Lee Hamilton, a partner in Blick Rothenberg’s Global Mobility team, shares his thoughts on what the Chancellor should announce in what is expected to be the final Spring Statement before the UK leaves the European Union.
What should Philip Hammond do?
I think Hammond would be wise to use the 2019 Spring Statement as an opportunity to advertise to the wider world that the UK is still open for business and that it strongly welcomes talent from overseas. In my experience, in the confusion that is Brexit, many people overseas have received mixed messages or have drawn erroneous conclusions in this regard.
In order to promote this, I think that there should be some enhancements to current tax reliefs, to make it more attractive and cost effective for employers to send employees to the UK and likewise for overseas individuals to take up UK roles.
The main changes I would like to see are enhancements to the following tax reliefs:
Tax relief on accommodation, travel and subsistence
Tax relief on accommodation, utility, subsistence and home-to-work travel costs is currently available to employees who are seconded to the UK by an overseas employer for a period which is expected to last for two years or less.
In my view, the relief should be extended to all individuals who come from overseas to work in the UK (i.e. even where they come to take up a UK employment and are not seconded) and for a period of three tax years, irrespective of whether they expect to stay longer in the UK.
Why? It would make the rules simpler for people to understand, would reduce HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) enquiry time where people unwittingly get this wrong and would align with the time limit for claiming overseas workdays relief (see below).
Tax relief on overseas workdays
There should be simplified rules for claiming overseas workdays relief. This relief enables non-domiciled individuals to claim UK tax relief on their non-UK workdays for a period of up to three tax years. However, where individuals become UK resident, the relief comes with some onerous conditions around what amount of employment income they can remit to the UK without losing tax relief. The Government should scrap these onerous conditions, leaving such claimants free to bring in as much of their employment income to the UK as they wish, whilst still claiming the overseas workdays relief.
Relocation tax relief should be increased from £8,000 to £20,000 to account for decades of inflation. The level of relief, covering items such as airfares to the UK, temporary accommodation and shipping has not been updated since 1992. An uplift is long overdue.
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