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British tax domicile
A domicile, under English tax law, broadly refers to the country in which a person resides, having an intention to reside there permanently, or at least indefinitely.
Generally speaking, British nationals have a British domicile as their default. The United Kingdom’s inheritance tax is charged to United Kingdom domiciles at a rate of 40% on the entire worldwide estate. I have written before on the difficulties of British expatriates in adopting a so-called ‘domicile of choice’ for a new home outside the United Kingdom. In short, this is not easy, as there is a significant incentive on the State to pursue all potential tax revenue sources worldwide and after-the-fact evidence is easily engineered.
The expat tax-payer bears an onerous legal burden to prove ‘with documents’ that the United Kingdom tax authorities are not entitled to a share of our estates. The passage of time spent in another country will not alone be sufficient.
Do you think you have the documents to prove you are domiciled outside the United Kingdom? Given the risks of being wrong, perhaps it makes sense to add some more to the collection.
Voting is a fundamental right, and clearly demonstrates a will to exert influence over what happens in the place where we live. There is an electoral role (ie a State-maintained document), which is admissible in evidence to prove an entitlement to vote, and there are other documents that may also exist in relation to this.
Where are you on the electoral role? Does this support your case for domicile, or does it conflict with it? You can change this quite easily, as I did today at the Prague 2 municipal authority with the assistance of Veronika from www.4expats.cz.
Registering to vote in the Czech Republic
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that an EU national has a right to vote and to be elected in both European parliamentary and local elections in their Member State of residence. This right should arise under the same terms on which it applies to nationals of that Member State (ie in the Czech Republic, EU national, resident and over 18).
The process of registering to vote is not complicated. For example, in the Czech Republic (Municipality of Prague 2 in my case) the local municipality has a particular process and application form, partially in English and partially in Czech. On supplying the relevant documents proving identity and residence, the municipality should update the electoral role, and that is it.
4expats.cz prepared the ground for me, by explaining to the municipal clerk the background to my application and ensuring that my application was understood and would be granted as requested. Thanks to this, I have also received documentary proof of my registration (which would not normally be forthcoming until very shortly before an election).
Avoiding unnecessary risks
Domicile is a complicated issue. That does not mean that quick wins cannot be found at nominal cost. It strongly pays to plan ahead. International inheritance planning is not greatly different to any other form of planning. Besides that, a vote is a voice. Where would you like your voice to be heard?
Best wishes for the holidays.
The HJChapman Team