You may have spent more days in the UK than you intended as a result of COVID-19 and may be concerned about your tax residence status.
However did you know that there is an ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule which may help your position?
How is tax residency determined?
Tax residence is determined using a statutory test set out in legislation. The test is based on the number of days you spend in the UK.
If you spend 183 days or more in any tax year in the UK you will be deemed to be a UK resident. However, it is possible to spend substantially fewer days in the UK and still be UK resident, depending on how many other connecting factors you have to the UK. These other connecting factors include things such as having family in the UK, having accommodation in the UK available for your use and working in the UK.
The ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule
The test contains a special rule where up to 60 days spent in the UK can be discounted for the purposes of the day count if you are only in the UK due to ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The rule applies where (a) you would not be present in the UK at the end of that day, but for exceptional circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from leaving the UK; and (b) you intend to leave the UK as soon as those circumstances permit. Examples of circumstances that may be ‘exceptional’ are set out in the relevant legislation and include (a) national or local emergencies such as war, civil unrest or natural disasters; and (b) a sudden or life-threatening illness or injury.
For the rule to apply, you need to be prevented from leaving the UK due to circumstances beyond your control and intending to leave the UK as soon as you can.
So how might this apply to COVID-19?
HMRC have published guidance clarifying the circumstances in relation to COVID-19 which are considered exceptional. The guidance provides as follows:
Whether days spent in the UK can be disregarded due to exceptional circumstances will always depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.
However, if you:
- are quarantined or advised by a health professional or public health guidance to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus;
- find yourself subjected to official Government advice not to travel from the UK as a result of the virus;
- are unable to leave the UK as a result of the closure of international borders; or
- are asked by your employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus, the circumstances are considered as exceptional.
One important point to note is that the maximum of 60 days in a tax year that can be disregarded due to exceptional circumstances will continue to apply. The importance of keeping records and documents in support of any claim is also stressed.
How can Gherson help?
Gherson can help with a wide range of tax and estate planning matters. We also have extensive experience of working with HMRC and dealing with HMRC investigations. The UK tax system is complicated and it is essential that proper advice is obtained. Please do not hesitate to contact us or send us an e-mail.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.