Top ten countries revealed for chasing tax dodgers

Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) co-ordinated an agreement to automatically swap tax information with finance ministers from 51 countries.

At the time, Chancellor George Osborne said that tax evasion was “not just illegal, it is immoral” and that because a tax evader was robbing their fellow citizens, they should be treated like “a common thief”.

A recent survey by contractor management firm CXC Global identified the ten most aggressive countries of the 51 that signed up to the OECD agreement in terms of their pursuit of avoiders.

The survey, based on information from offices across the CXC network, shows that the top ten countries chasing tax dodgers are:

  1. Spain
  2. Argentina
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Russia
  6. UK
  7. Australia
  8. Canada
  9. Indonesia
  10. New Zealand

Managing Director of CXC Global, Michelle Reilly said: “Perhaps in the past many governments didn’t put enough of a priority on tackling tax evasion, but as more and more look to gain extra revenue, we’re seeing an increased focus on preventing these offences. There are very few ‘safe’ places left for tax evaders and the authorities’ grip is only going to tighten.”

Link: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

New data shows inheritance tax bill increase

According to new analysis of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) data, the cost of passing on wealth to the next generation has increased by three per cent or £5,000 in one year.

The analysis by Prudential has revealed that in 2012/2013 – the latest year for which information is available – the British population paid more than £3 billion to the Treasury in inheritance tax (IHT).

During this period the average death tax bill rose almost £5,000 in a year to £170,000, despite the fact that only 17,900 (six per cent) of the 280,000 estates reviewed paid IHT. The majority of people who paid IHT were from the South of England, with London and the South East accounting for half of all IHT payments in the year. According to HMRC figures, the average inheritance tax bills among those in London were much higher at almost £236,000; 38 per cent more than the national average IHT payment.

The areas with the most significant growth in IHT payments however, were Northern Ireland and the North East of England, with the average IHT bill climbing 25 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Scotland and Wales saw a decline in IHT with the average bill in Scotland dropping almost nine per cent and in Wales by five per cent.

However, changes to IHT rules to help families pass on their home without paying additional tax could signal a big change in the amount of money HMRC receives from estates.

During the Summer Budget, the Chancellor George Osborne announced that from April 2017 individuals will be entitled to a family home allowance in addition to their existing individual £325,000 inheritance tax allowance.

This new allowance will be phased in over the coming years and will allow married couples or those in civil partnerships to pass on a property worth up to £1 million tax free by 2020/2021.

Link: Inheritance Tax Data

UK born non-doms will suffer under new rules, according to tax advisers

Members of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) have raised concerns about the government’s proposals to reform taxation for non-domiciles, as they fear it could lead to an unfair result for those born in the UK who spend most of their lives abroad, but later return.

A new Treasury consultation document has proposed that individuals born in the UK and classed as UK-domiciled at birth will not be entitled to claim that they are not domiciled for tax purposes while they are living in the UK.

For long-term residents of the UK, this new measure will mean that they can no longer claim to be not domiciled for tax purposes; effectively abolishing the permanency of non-dom status.

The document states: “The government… intends that any individual who is born in the UK and has a UK domicile of origin should not be able to claim non-dom status while they are living in the UK, even if they have left the UK and acquired a domicile of choice in another country.”

According to the CIOT, the introduction of the place of birth element of the rule introduces complexity into an already complex area.

“Among the new proposals, the stricter regime for those born in the UK seems unduly harsh,” said Aparna Nathan, Chair of the CIOT’s capital gains tax and investment income sub-committee. “Attaching such importance to a place of birth, which is clearly outside the individual’s control, and could be a matter of happenstance, is curious.

“As the proposal stands, a UK-born person who returns to the UK to look after ageing relatives or to take up a temporary secondment will become deemed UK domiciled from the first tax year,” Nathan added.

“As a result, they will have to pay UK income tax and capital gains tax on their worldwide income and gains, and UK inheritance tax on their worldwide assets. This seems an unduly onerous consequence of their place of birth combined with what might be a relatively brief period of UK residence later in life.”

The government is expected to release its final legislation on non-dom tax rules in the near future.

Link: Non-Dom Consultation Document

HMRC outlines Benefits in Kind and expenses real time reporting

PAYE legislation is changing from 5 April 2016, so employers who intend to or are already payrolling benefits and expenses must register with HMRC using the new online Payrolling Benefits in Kind (PBIK) service.

Businesses will be required to align their existing payroll software and register to payroll using the new service. After this date companies will not be able to register for the 2016/ 2017 tax year as HMRC cannot process changes in-year.

In order to avoid being sent multiple tax codes, businesses will also need to register before the annual coding process, which usually starts around 21 December.

In addition, P11D (b) forms must still be completed, including the total benefits and expenses provided, whether or not they have been put through the payroll.

However, if employers payroll car and fuel benefits, they must not complete P46 (Car) forms as they are deducting the tax at source that is due on these benefits.

The only benefits that cannot be payrolled using this new service are:

vouchers and credit cards
living accommodation
interest free and low interest (beneficial) loans
These must still be registered using the P11D form in the usual manner.

Before making the first main relevant payment to an employee in a tax year, businesses need to calculate the cash equivalent of the benefit.

They will then be required to determine the number of payments to be made to the specified employee in the tax year and divide the cash equivalent by the total number of payments to be made.

The resulting amount is the taxable value of benefit, which should be added to the payroll each pay cycle as a notional value. It is then necessary to deduct or repay tax as usual by reference to the employee’s code, even if this is the subject of an objection or appeal.

These changes bring with them an additional burden for businesses and some may need to seek clarification ahead of the change.