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 

STEP UK News Digest wrap-up – fourth quarter 2015 top stories

A_very_small_house

Will disputes and tax matters, often involving property, were at the forefront of our readers’ minds, according to the top ten news items from the UK. Here they are again:

Lost challenge to will costs litigant dearly: A Berkshire woman who lost her legal challenge to her natural father’s will may have to pay legal costs far higher than the amount she was left in the will.

Charities defeat family’s claim for probate of home-made will: Four charities named as Dorothy Whelen’s residuary beneficiaries have defeated a claim that she executed a second home-made will leaving her entire estate to a friend.

UK Autumn Statement may target tax reliefs: Most tax specialists predict it will be harsher than previously expected, for two reasons. First, the Chancellor has failed to push through legislation cutting tax credits for the low-paid, so that the public sector borrowing requirement will be larger than planned at the time that Finance Bill (no.2) 2015 was drafted.

Cash extracted from wound-up firms to be taxed as income: Next year’s Finance Bill will impose an income tax charge on owners of close companies who liquidate the company in order to share out its assets. At the moment, distributions on liquidation and similar events are taxed as capital gains rather than income.

Inheritance tax (‘IHT’) and trusts – tips and traps: Discretionary trusts, whenever created, and most other forms of lifetime trusts (other than bare trusts and qualifying trusts for disabled persons) established on or after 22 March 2006 are subject to what is known as the ‘relevant property’ regime which imposes a charge to IHT on the capital value of the trust assets on each 10 year anniversary of the creation of the trust and ‘exit’ charges when capital is distributed or property otherwise ceases to be relevant property.

Survey says competition leads to lower price of basic wills and estate administration: A survey of 60 will-writers has found that the average price of a standard single will in the UK fell to GBP83 this year, with the average price quoted by law firms and solicitors at GBP118 (falling from GBP124 in the last year).

Judge bars ex-wife from further litigation: An English family court judge has imposed an extended civil restraint order on an ex-wife to stop her bringing further ‘bitter and intense’ litigation against her former spouse.

HMRC waives ‘correct and complete’ declaration for agents’ online IHT returns: Practitioners who submit an online inheritance tax (IHT) return on behalf of a client no longer need to provide a declaration that the information is ‘correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief’.

Second home buyers hit with stamp duty surcharge: Yesterday’s Autumn Statement announced that buyers of ‘additional properties’ will be charged an extra 3 per cent rate of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) from next April. The phrase ‘additional properties’ explicitly includes second homes as well as residential lets. The 3 per cent surcharge will be added to the usual SDLT rate for the property’s price band.

Inheritance Tax: main residence nil-rate band and the existing nil-rate band: Individuals with direct descendants who have an estate (including a main residence) with total assets above the Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold (or nil-rate band) of £325,000 and personal representatives of deceased persons.
 

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: www.step.org/register.

Follow @STEPSociety for regular updates.

STEP International News Digest wrap-up – fourth quarter 2015 top stories

transparency
Readers of our STEP International News Digests showed a marked interest in the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) during the fourth quarter of 2015. In case you missed them, here are the top ten items:

Barclays fined heavily for due diligence failure: The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Barclays Bank GBP72 million for failing to conduct proper due diligence checks on a group of ultra-high-net-worth clients who used the bank to move GBP1.88 billion of funds in 2011 –2012.

UK sets out beneficial ownership register demands on territories: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has set out exactly what it requires of its Overseas Territories regarding transparency of company beneficial ownership. The demands stop short of a public central register, but do require that companies or their beneficial owners must not be alerted to the fact that an investigation is under way.

UK professional bodies challenge new benefits charges on non-doms: A group of professional associations have questioned the UK government’s plans for significant reform of the taxation of non-domiciled residents, in particular the ‘dry benefits’ charge to be imposed on settlors of offshore trusts.

