United Kingdom - Special considerations for short-term assignments

United Kingdom - Special considerations for short...

Taxation of international executives

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Residency rules

Payroll considerations

Taxable income

Additional considerations

For the purposes of this publication, a short-term assignment is defined as an assignment that lasts for less than one year.

Residency rules

Are there special residency considerations for short-term assignments?

If an individual spends 183 days or more in the United Kingdom in a tax year, he/she will be regarded as resident in the United Kingdom for the whole of that year (6 April to following 5 April). (For determining UK residence, usually a day is counted if the individual is present at midnight.)

Short-term assignees spending less than 183 days in the UK may be considered as non-resident, however there could be circumstances under which a short term assignee, who is in the UK for more than 16 days in a tax year, could be classed as UK resident for that year. Such short-term assignees would need to consider the rules in the new Statutory Residence Test, which applies for tax years from 6 April 2013. It is therefore important that each assignee takes advice on their particular circumstances.

If a short-term assignee is determined to be UK resident for a year, there may be some available reliefs and exemptions to limit their exposure to UK tax to income attributable to UK sources / duties only. Again, due to the complex nature of the rules, the assignee will need to take specific advice regarding their circumstances.

Payroll considerations

Are there special payroll considerations for short-term assignments?

If a short-term assignee is in the United Kingdom working for an entity in the United Kingdom, it is likely that that entity will have a responsibility to operate Pay-as-you-earn (“PAYE”). However, if it is anticipated that the employee will be able to claim tax treaty relief and not have a tax liability, the U.K. entity might well be able to enter into arrangements with HMRC under which it does not have to operate PAYE, provided it agrees to certain undertakings.

Taxable income

What income will be taxed during short-term assignments?

Subject to tax treaty relief, all of the income relating to U.K. duties will be taxable.

If the assignee is not resident in the United Kingdom, income relating to non-U.K. duties will not be taxable.

If the assignee is U.K. resident for the tax year, non-U.K. domiciled and claims the remittance basis of taxation, on the basis that the prescribed statutory conditions are met, Overseas Workday Relief (“OWR”) may be claimed. The effect of OWR is that the assignee’s earnings related to non-U.K. duties will not be taxable in the U.K. if not brought into the United Kingdom. Otherwise, income relating to non-U.K. duties will be taxable.

Again, the rules relating to remittance of funds to the UK are complex. It is, therefore, important that the assignee seeks advice on their particular circumstances to ensure they do not accidentally create an additional UK tax liability.

Additional considerations

Are there any additional considerations that should be considered before initiating a short-term assignment in the United Kingdom? 

It is very likely that the tax treaty between the assignee’s country of residence and the U.K. will be relevant. Consequently, it should be considered carefully remembering the fact that the U.K. adopts the economic employer approach when interpreting the employment income article.

Detailed records should be maintained of the time which the assignee spends in the U.K. and of his/her work activities, both in the U.K and elsewhere, during the assignment.The appropriate structuring of bank accounts should be considered before the employee commences work in the U.K. if there is any chance that he/she will become resident there.

© 2017 KPMG LLP, a United Kingdom legal liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

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