Alongside an imminent price rise in houses in Britain (The Economist) and several other factors to take into account in considering moving to Malta, your domicile status and subjectivity to UK inheritance tax should also feature in the picture.
It is useful to know that neither permanently leaving the UK nor living in Malta automatically relieves you from UK inheritance law. The overriding principle in both these circumstances is domicile and the complexity surrounding its laws.
Domicile and inheritance tax
Under English laws, there are three types of domicile;
Without going into much of the detail concerning each one this time, it will suffice to know that these three case scenarios can make it rather difficult and complicated to be exempt from UK inheritance law as it will take more than a permanent change of address on paper.
Anyone who is UK domiciled is automatically subject to inheritance tax on their worldwide assets (up to £325,000 per individual at a 40 per cent rate). Since transfers between spouses are exempt, a non-UK domicile spouse may choose to be treated as UK domicile for this intent.
Under UK law, one’s place of domicile is not the country with one’s closest personal association as much as it is the place where one’s life is deemed to be centred. This requires physical and tax presence in that particular country, the intention to establish permanent residence there as well as severing as many ties as possible with the UK. Here, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) might be keeping a close eye on all your UK-related activity, including any memberships and trips.
Mitigating inheritance tax
For inheritance tax purposes, if you were UK domiciled for at least 17 of the last 20 tax years, you would still be treated as UK domicile. Leaving Malta and moving to another country would also reinstate your UK domicile of origin unless you are able to demonstrate otherwise.
On a positive note however, it is not without good reason that inheritance tax is often referred to as a ‘voluntary’ tax. Planning in advance, particularly if your worldwide estate is worth over £325,000 and in relation to the Malta/UK double tax treaty could spare you as well as your successors undesired tax bills.
Experts in the fields of UK domicile and inheritance tax and Maltese tax would be able to provide personal guidance on your tax position and asset management in relation to inheritance tax mitigation. This would render your move more worthwhile and leave more to be gained from your lifelong investments.
If you’d like more information about relocating to Malta or paying tax in Malta, do not hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.