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Wealthy may emigrate to avoid Corbyn tax hikes

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16/05/2019
Rich Brits and wealthy international investors fear a Corbyn government more than Brexit, according to a leading wealth manager.

Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group, said an increasing number considering moving their wealth overseas.

Mr Green says: “Since the beginning of the year a large and growing number of clients are telling our advisers that for their wealth they fear the damaging impact of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government more than Brexit.

“Polls suggest that the Conservative party, led by Theresa May, is haemorrhaging support due to the ongoing Brexit chaos and deadlock. This drives up the possibility of another general election in the UK before 2022 and that Labour, with Mr Corbyn at the helm, could sweep into power.”

He continues: “High-net-worth individuals in Britain and wealthy international investors with UK assets and business know that they will be hit by Mr Corbyn’s tax hikes on wealth, income and inheritance.

“As such, more and more of them are seeking advice on established, legitimate overseas opportunities to create, build, and importantly, protect their wealth.”

Green said that wealthy clients often have the resources to move to lower tax jurisdictions if the tax burden in the UK becomes too great. This could see the overall tax take drop rather than rise.

Is there anything investors can do?

Paul Fairbairn, partner at Cripps Pemberton Greenish, said: “For high and ultra-high net worth clients the prospect of a change of government is clearly a far greater concern than Brexit and is also an agenda point at all trustee meetings that seem to carry more weight than Brexit. I am aware of this resulting in clients, and not just non-dom clients, moving liquid assets offshore. There are however complicated tax rules that attach to offshore assets and particularly any kind of corporate or trust structure.

“Understanding what the long term implications might be is vitally important, the costs and complexity can be considerable and many have acted in the past based on short term concerns, founded and unfounded, and they and/or their descendants have lived to regret their actions. It is an often repeated mantra that ‘the tax tail should not wag the dog’, the same could well be said of political uncertainty.”

That said, he said those with ‘non-dom’ status and substantial assets outside the UK would be well advised to settle them in an offshore trust (a so-called excluded property trust) before they have been UK resident for 15 tax years.

For UK resident and domiciled clients Fairburn said there may be steps that if they reviewed their affairs they would find should be taken anyway, such as passing an asset down a generation: “Such gifts often involve a capital gains tax charge, if it is a charge you would be happy to incur under the current comparatively low rates then not procrastinating at a time when rate increases are being trailed by all sides certainly makes sense. Taking action that incurs tax just to bank a rate that may go up probably does not make sense, especially if you would otherwise have no reason to take the action or incur the tax.”

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