CRS by jurisdiction: A jurisdiction-specific overview of the steps taken and choices made by jurisdictions in the context of implementing the Standard. The overview table below will show the current state of implementation of all committed jurisdictions in a single table. In case you would like to have more detailed information about the current state of implementation of the Standard in a particular jurisdiction, you will be able to access jurisdiction-specific legislation by clicking on the green tick relating to that jurisdiction.

BVI to require compulsory register of directors: British Virgin Islands premier Orlando Smith has announced some legislative amendments to improve the BVI authorities’ access to company beneficial ownership information. In a speech to the Assembly on Monday, Smith noted that the BVI, as well as other British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, are under pressure from London to introduce publicly available central registries of the beneficial owners of companies.

Overseas Territories head off UK’s demand for central registers: Britain’s Overseas Territories appear to have successfully resisted the UK’s demands that they set up central registers of company beneficial ownership, directly accessible by the UK authorities.

Have you sorted your LEIs?: The Financial Stability Board is probably the most powerful body nobody has heard of. It was set up by the G20 after the financial crisis and is drawn largely from central bankers. One of the issues it has focused on is effective monitoring of counterparty risk in financial markets.

CRS-related FAQs (pdf): The OECD has published a summary of 41 jurisdictions’ position regarding the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for automatic exchange of financial information. It has also issued an updated list of CRS-related frequently asked questions, including one concerning the time allowed to verify a self-certification.

Automatic Exchange: The Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) portal provides a comprehensive overview of the work the OECD and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in the area of the automatic exchange of information, in particular with respect to the Common Reporting Standard.

Russian Federal Tax Service publishes draft blacklist of states that do not exchange information with Russia (pdf): On October 23, 2015 the Russian Federal Tax Service published on the official web-site for information disclosure (regulation.gov.ru/) the first list of states and territories that do not exchange information for tax purposes with Russia or information exchange with which did not meet Russia’s expectations (the “blacklist”). The blacklist may become effective from January 1, 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.

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

Follow @STEPSociety for regular updates.

Quantum of Success

Richard FrimstonI used to understand the Succession Regulation, but now I am not so sure.

The EU Commission put together an excellent conference in Brussels on 19 November, on the subject, which many STEP members attended.

Although several interesting individual topics were covered, the overriding impression I obtained was that we are all still looking at the Regulation through the prism of our own individual national systems. Not all of us have quite made the mental leap that the Regulation introduced a new system that is supra national.

The most contentious debate probably related to the legal effects of the Succession Certificate (ECS). Does it really replace local certificates? France may be concerned as to the fact that an ECS is not an Acte Authentique, while Germany worries as to the preservation of the purity of its Land and other Registers.

If a notary is not acting as a ‘Court’, are notaries subject to the jurisdictional limits of the Regulation? Who is asking?

The Italian perspective was expressed in the view that a professio juris of the national law might not be effective, if it coincided with the current habitual residence. Everyone else disagreed.

Many differing opinions were expressed, but the only real conclusion was that we are all feeling our way in territory that has never been explored before. We need to keep talking to professionals and advisors in other jurisdictions and try to discuss these matters with as few preconceptions as possible.

As ever, the real benefit of the conference was the opportunity to spend time meeting others from different Member States, and discussing the problems of international succession. We all shared a common interest in trying to find solutions to the problems faced by EU citizens attempting to plan their succession.

Clients and advisors like certainty. Helping everyone understand that it does not exist, and finding the best route through, has always been the unhappy job of the quantum mechanic.

  • EU Regulation on Succession and WillsFor more analysis of the Regulation see EU Regulation on Succession and Wills, Commentary by: Ulf Bergquist, Domenico Damascelli, Richard Frimston, Paul Lagarde, Felix Odersky, Barbara Reinhartz. STEP members receive a 20% discount: www.step.org/discounted-books (log in).

Richard Frimston, Partner, Russell-Cooke, London

Have you sorted your LEIs?

