Hi Oliver, you are the MD of London Expatriate Tax Services.
Can you tell us about your career ?
I started my 25 year tax career with a law degree at London School of Economics. Next, I moved to work for the “Big Four” accounting firms for 14+ years. This was mainly at Deloitte, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Having taken exams in personal and business taxes, I moved on to specialise in expatriate taxation, often also called Global Mobility which covers “everything expat”. I have been running my own tax businesses for more than 10 years.
Can you tell us about other online work ?
On the Expat Focus website, I am the go-to person for UK tax advice for expatriates. I field tax questions from people anywhere on the planet. Secondly, we have issued quite a few Expat Focus podcasts which are still all available online. In addition, you may have seen some of my recent tax videos covering diverse topics such as Coming to the UK, or Moving to Hong Kong.
Do you enjoy your work ?
I love it.
What type of tax services do you provide ?
We are always required to deliver the standard work such as ….. tax returns, expatriate payrolls, registrations in the UK, managing leavers from the UK, pension calculations, tax equalisations, writing assignment letters etc. This is just the beginning of our work. My skill or specialism lies in tailoring advisory work to client needs eg an Australian in the UK with a property : managing her whole UK tax world; and Australian taxes.
We also have many US and EU nationals living here, with stock options and restricted stock based elsewhere. That is a very challenging and interesting area of tax ( “ cross-border compensation work”). We work hard to minimise costs.
What has been the impact of Brexit in the last few years ?
We won’t dwell on the history of recent years, it’s history. Far better to talk about 2021 and later years. The short answer is that people still need to move abroad and come to work in the UK. Large corporates re-organise, but just as a French bank may relocate its headquarters out of the UK, another multinational will relocate to London. In other words, the global economy keeps turning, and people still want to live in London, just as Brits love to move to Spain, France etc etc.
Let’s discuss general issues that always apply to moving abroad. What should any expatriate do when arriving in the UK or leaving it ?
Every person must talk to a tax advisor. You may never use that advisor again after the first chat, but you will need a guide in the beginning. Too many pitfalls ( and bonuses) to discuss.
Is an expatriate tax return like a normal tax return ?
Unfortunately no, there are many more complications, but this complexity can produce significant tax reliefs; UK and foreign governments greatly need certain migrant labour.
Social security aka National Insurance (NIC) in UK parlance is not a major issue is it ?
Yes, it really is a massive issue. It is definitely a key part of our business and one which is very rewarding for clients. The calculation of liabilities can be confusing for anyone, but there can also be massive state pension rewards for people ( via UK NIC).
What is the best part of your job ?
I like to help clients to de-stress. In many cases, our clients will dread sorting out their taxes or they imagine they will be punished by HM Revenue & Customs. The punishment idea is wholly false, I have never seen that. In terms of stress levels, I can reduce these dramatically and often immediately.
Do you agree with the UK Government’s tax policies ?
We never ever comment on these things, and it is not our place to. When a Chancellor introduces a new incentive for people to move here, that’s great, but we are apolitical. Of course we are.
Let’s end on a little controversy. Your job could disappear one day, if your industry can automate the tax process ?
This is not a realistic prospect thankfully. The tax returns may use more “AI” or full automation but the Government IT can never be prepared for the unlimited variety of cases that we see. For example, one Canadian client had a civil partnership with his Australian spouse, then divorced. They require inheritance tax planning in relation to their Spanish and Jersey properties. Their children were born in the UK. That’s a fairly common scenario ie 3 or 4 different countries involved.
Oliver, thank you – and it’s always good to put you under pressure !
I am here to help with expat tax questions about anything.