At the time of the introduction of the concept of deemed domicile (DD) for income tax (IT) and capital gains tax (CGT) purposes in the UK, in April 2017, there was much concern about the impact this would have on non-doms remaining in the UK, and separately but importantly, non-residents choosing to make the UK their home.

HMRC yesterday released detailed statistics covering the non-domiciled population between the 2008/09 and 2017/18 tax years, the significance being that the remittance basis charge (RBC) was introduced in 2008/09. By way of brief recap, under those rules a resident on dom (RND) who had been resident for 7 out of the previous 9 years would have to pay a £30,000 RBC to be taxed on the remittance basis. Further escalating charges were introduced in 2012, under which a RND who had been resident for 12 out of the previous 14 years would have to pay a £50,000 RBC. In 2015 the £90,000 RBC was introduced, which applied where RNDs wished to be taxed on the remittance basis and had been resident for 17 out of the previous 20 years. In each case it was possible to elect to pay the charge one year and not another.

In April 2017 matters changed dramatically with the introduction of deemed domiciled, under which RNDs who have been resident for 15 out of the previous 20 years can no longer elect to be taxed on the remittance basis and are instead subject to arising basis tax on worldwide income and gains (with some ongoing favourable treatment for protected trusts).

A number of interesting points stand out in the figures released yesterday.

First, the total number of taxpayers claiming non dom status in their self-assessment (SA) returns has gone down from 137,000 in 2008/09 to 78,000 in 2018/19. There are also less UK RNDs, down from 98,900 in 2008/09 to 64,000 in 2018/19. Which at first glance is unsurprising given that many will be DD.

In terms of immediate impact of the DD rules, the two years prior to 2018/19 saw a fall in the number of non-domiciled taxpayers, with 78,700 in the 2017/18 year and 91,200 in the 2016/1 year (before the deemed domicile concept came into force). HMRC concludes that 'this suggests the impact of the deemed domicile reforms has started to stabilise and so the number of non-domiciles has remained largely unchanged from the previous year'

We also see a steep drop in those paying the RBC, assumedly directly connected to the introduction of deemed domicile in April 2017, with 4,700 taxpayers paying the RBC for the 2016/17 and 1,800 taxpayers paying the RBC for the 2017/18 year. Again not a great surprise given that many will now be deemed dom.

Tax contribution

What really jumps out though is the meaningful tax contribution made by non-doms, with total IT, CGT and National Insurance (NICs) contributions for 2018/19 being £7,828m. Interestingly, the total tax take from non-doms electing who are taxed on the arising basis is meaningfully lower than those on the remittance basis (with remittance basis taxpayers paying combined £6.046m in IT, CGT and NICs for 17/18) while arising basis non-doms for the same period paid £1.442m for the same taxes.

London benefits most

The statistics also reveal, again unsurprisingly, that London had the largest non-dom population in 2017/18, with 58% of non-dom being in London and 74% of UK IT, CGT and NICs being paid in London.

Contrast with IHT take

In a separate series of figures also released by HMRC yesterday, the total IHT receipts for 2019/20 totaled £5.2bn, being a 4% decrease on the IHT revenue for 2018/19. While there are many interpretations of why there has been a decrease, the main factor is viewed as the introduction of the residence nil rate band in 2017/18, which will now be showing in effect.

However, what is especially interesting is this shows in even starker relief the extent of the contribution made by non-doms to the UK tax take, when one contrasts total IHT take for the past year with meaningful total IT, CGT and NIC contributions by non-doms of £7,828m for 2018/19 (or over £7bn for a clearer comparison) for the same period.

So what does this all tell us?

At one level it is slightly reassuring, that there is a relatively stable population of non-doms since the deemed domicile changes, however what is not as easily discerned from these figures are those who have arrived since April 2017 and claiming the remittance basis, and arguably the fact that the figures show the impact of the deemed domicile changes has stabilised also means less people are arriving who claim non dom status. Which is not surprising given concerns about the stability of the non dom regime and how welcoming the UK is to non-doms.

Given the meaningful tax contribution made by non-doms it is important that the UK revitalises its appeal to non-doms, and one clear way to do that is to ensure stability of the rules. Add to this the political focus on ensuring London starts to thrive again after lockdown, and the sheer number of non-doms in London, their importance to the UK becomes ever more evident. In that respect, the many tax reviews currently taking place may cause greater concern, although it can be said that most competitor jurisdictions will also be looking to raise taxes as a result of the impact of Covid 19. However, it sounds a note of caution that a wealth tax would certainly not assist stability and certainty, which, given the economic importance of non-doms to the exchequer, should not be overlooked.

Originally published 31 July, 2020

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