George HodgsonThe Financial Stability Board is probably the most powerful body nobody has heard of. It was set up by the G20 after the financial crisis and is drawn largely from central bankers. One of the issues it has focused on is effective monitoring of counterparty risk in financial markets. In a process most bureaucrats will recognise, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) therefore spawned the Regulatory Oversight Group (ROC), which decided that what the world needed was better identification of the legal entities which are counterparties to transactions on financial markets, so it in turn spawned the Global Legal Entity Identity Foundation (GLEIF) based in Switzerland.

The GLEIF has designed a system where every ‘legal entity’ will need to register and obtain a unique identification number – a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) before it can trade on financial markets. Crucially, to the dismay of the purists, in the world of GLEIF, ‘legal entities’ appears to include trusts.

Acquiring an LEI will of course involve a fee (in the UK around GBP100), and it will need renewing annually (a further fee, of course), but the real challenge is that the body which issues the LEI (which in the UK will be the London Stock Exchange) will need to validate the details of everyone it issues an LEI to against various public sources. If it can’t validate the details, then it can’t issue an LEI, and the entity can’t trade in financial markets, even when it’s acting through a third party such as a fund manager or broker.

This all works for corporate entities, but what about trusts? Trusts generally do not have publicly available information against which their application for an LEI can be validated. With the current plan, therefore, they will not be able to get an LEI.

To be fair, the London Stock Exchange acknowledges the problem and has looked for guidance to its own regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The regulator, however, seems to be disinclined to get in the way of the GLEIF, ROC or FSB.

LEIs are already being issued but the new regulations will come into force in January 2017, and after that date an LEI will be required by all investors in financial markets. We therefore seem to be heading for a situation in which, apparently by accident, trusts – one of the commonest ways of holding family wealth in the common-law world – are effectively locked out of participation in financial markets.

Some might call this a bit of a mess, but the American term of SNAFU might be nearer the mark. We can, however, only see if over the coming months some common sense can be brought into the process.

George Hodgson, Deputy Chief Executive, STEP

Lord Lucan is presumed dead, but what about other missing people?

empty armchair
Lord Lucan has been back in the news, with his son’s bid to inherit the title from his father, who disappeared in 1974 after the family nanny was found murdered.

But it throws into sharp focus the plight of around 30 – 40 families a year who lose a family member but are unable to prove a death.

The Presumption of Death Act 2013, which came into force in England and Wales in October 2014, much improved their position. Under the new law, which was passed after a lengthy campaign from the charity Missing People, families can apply for a Certificate of Presumed Death, which acts like a death certificate and means the estate can be administered.

However, many legal professionals are unfamiliar with the new law, and Missing People is actively campaigning to get it better known.

“Although the law helps families resolve their loved one’s affairs, making the decision to apply for a Declaration of Presumed Death is a difficult, daunting and emotional one,” said Susannah Drury, Director of Policy, Research and Development at Missing People, “The process is currently made all the more challenging as we know that there is a shortage of legal and financial professionals who are familiar with the new legislation.”

Sarah Young, Partner at Ridley and Hall Legal Limited, in Huddersfield, has used the Act a number of times and has more cases underway. “It’s working well,” she says, “It’s great that we now have this Act as it has raised public awareness that someone can be legally presumed to have died. The Act is also very useful in that it can dissolve a marriage or a civil partnership. Previously a separate application had to be made.”

She acknowledges, though, that even some legal professionals are not aware of the Act and have still been advising people they need to wait seven years. The fact that the Act refers to the old seven year rule does not help, she says.

The cost is also expensive for many people. Apart from the £480 fee, they have to place an ad in the local paper, which can easily be £200. They also find that placing an ad, and the requirement to send copies of court papers to any relative are a breach of their privacy, and can be problematic if family members don’t get on well or haven’t been in touch. “I suppose it is important as if it was private it could be concealing something dodgy,” she concedes, “but the families don’t much like it.”

Missing People’s Susannah Drury cites the case of one family whose suicidal 20 year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome disappeared in 2012. While he was witnessed jumping from the Humber Bridge, and had left suicide notes, no body was found, and the family decided to pursue a Certificate of Presumed Death.

