Tax Checklist for Moving to the UK (Buzzacott)

Business Opportunities
October 25, 2021 - Buzzacott

This is a thought leadership article on the key tax areas that need to be considered for moving to the UK, from PrimeGlobal member firm Buzzacott in the United Kingdom.

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Whether you’re moving to the UK permanently or just for the foreseeable future, it’s important for you to plan ahead to ensure a smooth transition. This checklist highlights the key tax areas for you to consider, to make sure you remain compliant. 

Which Visa Will You Require?

Before you even think about tax, your first port of call is to establish your visa. If you’re not a UK national, you’ll require a visa to study, live or work in the UK. There are multiple routes of entry to the UK and you can browse the different types of visas available on the UK government website.  Speaking to an immigration lawyer is always recommended before you apply for a visa.

Establishing UK Residence

There are three stages to determine whether you are resident in the UK in any one given tax year:

  1. A series of tests to indicate whether you definitely are not UK resident. 
  2. A series of tests to determine if you definitely are UK resident. 
  3. If you don’t meet any of the definitive tests, the more complex Sufficient Ties Test looks at your facts and circumstances in addition to your actual days of presence in the UK.

In order to work in the UK, you’ll require a UK National Insurance number. Details on how to apply for one can be found on the UK government website.  

In the year of arrival (and departure), it’s possible to split the UK tax year into resident and non-resident periods, if certain conditions are met. If split year treatment applies, during the non-resident period you are only subject to UK tax in respect of UK source income.

UK Bank Account

Once your plans are set, you should look to set up a UK bank account prior to moving to the UK, if possible. This will help you from a UK credit rating perspective and in practical terms, such as receiving salary and paying UK expenses. Having a UK bank account also helps prevent unnecessary remittances and exposure to foreign exchange rate changes.

The UK Self Assessment Tax System

The UK tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April and tax returns are prepared on an individual basis.

Not every UK resident is required to file a UK tax return. If your circumstances are straightforward, with a UK payroll and small UK investment income, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to file one. 

If you or your parents were born outside the UK, it’s possible that you’ll be considered not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. Domicile essentially means “place of permanent belonging”, so if you have made no definite plans to remain here in the UK for the rest of your life, you’re unlikely to be regarded as UK domiciled.

If you’re not UK-domiciled, you can choose the remittance basis of taxation. This generally means that you are only taxed on your UK source income and gains plus any overseas income and gains you bring into the UK. If you have income which doesn’t have tax withheld at source or wish to claim the remittance basis, you will likely have a UK tax filing requirement.

If a UK tax return is required, you must register for UK Self Assessment by 31 October following the end of the tax year in which you arrive. Your first UK Self Assessment tax return will be due the 31 January following the end of the tax year. If your UK tax returns shows a liability due, this is payable on the same date the return is due.

National Insurance Contributions (NIC)

Paying UK NIC gives you entitlement to UK state benefits, such as a UK state pension. Generally, everyone over the age of 16 working in the UK is required to pay UK NIC. NICs are collected through UK payroll for employees and through the UK Self-Assessment system for self-employed individuals.

If you’re moving to the UK from certain specified countries or a country that has a social security agreement with the UK, then it’s often possible to continue paying into the other country's social security system for a period of time rather than paying UK NICs

Download Buzzacott's 2021/22 tax rates and allowances guide for the current UK tax and NIC rates.

UK Property

Purchasing a property in the UK is a large commitment that requires careful planning both from a personal and tax perspective. You need to consider your place of work, access to travel networks and proximity of schools if you have children.

Once you’ve established where you want to live, there are tax and other factors that you need to plan for. For example:

  • If you own other property anywhere in the world, there will be an additional Stamp Duty Land Tax charge to consider.
  • If you’re planning to reside in more than one property, consideration should be given to which property is your principal private residence for Capital Gains Tax purposes.
  • How will the property purchase be funded? UK mortgages can be difficult to obtain if you have no UK credit history.
  • If purchasing with another person, will you own the property jointly with right of survivorship or as tenants in common?

Many people opt to rent a property in the UK when they first arrive to take the stress out of finding a property to buy in a suitable area before they move to the UK.

UK Pension Plans

As a non-UK national living in the UK, you’re entitled to save into a UK pension plan. If you work as an employee, you’re likely to be automatically enrolled into an employer pension plan whereby both yourself and your employer make contributions. You can also set up and contribute to a private pension plan such as a UK Self-Invested Personal Pension Plan.

Depending on the level of your income, you can make tax efficient contributions to a UK pension plan of up to £40,000 per UK tax year. 

Non-UK Investments and Bank Accounts

If you have non-UK investment accounts, it’s important to review and understand the tax implications of continuing to hold these investments after you become resident in the UK. 

If you’re looking to claim the remittance basis of taxation, you can look at pre-arrival planning with regards to structuring your offshore accounts. This can allow you to take advantage of remitting clean non-UK capital to the UK even after you are resident here.

Other Considerations

As well as the tax, there are several other non-tax considerations such as:

  • Obtaining and paying for a television licence.
  • Arranging utility suppliers for broadband, gas, electric and water.
  • Having adequate insurances in place (life, home, car, pet etc.)
  • Taking your belongings to the UK.
  • Checking whether your driving licence is valid in the UK.
  • Moving your pets and their potential quarantine upon arrival.

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