issued with a grant of Letters of Administration since 6 February 2020 and you believe the entitlement to the estate may have been affected by this, you are advised not to administer the estate and, if you are a personal applicant, to seek legal advice.

Probate practitioner forms and electronic signatures 

HMCTS has received queries from practitioners in respect of whether the new forms are for use by practitioners and personal applicants. These forms will become a combined form for use by both at the end of the transitional period and will be uploaded as a combined form on the gov.uk website.

For clarity, the links to all the relevant paper forms for probate professional practitioners only to use are:

You can find where to send your forms at the Directory of probate registries and appointment venues (PA4SOT).

Please note: All forms for practitioner use contain the following statement in the title for probate professional practitioners only. If this statement is not included, the application is only for the use of personal applicants at this stage.

‘HMCTS advises that any new work which is undertaken should now be completed by either using the new paper application forms (electronic signatures including typed signatures will be accepted) or you could alternatively apply online. HMCTS is actively encouraging the use of online applications as this enables us to maintain the service whilst many of our staff are also remote working.’

For further information on how to apply online, please use HMCTS online services for legal professionals.

STEP will continue to keep you apprised of any changes to the service made by HMCTS.

Emily Deane TEP, STEP Technical Counsel

What can you do to improve employee engagement?

Christopher TaliaWe all know that employee engagement is important, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get right. Next month’s STEP Employer Partnership Programme (EPP) Summer Forum will look at this key area, and help you devise a strategy that works for your organisation.

Employee engagement can mean different things to different people. Some will see it as recognition, others as financial reward. No matter how you view it, employee engagement holds three distinctive characteristics: realising employee potential; clear and shared organisational goals; and promoting employee wellbeing.

Many organisations fall short of achieving one, or all of these factors, leaving employees feeling under-appreciated, and in turn, unwilling to perform at their full potential. So how can employers bridge the ‘employee engagement’ gap while ensuring business success?

The forum, Employee engagement: boosting employee capability and potential for business success, will be hosted by Platinum Employer Partner RSM, and will share valuable insights from the following industry practitioners:

All our speakers have substantial experience in different jurisdictions including Guernsey, Jersey, Switzerland and the UK. Each will share her own experiences, strategies and learning on how they have successfully developed and implemented programmes to support employee engagement.

Key topics will include: what employee engagement means, understanding flexibility in the workplace and understanding gender diversity and inclusion.

If you have ever wanted to know how you can increase both your employees’ potential and their engagement levels, then this is the forum for you. I look forward to seeing you there to learn more about employee engagement.

Christopher Talia, Programme Manager, Employer Partnership Programme, STEP (Christopher will officially join the EPP team from mid-July).

The Gift Aid tax gap

Emily Deane TEPSTEP is working with HMRC on a Gift Aid working group set up to explore options to maximise the amount of Gift Aid that charities can claim on donations, together with ways of increasing customer understanding of the system and how it works. HMRC is also investigating opportunities to improve the way that Higher Rate Relief is claimed; and whether it works as intended, is future-proof and provides the relief in the best way possible.

HMRC began the process by instructing an external research company to look into charitable giving and the use of Gift Aid. Its specific objectives were to estimate the value of the Gift Aid tax gap and unclaimed Gift Aid, and develop an understanding of correct and incorrect behaviours among donors.

The report has found that 25 per cent of the value of donations made in the 12 months prior to interview did not have Gift Aid added to them where the donor was eligible, contributing up to GBP560 million to the value of unclaimed Gift Aid. This represents potential missed income for charities and is generated by eligible donors who only sometimes (30 per cent), or never (18 per cent), add Gift Aid to their donations. It is mostly driven by a lack of opportunity for donors to add Gift Aid, and to a lesser degree, by failing to understand what Gift Aid is, or where they are eligible to add it.

The report also finds that 8 per cent of the value of donations had Gift Aid incorrectly added to them by ineligible donors, generating a Gift Aid tax gap of up to GBP180 million. This is caused by ineligible donors who always (5 per cent) or sometimes (10 per cent) add Gift Aid, partly where they do not understand the relief, and partly where they misunderstand what it means to be a taxpayer. This has resulted in donors who are not taxpayers attempting to add Gift Aid, where they are not eligible to do so.

Better understanding of these issues would lead to a drop in Gift Aid claims among ineligible donors, and a rise in claims among eligible donors. It was recommended to provide information about (1) Gift Aid eligibility criteria (ie clarifying what it means to be a UK taxpayer, and that the donor must be one to add Gift Aid to their donation) at every opportunity, and (2) the benefits of Gift Aid at the point of donation; to help effect the change.

