Offshore tax crackdown. Could it impact expats?

15th February 2016

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In recent years, governments and financial institutions have become much more aware of the large amounts of undisclosed wealth held in offshore bank accounts writes private client adviser and Mindful Money columnist Jessica Cook

Concerned that they are missing out on large amounts of unpaid tax they are seeking to remedy this.

In response to a request from the G20, the OECD has developed the Common Reporting Standard or CRS as it is better known.

The CRS provides a framework for jurisdictions to obtain information from their financial institutions and automatically exchange that information with other jurisdictions.

In an attempt to crackdown on tax evasion via offshore accounts, it aims to prevent anybody evading tax by failing to make to make the proper declarations in their country of tax residence.

The transparency created by the CRS is meant to be yet another deterrent to taxpayers’ use of offshore accounts to avoid domestic tax liabilities.

A UK expat working and living abroad will often choose to bank in a crown dependent country such as the Isle of Man, or Guernsey for example.

Under CRS the banks in these offshore jurisdictions will have to report information on the owners bank account to their local tax authority.

They then must pass it to HM Revenue and Customs, if the expat subsequently returns to the UK.

Financial information to be reported includes the owners account balance, sales proceeds from financial assets, interest and dividends.

Over 90 jurisdictions have committed to implement CRS. Those countries to be the first at exchanging information from 2017 include the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

Expats should be aware that, the clampdown and exchange of information concept is aimed at combatting tax evasion. Lawful tax mitigation is not an issue. However, as ever it is always best to seek professional advice.

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