USA Foreign account signatories

US: Foreign account signatories given an extra year to file FBARs

Individuals with signature-only authority over foreign financial accounts have been granted until 15 April 2020 to file their report of foreign bank and financial accounts (FBAR) forms to the US Internal Revenue Service for the tax year just ended. Previously the deadline was 15 April 2019, consistent with the federal income tax due date.

As per: Hugo van Zyl –


South Africa’s big expat tax is coming

16 January 2019

In 2017 the National Treasury and SARS announced that they would be introducing major changes in the tax exemption on South African expatriates.

According to Claudia Aires Apicella, head of Financial Emigration at Tax Consulting SA, the legislative amendment is set to come into effect on 1 March 2020.

It states that South African tax residents abroad will be required to pay tax to South Africa of up to 45% of their foreign employment income, where it exceeds the R1 million threshold.

“With the commencement of the new law fast approaching, SARS has begun prosecuting taxpayers that are non-compliant and, in some cases, has the option to imprison the offender up to a period of two years,” said Apicella.

“This is in terms of the Tax Administration Act and with the help of the now fully active Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

“SARS amendments already implemented in preparation of the foreign income tax law change come March 2020 are as follows”:

SARS Interpretation Note 16 (Issue 2) – released February 2017 – Section 10(1)(o) test
SARS Interpretation Note 3 (Issue 3) – released 20 June 2018 – Ordinarily Resident test
SARS Interpretation Note 4 (Issue 5) – released 03 August 2017 – Physical Presence

SARS concerned about expatriate non-compliance

Apicella said that research provided by Treasury and SARS showed that the majority of South African passport holders and permanent residents have simply left the country – without formalising their financial affairs.

“This has prompted not only a law change, but also a stated SARS tax audit focus on those expatriates who have left and simply decided to ignore their taxes,” she said.

“While some did not consider it necessary to submit tax returns in South Africa, others submitted zero tax returns to SARS.

“In some cases, individuals even indicated that they were unemployed on their tax returns while earning expatriate salaries,” she said.

While many expatriates may hope that SARS will drag their feet, the 2017/18 South African tax return already included targeted questions dealing with expatriate tax status, Apicella said.

“The questions may appear innocent enough, but we have seen this trigger an automatic verification or audit process.

“Where the question is marked false, this is a criminal offense, thus creating an even more serious problem,” she said.

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South Africans in these 16 jobs could now have a ticket to the UK

Businesstech – 7 March 2018

The UK has seen a dramatic fall in net-migration, driven equally by the increased number of EU citizens leaving the country after the Brexit referendum, and the decreased number of international immigrants moving to the UK.

At the same time unemployment in the UK is down to a 42-year low of 4.3%, making it difficult to find workers in most regions in the UK.

Businesses across Britain are now short of employees across many sectors, ranging from minimum wage workers to those in leadership positions. To try lure new hires, employers are having to increase wages.

According to Sable International emigration consultant, Philip Gamble, not only are there a wide range of positions open in the UK, but wages and salaries are on the up and it looks as if this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

“If you’re a skilled individual interested in moving to the UK this should be music to your ears,” he said.

According to Gamble, the most popular visa that allows you to work and live in the UK is the Tier 2 (General) visa, often referred to as a UK work permit.

“This visa allows you to live and work in the UK for a maximum of five years and 14 days. To get one you’ll first need a job offer for a skilled position in the UK,” he said.

“The UK Shortage Occupation List details the jobs for which there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

“If your occupation is on the list, it will be far easier for you to find a job in the UK and to get a UK work permit.”

You can find the full Shortage Occupation list here, but Gamble set out some of the more popular occupations on the list:

IT and communications professionals
Programmers and software development professionals
Health professionals
High school teachers
Social workers
Dancers and choreographers
Graphic designers

The first step is to apply for a job in the UK, Gamble said.

“The company you are applying to will need to be a registered organisation, which means they are licensed to sponsor migrants for Tier 2 (General) visas. If you’re unsure of where to begin looking for a position, a quick search of relevant UK career sites will bring up a number of vacancies.

