Coronavirus and the perils of signing your Will
A day count of 183 or more UK days means you are automatically UK resident, but this is the simplest rule and you can be resident if your circumstances fall within any of the other more complex provisions of the Statutory Residence Test. You clock up a UK day if present in the UK at midnight, but in light of the recent overwhelming impact of COVID–19 on freedom of people’s movement, it is worth reviewing what HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) considers UK days which do not count due to “exceptional circumstances”. The essence of such exceptional circumstances is that they must be beyond your control or could not reasonably be foreseen or predicted.
Thankfully, HMRC recognises in its guidance that the pandemic may impact your ability to move freely to and from the UK, but is careful to stress that whether days can be disregarded will always depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
The guidance (at the time of writing) does confirm that if you:
the circumstances are considered as exceptional.
COVID-19 aside, the exceptional circumstances rule is nuanced and it is equally important to be aware of what HMRC does not consider exceptional to properly gauge its scope. Delayed or missed flights due to traffic disruption, train delays, cancellation or car breakdown is not considered beyond someone’s control to manage and therefore not exceptional. Equally, choosing to come to the UK for elective dentistry or cosmetic surgery, medical treatment or even because of life events such as birth, marriage, death and divorce are not regarded as exceptional circumstances. The recognised types of exceptional circumstances in the legislation are national or local emergencies such as war, civil unrest or natural disasters and a sudden or life-threatening illness or injury, but even where circumstances do qualify there is a limit of 60 days. Any UK days over this limit will be counted, even if due to the same or different exceptional circumstances.
It is not clear whether such days spent in the UK because of COVID–19 will still be exceptional to the extent they overrun 60 days. Extraordinary times arguably call for an extraordinary dispensation to increase the 60 day limit for COVID–19 cases, but we await further guidance on this point.
If you have concerns about your UK residency status or any issues outlined here, please get in touch with a member of our private client team.
The last 12 months have put an awful lot of pressure on the family unit and sadly this has led to a spike in separation and divorce amongst married couples. With the end of the tax year fast approaching (last day Monday 5th April – Easter Monday) it is timely to consider the tax consequences of separations.
The coronavirus crisis has caused huge disruption across the world. The distress that it is causing is compounded in circumstances where intended parents of surrogacy children are in the middle of their surrogacy journey. In this blog, we address some of the most common issues people are experiencing and provide practical tips on how to navigate the current situation. These challenges include access to fertility treatment, pregnancy and birth, international travel restrictions, immigration status, parental orders and Wills among others.
With an increase in the number of client wanting to write new, or update existing, Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney while either self-isolating or remaining within the government's social distancing guidelines, Diva Shah discusses the possible changes to the Wills legislation.
Anxieties to put a Will, or new Will, in place may be heightened by the difficulties in executing a will in the presence of two witnesses at a time of social distancing and isolation. But for some of us, more than ever alert to the reality of our own mortality, would dying without a will really be a complete disaster for our assets and our family – or would things work out OK?
International clients with a UK footprint often like a good spread sheet: specifically, a spread sheet covering their days spent in the UK and those spent overseas in the period 6 April to the following 5 April. This period is the UK tax year, and well-advised international clients – those considered neither resident nor domiciled in the UK - are all too aware that not keeping track of their UK day count may make them UK resident and within scope of UK income and capital gains tax on their worldwide income and gains. Numbers matter.
The news is dominated at the moment with the dreaded C word – COVID-19. Our TV screens, phones and newspapers are filled with the death count, panic buying and now “lockdown”. For many, being isolated or maintaining social distancing means that you may well be thinking about your future.
In the current crisis, we find ourselves with time (perhaps too much time…) for worry and reflection over an uncertain future. That reflection could usefully and responsibly be channelled, in part, to issues of Wills, tax planning and general succession.
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