5 June 2024 by Roger Longaron

Uncertainty among non-doms after general election called

Following the Conservative announcement in March, Labour announced their own plans on 9 April 2024 regarding the non-dom regime and other important tax matters. In summary, Labour promised an overhaul of the non-dom regime, with very harsh measures affecting UHNWIs and HNWIs and their tax planning, especially around Inheritance Tax.

The non-dom community was shocked again when Rishi Sunak called the general election for 4 July. This date means that no legislation will be passed regarding the taxation of non-doms before the general election.

Given the Labour is widely expected to win the election, any hope of a lenient new tax regime for non-doms has vanished, leaving non-UK-domiciled UHNWIs and HNWIs in a higher degree of uncertainty about when and what legislation will be passed.

This has led to a rising number of queries to lawyers, tax advisors, wealth managers, and financial planners about whether now is the time to leave the UK. What we can confirm is that some non-doms have already left the UK and many others are analysing the pros and cons of doing so. Where are these individuals fleeing to and why?

Other European countries with attractive tax regimes for UHNWI and HNWI

Spain

The special tax regime for the taxation of ‘expats’ residing in Spain was introduced in 2004. It is commonly known as the ‘Beckham Law’, as it was introduced when David Beckham started playing for Real Madrid.

The main features of this advantageous tax regime are:

  1. Only Spanish-sourced income and gains are taxable in Spain.
  2. The first €600,000 of employment income is subject to a 24% flat rate. A 47% flat rate is applied to income above that limit.
  3. Savings income (dividends, interest and capital gains) tax rates range from 19% to 28%.
  4. Only Spanish-located assets are subject to wealth tax.
  5. The tax regime is applicable for the year of relocation and the following 5 tax years. After that period of time, you are taxed as a regular Spanish tax resident.

The main conditions for the application of the ‘Beckham Law’ are:

  1. The individual must have been considered a non-Spanish tax resident for the previous five tax years.
  2. Relocation to Spain must be for work reasons, either through an employment contract or becoming the director of an entity. Professional sportspersons are excluded from this special tax regime.
  3. Directors of asset-holding entities with a 25% or more of the capital of the entity are not allowed to apply the tax regime.
  4. The individual cannot earn income deemed to have been obtained through a permanent establishment in Spain.
  5. The regime is not applicable to pensioners or to self-employed individuals.

Greece

In Greece, we find three different advantageous tax regimes, depending on the circumstances of the relocation. Below is a summary of the main features of the regimes, as well as the conditions for their application.

  1. Non-dom regime for investors. For the application of this regime, the individual must not have been a Greek tax resident for seven of the eight years prior to the relocation and an investment of at least €500,000 in real estate, businesses, or transferable securities or shares in legal entities based in Greece must have been made. If these conditions are met, the individual can opt to pay a lump-sum tax of €100,000 per tax year irrespective of the amount of income earned abroad, but Greek source income and gains will be taxable as a regular tax resident. The regime can be applied for a maximum of 15 years.
  2. Non-dom regime for pensioners. For the application of this regime, the individual must not have been a Greek tax resident for five of the six years prior to the relocation and relocation must be from a country with an agreement on administrative cooperation, for example, a double tax treaty, in force with Greece. The main advantage is that the individual will pay tax on a flat rate of 7% on their foreign-sourced income.
  3. Regime for relocated employers. For the application of this regime, the individual must not have been a Greek tax resident for five of the six years prior to the relocation; they must relocate from a country with an agreement on administrative cooperation in force with Greece; they must work in Greece through an employment relationship with a Greek company or permanent establishment; and they must declare that they will remain in Greece for at least two years. The main advantage is that 50% of employment income is exempt from income tax. The tax regime is applicable for a maximum of 7 tax years.

Italy

In Italy, a new inpatriate tax regime has been in force since 29 December 2023. The main features of this new tax regime are:

  1. Only 50% of the employment income will be subject to income tax. This is limited to a maximum income of €600,000 per tax year.
  2. The tax regime can be applied for a maximum of 5 years, and it can be extended to 8 years in some cases.
  3. A high professional qualification is required. Therefore, this regime only applies to highly qualified or specialised professionals.

In order to apply the tax regime, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The individual must not have been an Italian tax resident for the previous three tax years (or up to 7 years, depending on the circumstances, if the individual relocated to Italy to work for the same company they worked for when they were in Italy previously).
  2. The individual must remain Italian tax resident for at least 4 years following the relocation.

Monaco

In Monaco’s case, we do not find a special tax regime. It is basically that the general tax regime is incredibly advantageous. However, please note that on 20 February 2024, the European Council adopted the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes and Monaco is not in that list, so it is no longer considered as a tax haven per se.

In summary, unless you are a French national, an individual resident in Monaco will not pay taxes on any income, capital gains, or passive income. Besides, there is no wealth tax, annual property tax, or council tax in Monaco. Finally, regarding inheritance and gift tax, only assets located in Monaco are subject to these taxes.

However, Monaco’s tax regime only applies if a tax certificate is requested and obtained. This can be obtained by individuals meeting the relevant conditions regarding tax residence.

Conclusion

The unstable political landscape in the UK, followed by all the announcements on tax changes, leaves people in a climate of uncertainty, especially those most affected, such as the non-dom community of HNWIs and UHNWIs. Such individuals are used to planning their financial and tax affairsand uncertainty is the antagonist of planning.

Therefore, it is not surprising that these individuals are leaving the UK or planning to do so to other countries with very similar or more competitive tax regimes, such as Spain, Greece, Italy or Monaco. If I can move to sunny Mallorca or the lovely Greek islands and pay less taxes, why would I want to stay in the UK?

Next steps

In an election year, it’s worth noting that some of these changes could be shelved or altered depending on the outcome. Nevertheless, given the extent of the changes to the non-dom regime, it would be wise for all affected individuals to understand their future planning options as soon as possible. We can also assist if you are planning to relocate to another country.  For further advice, please contact our expert Wealth and Estate Planning team.

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