Wealthy expats fleeing Britain in fear of post Brexit tax status

Published:  5 Dec at 6 PM
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Reports show over 12,000 non-domiciled expat professionals have left the UK over the past year, with another 55,000 planning to leave.

The mass exodus is focused on the City of London financial district with its specially orchestrated non-dom tax rules, introduced to encourage top financial talents to take temporary assignments in the UK. With Brexit looming, the privileged few aren’t hedging their bets after an announced new crackdown on long-term non-doms.

Changes in the law will mean non-doms will need to have been resident in Britain for 15 years out of the last 20 before the British taxman considers them as domiciled for tax purposes. UK tax lawyers have confirmed wealthy non-doms are worried about their futures in the UK, especially as tax law changes over the past 10 years have been squeezing their personal revenues, with Brexit being seen as the last straw.

According to HMRC, the UK was home to 121,300 non-doms paying a total of nine billion in income tax on their UK salaries as well as national insurance contributions. Should 50 per cent desert the UK in favour of Switzerland or the USA, the UK will lose some five billion sterling in tax revenue. In the meantime, expats across the world are taking advantage of the plunging pound to purchase property in the UK. For those based in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, payments in local currencies have given them a 21 per cent discount over UK real estate prices before the Brexit referendum.

One upscale real estate agency reports expat purchases are making up for a slump in UK-based buyers, especially in fashionable semi-rural areas within 20 miles or so of provincial cities such as Bath. As well as fuelling increases in actual purchases, expat enquiries are also surging. Foreign buyers are also snapping up country homes at over two million pounds, with new laws such as the three per cent charge on second homes being cancelled out by the exchange rate between sterling and major foreign currencies. Buy to let mortgage enquiries from expatriates are up by 162 per cent on their pre-referendum figures, with professionals working in Singapore and the UAE the most active.
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