“Once you have gone through the job application process and have received a formal job offer, you can start the visa application process. Your employer will issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) once you have been offered the position. You will use your unique COS number when applying for your Tier 2 (General) visa.”

Points-based visa system

The Tier 2 (General) visa works on a points-based system, and you will need to obtain 70 points to be eligible.

This is a breakdown of the required points:

30 points for having a valid job offer from a registered Tier 2 sponsor (Certificate of Sponsorship).
20 points for an offer of a minimum salary of £30,000 (depending on your occupation).
10 points for having at least £945 available to you.
10 points for meeting the English language requirement.

“If you have 70 points, you meet all the requirements and your application is done in the correct way, you should receive your visa within eight weeks of your application,” said Gamble.


What is the future direction of banking?

Articled first appeared at:

Still dealing with the damage to consumer confidence after the crisis of 2008 and the new opportunities being seized by FinTech businesses the big banks are caught in a perfect storm.

FinTech in 2018As Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England has said: “FinTech…will change the nature of money, shake the foundations of central banking and deliver nothing less than a democratic revolution for all who use financial services.”

Taking advantage of new technology and crowdfunding platforms, in 2016 Monzo raised an impressive £1 million in just 96 seconds via equity crowdfunding site Crowdcube, crashing their servers and setting the record for the fastest ever crowdfunding raise – writes Marc Hurr and Daniel Eduardo Suero, co-founders of iBAN Wallet.

Monzo went on to raise another £21 million in funding and secure itself as a challenger bank, putting the wind up long-established high street banks and proving the concept of a community-owned digital bank.

Similarly, alternative banking providers, such as iBAN, are using crowdfunding to fund the launch of new banking apps and features, such as peer-to-peer lending and free international transfers.

One thing these new banking providers promise is to put the customer at the centre of their business model, rather than treating customers like a commodity to be hoarded and exploited. In fact, a recent global PwC survey found that 61% of bankers thought a customer-centric business model is very important yet only 17% were very prepared for it.

It is this disparity that challenger banks are capitalising on by offering improved services based on technological innovation, something traditional banks are struggling to adopt due to their large size, complex infrastructure and existing business models.

The same PwC survey found that innovation within the banking industry was considered to be somewhat or very important by 87% of bankers, yet just 11% said that their organisation was very prepared for it.

With all this change, the direction banking is going means banking could be very different in ten years’ time. So, what can we look forward to?
Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics

Machine learning has been around for some years now, but it still hasn’t really come of age. Essentially, they are still in school – learning now to provide future benefits.

One of the main benefits to customers will be proactive assistance, not unhelpful hindsight. For example, challenger banks already offer balance warnings and advice, not a notification that you’re already over your overdraft limit.

In future, we will see these systems become even smarter, using behavioural pattern analysis and predictive analytics to find ways to help us save money and prepare for potential financial situations we might find ourselves in. In turn, this should help customers save money, providing more capital for these new banks to operate with.
Payment Systems

We are already getting used to new forms of payment, such as contactless cards and mobile payments. So, in a sense, the future is already here.

Yet these systems still have lots of room for improvement. While convenient, contactless cards still have spending limits to avoid excessive spending through theft and fraud. They can still be lost, stolen or damaged. And you will still need your PIN at certain retailers and to withdraw cash.

The future of payment systems, however, may lie in biometrics. There are many biological features that make us unique as individuals. Even identical twins have different fingerprints, iris and blood vessel patterns, for example. These can be scanned and used to help secure our money without the need for PINs or cards, simplifying everything from purchases to online banking.
Data Aggregation

Banks have access to far more data than any other business. They know where we shop, who we work for, where we’re going on holiday, and almost everything in between. They also have access to vast amounts of data from multiple other sources, such as businesses, credit agencies, investment houses and central banks.

These data sources will increasingly be aggregated to provide a clearer picture of the world – from the micro to the macro level – allowing faster, more accurate decisions and advice. In a sense, banks can act as digital value aggregators, providing real-time value for businesses and customers.
Collaborators not competitors

In the spirit of generating value, banks can form partnerships with a network of individuals, businesses and service providers, and can leverage their power to lower costs on behalf of customers.