The young man’s mother found she had to manage the application on her own after finding local law firms unfamiliar with the process. While it was ‘bittersweet’ when the judge granted a Presumption of Death certificate, the family was finally able to deal with such practicalities as closing accounts and stopping letters addressed to him.

Rita Bhargava TEP, a partner at Russell-Cooke Solicitors in London, notes how important this is for families. “While the Act cannot address the trauma and emotional struggles caused by the disappearance of a loved one, it will finally allow the family to deal with their loved one’s estate, giving them some closure,” she says.

Missing People has published information for professionals working with families on a missing person’s financial or legal affairs:

Joanna Pegum, STEP PR & Media Executive

Money laundering and ‘The Red Tape Challenge’

George HodgsonMost STEP members, almost wherever they are based, would probably agree that we are facing a real risk of bureaucratic meltdown. Practitioners have only just negotiated the joys of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, FATCA, but they must now focus on the Common Reporting Standard, CRS (not forgetting the UK/Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories inter-governmental agreements). At the same time, many jurisdictions are now beefing up their anti-money laundering (AML) regimes in the wake of the revisions to the Financial Action Task Force international AML standards, with Europe now working on implementing the 4th AML Directive.

On top of all that, many STEP members will also need to think about the new European Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the additional burdens that will place on investors in terms of registering and reporting.

In this environment STEP practitioners will probably welcome the announcement that the UK government, philosophically committed to cutting regulation and bureaucracy, has launched a so-called ‘Red Tape Challenge’ to see if there is any unnecessary bureaucracy in the AML area. This informal consultation closes on 23 October.

STEP has already made a short submission based on feedback we have received from members (see more). Our submission focuses first on the problems faced by those who don’t fit the normal tick boxes many financial institutions now use for AML checks.

Second, we highlight the growing difficulty many STEP members report in doing business with financial institutions as they switch to a much more risk averse approach.

Finally, we highlight the absurdity that practitioners in the UK now find themselves having to struggle with three different new reporting processes (FATCA/CRS, the Corporate Register of Persons with Significant Control and the Legal Entity Identifier registration process under MiFIR, the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation). These are all broadly focused on tracking beneficial ownership, but coming through with no attempt at coordination, or to share either the administrative burden or cost.

Of course given that many of the problems we have identified flow from initiatives launched by the current UK administration, it may be politically difficult for the current government to change tack.

Nonetheless, if STEP members want to make their own submissions to the current consultation process, that may add to the pressure for a government philosophically committed to cutting the regulatory burden on business to examine if there any easier ways of achieving its AML policy objectives than those currently on the table.

George Hodgson, Deputy Chief Executive, STEP

The US’s status under the CRS

George Hodgson, Deputy Chief Executive, STEPThis week the IRS confirmed that it has begun fulfilling its obligations to those jurisdictions with which the US government has signed a Model 1A inter-governmental agreement. Under the reciprocal exchange accords, it has transmitted information on those who are tax resident outside the US to the relevant national tax authorities. This puts the spotlight on the US’s position under the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

The US has made it clear that it does not intend to adopt the CRS, arguing that FATCA (US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act ) better fulfils its needs. This leaves the US as a ‘non-participating jurisdiction’ under the CRS regulations. While under the CRS there is no equivalent of the withholding sanction that is the big stick underpinning FATCA, the result of the US being a non-participating jurisdiction is that all Financial Institutions (FIs) in the CRS will need to treat any US Reporting FI as a Non-Financial Foreign Entity (NFFE). In English, what that means is that any CRS FI holding an account for a US FI (such as a trust in Wyoming, South Dakota or wherever) will need to ‘look through’ the US FI and establish – and report if need be – on its controlling persons.

Some will find this perverse given that the US is exchanging information with many CRS jurisdictions, but not via the CRS. It’s a position the OECD seems to be holding, however, and it raises issues that STEP members should be aware of when dealing with US FIs.

