Firstly on a positive note there has been no announced rise in the rates of VAT.
VAT scrapped on books
This announcement to abolish VAT on books, eBooks, newspapers, magazines or academic journals will be introduced on 1 December 2020 (just in time for Christmas) with the intended aim to increase literacy in the UK. This was previously considered to be an unfair “tax on knowledge” which affected those on lower incomes accessing educational material. The extension to eBooks comes for those who are less able to read printed material.
The Structures and Buildings Allowance (‘SBA’) was announced in Budget 2018 with effect from 29 October 2018 and introduced a flat rate 2% tax deduction on qualifying expenditure on non-residential buildings or structures by both occupiers and investors.
The Chancellor has announced significant changes to pension tax relief for high earners in yesterday’s Budget.
At present most taxpayers are entitled to make tax relieved pension savings of up to £40,000 per year (gross). It is also possible to carry forward unused relief for up to three years.
The Government had previously announced that the business rates relief discount was to continue for one year with effect from 1 April 2020. They have now confirmed that the rate of discount for businesses with properties in England with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be increased from one third to 50% for one year.
It was announced in Wednesday’s Budget that the lifetime limit for Entrepreneurs’ Relief has been reduced from £10 million to £1 million for disposals on or after Budget Day (11 March 2020). Anti-forestalling measures apply to disposals entered into but not completed by Budget Day.
Cryptoassets have been big news in recent years, not least because of the speculative bubble surrounding bitcoin. An issue less frequently covered is the tax implications of investing in these financial instruments.
At the end of 2019, HMRC set out its views on the UK taxation of cryptoassets. The document has important implications for UK non-domiciled residents who hold investments in these assets.
For those wondering what a cryptoasset is, the one you are most likely to have heard about is bitcoin but there are thousands of cryptoassets – or cryptocurrencies as you might know them - out there. They are essentially a type of electronic cash and while the underlying concept, use and security of these assets has been the subject of considerable debate, for the purposes of this discussion they are generally held as investments by people who expect their value to rise.
HM Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England have identified three types of cryptoassets or cryptocurrency: exchange tokens, utility tokens and security tokens.
So far, HMRC has provided its view as to the taxation of exchange tokens (of which bitcoin is one). However, utility tokens and security tokens are yet to be fully considered, while this might sound like the realm of science fiction, the Kaspersky Cryptocurrency Report 2019 revealed that 19 per cent of people surveyed had invested in cryptoassets.
What is HMRC’s standpoint on cryptoassets?
HMRC has never considered cryptoassets to be currency. Generally, the withdrawal of money from foreign currency accounts is not (at least since 6 April 2012) considered an event for capital gains tax purposes and so exchange rate movements are not taxed. With the explosion of growth in cryptoassets, and the likely reality that individuals hold these as an investment, it is perhaps understandable that HMRC would want to seek to tax.
HMRC’s view is that the situs (the location of property for tax purposes) of a bitcoin or other exchange token is the place of the individual’s residence. Therefore, a UK tax resident individual has a UK sited asset.
What is the issue with this? None, if you are UK tax resident and domiciled, as you are taxed on your worldwide income and gains, so situs is perhaps not an important issue. It seems reasonable to expect to pay tax on gains made.
How does this affect non-doms?
There is an issue for those individuals who are tax resident in the UK but have a domicile outside of the UK and may have chosen to be taxed on the remittance basis. Those choosing this basis are only taxed on UK arising income/gains and on overseas income/gains remitted to the UK.
I doubt such individuals will have realised any investments in cryptocurrencies would be assessable on them in the UK, given that HMRC now regard these as being sited where the individual is resident. Further, will such individuals be aware of the fact such assets are now considered to be UK sited for inheritance tax purposes?
If such a person had considered the tax position of their investments in cryptoassets, they may naturally have considered the situs to be where the digital wallet storing the cryptoassets is, which they may have considered to be outside the UK.
Naturally, such individuals should reconsider their tax position.
Finally, whilst the point of this article has been to highlight an issue with those who are resident non-doms, I should mention the reality that there are a lot of individuals who may not have dealt with the tax aspects of gains arising in such assets, whether through ‘burying their head in the sand’ or deliberately evading the issue. Neither option is appropriate. Our firm can assist such individuals with regularising their affairs.
Having considered the latest guidance from the Government and events over the weekend and the end of last week we have taken the view that it is more responsible to postpone all our planned events for the next few weeks, which includes our Budget presentations later this week.
International Women’s Day is a global event that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a great opportunity to recognise the contribution of women in business – something I am reminded of on a daily basis, working with colleagues and clients.
It was reported last night that Flybe had entered into administration risking more than 2,000 jobs and causing travel disruption to thousands of travellers. Many passengers are now stuck abroad while others are rushing to find flights with alternative airlines.
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