This stands in stark contrast to today’s approach of building more complex solutions for a higher price in order to compete against other financial institutions. It is this approach that created the complex financial instruments that, ultimately, played a huge part in the global financial collapse.
Agile and Light

Technologies like blockchain are enabling a quiet revolution – invisible and seamless – to enable more direct and transparent transactions between users. What started as peer-to-peer trading has morphed into complex networks backed by a digital ledger.

Not only does blockchain cut out the middlemen, offering traditional financial services at a fraction of the cost, it can make financial transactions more transparent and secure. Technologies built on top of blockchain, such as Etherium, are enabling the use of digital smart-contracts which make it almost impossible for financial fraud, embezzlement and dodgy trading practices to continue.

Ultimately, this technology can put users in charge of finance, rather than being at the control and whim of global financial institutions.
AI assistants

We believe machine learning, data aggregation, blockchain and greater collaboration will converge to offer users a more personalised and tailored service. Combine that with ever-improving digital assistants and you end up with a network of services that can use data to get smarter and be more helpful to customers, not ‘selling’ products in an attempt to extract ever-increasing profit from them.

Banks of the future can use their privileged position to offer a personal experience and form closer relationships with their customers. We think AI assistants will be the new, personal face of these banking services.
AR and VR

The way things are trending augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will become dominant in our everyday lives. We might interact with people and businesses via VR, gain real-time information in AR, and seamlessly switch between the two.

Imagine being able to gain a real visual understanding of your finances, where they are allocated, and what you may need to save for in the future. Almost like a time-traveller you’ll able to make highly-accurate predictions about your financial circumstances, providing unimagined confidence in your future financials.

Seychelles Off shore Perspectives

The Seychelles Budget included numerous proposals to change the territory’s tax settings, including new corporate tax reliefs and the settings for a progressive personal income tax regime. The Government said its proposals for a progressive income tax will mark the third phase of reform efforts that began in April 2016, with the introduction of a higher personal income tax exemption, for those earning less than SCR8,555 (USD618) a month. Under the new changes, the threshold will remain the same, but income up to SCR10,000 will be subject to a 15 percent rate; income up to SCR83,333 will be subject to a 20 percent rate, and a 30 percent rate will be levied on income above that threshold. Foreign individuals will not benefit from the tax exempt threshold. The threshold will be applicable on a monthly basis, in a move said to be to reduce the tax compliance burden. The Government has also proposed an alternative for small businesses from being taxed under the business tax regime. Through such, they can be subject instead to a flat fee of SCR3,000, for businesses with a turnover of not more than SCR500,000; or a flat percentage of three percent for those businesses with turnover between SCR500,000 and SCR25m. Those with a turnover greater than this will not be eligible. It was noted alongside the proposals that Seychelles has offered a presumptive tax with a 1.5 percent rate since 2013. In the Budget, it is proposed that the following businesses will no longer have five percent tax deducted at source (DAS): building contractors, maintenance contractors, mechanics, hirers or operators of plant and equipment, or hirers of buses. Amendments are proposed to the Business Tax Act to clarify, first, that Seychelles will have a territorial tax regime and, second, tax on depreciable assets will be limited to the original cost of the asset. From 2019, the following tax concessions for the tourism sector will be repealed: accelerated depreciation and the 200 percent allowable deduction for marketing and promotion costs. Instead the Government is considering offering a 200 percent allowable deduction for employing a qualified Seychellois graduate holding a Certificate, Diploma, or Degree or higher from an institution endorsed by Seychelles Qualification Authority (SQA); a 150 percent deduction for emoluments paid by an employer to a Post-Secondary or Tertiary, who is in full-time education and in part-time employment, and 150 percent for a business paying for training end …

French social security decree impacts yachting community – by Emma Batchelder

French social security decree impacts yachting community. Posted on Jan 22, 2018 by Emma Batchelder in Crew News – (click here for original article)

By Emma Batchelder

Members of the yachting community have gained some clarification on French social security tax responsibilities. Although the decree was suspended, it is possible that crew members may still be liable to pay taxes for now, particularly crew members who reside and work in France. Crew may wish to seek legal advice for their specific scenario.