George Hodgson, Deputy Chief Executive, STEP

Specialist apprenticeships on the way

Nigel Race, Director Professional Development, STEPThe Private Client industry continues to grow as a legal area and demand for private client legal services will only increase as the UK’s demographics change. It is good news, then, that a new apprenticeship in probate has been approved. The apprenticeships will open the door to a younger and more diverse labour pool than exists at present.

And aside from helping to meet the demand for estate administration, the apprenticeship will ensure a well-qualified group, grounded in practical experience and mentored and supervised by specialists in their firms, will increasingly be handling this sensitive area of work and at a level of complexity to suit their competence. STEP has advocated the regulation of will writing and estate administration for many years but, in the absence of regulation, believe this supervised and controlled development of an appropriately skilled work-force is key.

Developed by a group of employers focused on estate administration, with the support of STEP, CLTI and CLC, the new Probate Technician programme offers an exciting career opportunity for those wishing to work in probate but who do not have a prior legal qualification.

The Probate Technician Standard apprenticeship was developed by a consortium of specialist practitioners led by Andrea Pierce of Kings Court Trust together with input at the designated meetings from Michelmores LLP, Irwin Mitchell LLP, Stratega Law, Withy King LLP, Goodwills, and with the support of STEP as the relevant professional body in the private client sphere. Many other forms supported the project through survey responses.

Those qualifying as a Probate Technician will have proof of achievement of expertise in a specialist area of law – making them more attractive to prospective employers, and helping them get that crucial first step on the career ladder. They will also be able to apply for STEP affiliation.

The apprenticeship is part of the UK government’s Trailblazer scheme and is due to come in for the academic year 2017-18. Employers will be able to apply for assistance with their cost for training apprentices.

Read more

Nigel Race, Director, Professional Development, STEP

New EU rules give UK families more freedom over legacies

canaries-house-blog

The EU Succession Regulation comes into force today, giving much more freedom to families as to how they pass on assets they own in the EU in their wills.

This could be particularly important for UK families with holiday homes in the EU or for those with parents and grandparents living in the EU.

George Hodgson, Deputy CEO of STEP, the professional body for specialists in family inheritance and related areas commented: “Many European countries have so-called ‘forced heirship’ rules, where the law lays down precisely how someone’s assets have to be passed on within the family after death. Until now, for example, a UK family with a holiday home in France had very limited options as to how that could be passed on through the family. The new regulations change that, and should be a prompt to everyone with EU assets to review their inheritance plans”.

Mr Hodgson cautioned that the new rules are complex, but even though the UK itself has opted out of the Succession Regulation, they still give potentially valuable new rights to those with property or other assets in the EU. Given the complexity, however, it would be wise to seek specialist advice as to how to change any inheritance plans.

The EU Succession Regulation comes into force today, Monday 17 August. It has the potential to affect the estates of any individuals with any connection to any EU Member State in which the Succession Regulation has direct application.

The UK has opted out of the EU Succession Regulation, but British owners of holiday homes in EU member states such as France should update their wills and draw up French ones to avoid the country’s forced heirship rules.

Details on the new regulation can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/justice/civil/family-matters/successions/index_en.htm and an example of how the new rules might work is attached.

An example:

Clare is a British citizen who is resident in England but has a French holiday home she uses a few weeks each year. French forced heirship rules would oblige her to leave her holiday home to her husband and children, with clear rules as to how it would be divided. She would like instead to leave it to her brother, since it was bought with money from their grandparents.

Until today, the law governing who receives the French house on Clare’s death was generally French law. But as of 17 August 2015, this need no longer be the case.

The new regulations say that someone can generally choose the law applicable to their inheritance. This can either be the law applying where the deceased had their ‘habitual residence’ at the time of death, or the law of the state of nationality at the time of making the choice, or at the time of death.

As a British citizen, therefore,  Clare can now opt to have her French holiday home treated under English law and leave it to her brother.

George Hodgson is STEP Deputy Chief Executive