The report, Charitable giving and Gift Aid research, is published today, accompanied by a press release issued by HM Treasury and HMRC.

If you have any questions or suggestions please email STEP’s Technical Counsel – [email protected].

Emily Deane TEP is STEP Technical Counsel

Improving HMRC guidance on Gift Aid donor benefits

STEP has been invited to join an HMRC Working Group which will review the guidance on Gift Aid donor benefits. The Working Group will review the interpretation of the rules that apply to donor benefits within the HMRC guidance covered by Chapters 3.18 to 3.25.

Objectives

Representatives have been selected from the charity sector, HMRC and HMT and the group held its first meeting hosted by HMRC last week. The group has initially identified the need to include the valuation of certain benefits for application of the relevant value test; the meaning of the ‘in consequence’ rule; and the correct application of the split payment rule.

The objective of the working group is not to amend the legislation or policy but simply to clarify and improve the guidance. HMRC has confirmed that proposed changes to the guidance cannot extend, override or supplement any statutory provisions.

HMRC is keen to mitigate the confusion and litigation that can ensue when the guidance is misinterpreted by charities and donors, for example, when gift aid contributions are misunderstood from the donor’s perspective which can lead to HMRC demanding large refunds. The overriding objective of the working group is to enhance the guidance to make it work as efficiently as possible and promote best practice within the sector.

Tell us your views

We would like to invite STEP members to provide examples of how the guidance could be improved in order to clarify interpretation of the existing legislation. You may wish to provide examples of how the guidance can be misinterpreted or, alternatively, mark up the guidance to show suggested changes.

Outcome

Once HMRC has collected the proposed changes from the working group representatives they will refer the guidance to HMRC’s solicitors for review prior to publication. The estimated date for publication is early 2019.

We would very much value your input. Please send your feedback to  [email protected] by 15 November 2017.

Emily Deane TEP is STEP Technical Counsel

Foreign domiciliaries – what next?

UK passport

Early in July, the UK government offered some clarity about what will happen to its proposed changes to foreign domiciliaries, which were dropped from the Finance (No.2) Bill 2017 in the rush to pass legislation prior to this year’s general election.

Following the election and the Queen’s Speech, a Ministerial Statement announced that, after the summer recess, everything that did not make it into the eventual Finance Act 2017 would be reintroduced in a second Finance Bill 2017.

Briefly, the main changes are:

  • If a person is born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin, and is resident in the UK during a tax year, he or she will be considered to be domiciled in the UK for all tax purposes.
  • Anyone who has been resident in the UK for at least 15 of the previous 20 tax years will be judged to be a long-term resident and domiciled in the UK for all of his/her tax purposes.
  • Inheritance tax will be extended to cover:
    • any UK residential property owned by foreign domiciliaries via a non-UK company or partnership;
    • any UK trust settled by foreign domiciliaries via a non-UK company or partnership; and
    • a loan, if the funds are used for the acquisition, maintenance or enhancement of an interest in UK residential property, as well as the collateral on such a loan.

Reliefs and protections

In addition, the government plans to introduce several accompanying reliefs and protections, including:

  • Capital gains tax (CGT) rebasing relief on assets held directly by individuals applying to income gains from non-reporting funds, as well as on capital gains on foreign assets.
  • A cleansing relief for individuals who have been remittance basis users in at least one tax year between 2008/2009 and 2016/2017 with mixed-fund bank accounts. This measure excludes formerly domiciled residents.
  • The protection of settlor-interested trusts, as long as the settlor is a long-term resident of the UK, through the continued disapplication of the capital gains tax anti-avoidance provision that would otherwise have levied a charge on the trust’s foreign income.
  • A small number of relaxations to Business Investment Relief.

The government has stated that there are no plans to alter the implementation dates of any of the measures. If they are passed, they will represent the most significant set of changes to the rules regarding foreign domiciliaries since 2008.

Time scales

Given that Parliament does not return until 5 September, rising on 14 September for the party conference season, it is unlikely that MPs will be able to properly debate the second Finance Bill 2017 before October. If so, the legislation would likely receive Royal Assent in late November – at the earliest.

Given the limited time MPs will have to debate and pass the Bill, and the important changes it will bring, STEP will carefully monitor developments as they happen, and provide updates on the legislation’s progress.

Daniel Nesbitt, Policy Executive, STEP