Seafarers and nonresident employers of seafarers who spend more than 90 consecutive days in France or French waters are required to make contributions to ENIM, the French mariners’ social security agency, since the passing of a decree in March 2017. This has had a major impact on tourism and the yachting industries, but relief seems imminent with the laws potentially being overturned in early 2018. As of Sept. 13, the decree was suspended by the prime minister of France following reports of drastic 40-50 percent drops in revenue during tourist season.

Paying taxes is enough to give anyone a headache, let alone yacht crew, who have likely joined the world of yachting from a foreign country. Earning a salary in one currency, while living and traveling the world, and acquiring global investments along the way – it’s likely that heads are spinning. For many of these yacht crew, a lot of time is spent in the south of France, namely Antibes, the yachting hub of the Mediterranean.

French social security decree impacts yachting community.

On March 11, 2017, at a meeting in France, a decree was added and published in the Official Journal of the French Republic. Decree No. 2017-307 sets out obligations for both yacht owners and yacht crew in respect of MLC 2006. Affected seafarers who spend a 90-day-plus rolling period in France or French waters should be paying social security taxes. Leaving France or French waters would reset the count.

Foreign employers were directed to an ENIM agent registered and based in France. The agent acts on the behalf of the employer and obtains all necessary information regarding the crew list: their positions, salary and the cruising itinerary. ENIM receives this information and calculate everyone’s fee. It is likely that the employer will be asked to pay a security deposit equal to six months of employer and employee contributions.

An example of the contribution costs was shared from ENIM:

As a captain on a pleasure craft of 200 feet in international navigation for 30 days: wage contributions of €422 and employer costs of €1,245
Seaman on a pleasure craft of 200 feet in international navigation for 30 days: wage contributions of €208 and employer costs of €614

Please note these numbers are directly from the French authorities, and without declaring the rate of pay, have limited value. But, these costs are significant, and the decree was disputed by many industry professionals.

Seafarers already contributing social security to an official agency of another country that is an EU or EEA member state, or any state that has a bilateral social security treaty – such as the United States and Canada – are exempt from contributing. However, you must be making social security payments in those territories; simply carrying a passport is not sufficient to be exempted. Our Australian and New Zealand colleagues should note that there is no bilateral treaty for those countries, therefore exemption does not apply. The contribution amounts due are identical to those paid by, and on behalf of, French seafarers (7.5 percent on earned income), and carry a 0.5 percent-per-day interest rate on late payment.

Benefits of this plan are meant to be:

ENIM will provide the seafarer with health/medical care and retirement benefits.
After 25 years of contributed service, and at a minimum age of 50, ENIM will provide a full retirement pension. The pensionable age will be 55 years if the seafarer has completed less than 25 years of service.
After 15 years of contributed service, seafarers will qualify for a pro-rata retirement pension, however, this will only apply after the seafarer has reached age 55.
In the event of a seafarer’s death, there are provisions in place to pay retirement benefits to certain family members.

How this new law currently impacts yacht owners is:

Nonresident employers of yacht crew who are required to make social security contributions in France will need to show proof of a “bond of guarantee” from a bank. Failure to do so will result in payment in the form of a “security deposit” payable to ENIM.
Appointing a French-based agent to make payments and act on behalf of the employer may be desired.
Payment is required to be received by the 25th day of each month.
For each day of late payment, a penalty of 0.5 percent of contributions will be owed.
Failure to pay the contributions could constitute a criminal offense, or eventually lead to the yacht’s arrest.

In conclusion, the changes being made to tax situations for seafarers are even more reason to keep good track of all travel that you undertake, and any money that you earn:

Keep vessel logbooks up to date.
Be consistent with keeping your seaman’s discharge book up to date.
Do not throw away any expired passports.
Keep a travel diary as your log book. Audits can take place several years after a tax year has ended and you may need to support your claim with the necessary documentation.
If necessary, have your employer give you an official affidavit.

As a seafarer, knowing who to pay taxes to has been a rather gray area for quite some time. Yacht crew spend significant amounts of time in multiple countries every year, and generally make very desirable salaries. Knowing whether you are following the laws and abiding by the rules can be daunting, which is why it is important to stay up to date with any changes.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may have social security or tax withholdings obligations:
Do you employ any U.S. or French citizens?
Are you or the vessel in the U.S. or U.S. waters for more than 183 days in a 365-day year?
Are you or the vessel in France or French waters for more than 90 consecutive days?
Are you or the vessel in France or French waters for more than 183 days in a calendar year?

France will not be the only country who tries to claim taxes on seafarers’ earnings. While this first attempt has been poorly executed, we anticipate other countries will make similar attempts in the future.

This article is for information purposes only. The information and opinion expressed in this document does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice.

Former chief stewardess Emma Batchelder is PR manager at Luxury Yacht Group in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, visit

Malta: Residence Programme Rules

Malta: Residence Programme Rules
Last Updated: 5 January 2018
Article by Simon Xuereb – KPMG Malta

Malta is becoming an increasingly popular destination for many foreigners looking to relocate. The small island boasts a stable economy, sublime climate, as well as numerous leisure and cultural attractions. English is widely spoken which facilitates settling in and overcomes language barriers. A 2016 survey conducted by the Expat Insider ranks the Maltese islands as the second–best place in the world for foreigners to live globally, and as the top destination in Europe.
The Programme

The Residence Programme Rules (RPR) enacted by the Maltese Government allows beneficiaries and their qualifying dependents to qualify for a special tax rate subject to fulfilling certain criteria, whereby the beneficiary:

Is either a national from an EU Member State, the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland;
Is neither a Maltese national nor a permanent resident of Malta;
Holds a qualifying property by way of purchase at a minimum value of €220,000 or by way of lease at a minimum rent of €8,750 per annum for properties in Gozo or the South of Malta (per a predefined list of qualifying areas). For properties purchased anywhere else, the minimum property value is €275,000 or minimum rent of €9,600 per annum for leaseholds. Notes: the property cannot be sublet, only the beneficiary and their dependents per the Programme may reside in the property.
Is not a beneficiary in terms of any other special tax status;
Pays an annual minimum tax of at least €15,000 upon income arising outside of Malta which is received in/ remitted
to Malta;
Possesses adequate economic resources to maintain themselves and their dependents;
Holds a comprehensive health insurance covering themselves and all dependents for all risks across the whole of the EU;
Can effectively communicate in one of Malta’s official languages (Maltese or English);
Is of good character.

Tax Implications

Malta’s remittance basis of taxation means non-domiciled individuals are only subject to Maltese tax on income arising outside of Malta to the extent that it is received in Malta. The status grants the beneficiaries and their qualifying dependents a flat 15% Malta tax rate on any such income which is remitted to / received in Malta, subject to the payment of the minimum tax mentioned above (payable in full in both the year when the tax status is received and the year when it ceases to apply, as well as each full tax year for which the status applies). Any chargeable income and gains arising in Malta would generally be taxable at a flat 35% rate of tax. Finally, any capital gains arising outside of Malta, would not be subject to Maltese tax.
Other considerations

Where the beneficiary applies for or becomes a permanent resident of Malta, s/he is no longer eligible to benefit from the special tax status and becomes taxable on all income and gains on a worldwide basis, whether accrued in or remitted to Malta as set out in the Income Tax Act.
Only the beneficiary and their dependents are entitled to reside in the qualifying property; household staff (subject to various conditions) may also be permitted to reside with the beneficiary, however, they would not be entitled to benefit from the same benefits and tax rates granted under the Programme.

Tax Residence Certificate

A Tax Residence Certificate (‘TRC’) may be issued by the Maltese Inland Revenue Department, however issuance of such is subject to the beneficiary satisfying to the Maltese Inland Revenue that s/he is a tax resident of Malta in terms of Maltese domestic law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.