UK General Election: Voting In UK Elections As A Non-UK Tax Resident

WL
Withers LLP

Contributor

Trusted advisors to successful people and businesses across the globe with complex legal needs
Non-UK tax resident voters can still participate in UK elections by registering as overseas voters and voting by post, proxy, or in person without affecting their UK tax status.
UK Tax
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Individuals eligible to vote in the UK had until 18 June to register for the upcoming UK General Election on 4 July, where not already registered. However, this article sets out information explains how non-UK tax resident registered voters living outside the UK can still vote in UK Parliamentary elections and referenda without affecting their UK tax status.

Who is eligible to vote when not UK resident?

To vote in a General Election while resident outside the UK, an individual must be aged 18 or over and be a British or Irish citizen, and not legally excluded from voting. Overseas voter registration is usually effective for three years from the date of registration, and a reminder is usually sent to reconfirm active registration before this lapses. The 15 year limit on overseas voter registration has now been removed.

How do I vote if I am an overseas voter (also referred to as 'overseas voter')?

It is possible to register to vote as an overseas voter if their meet the requirements to vote, but their ordinarily live outside the UK. Overseas voters can either vote by post, or by proxy. If visiting the UK on polling day, it is possible to vote in person at a local polling station.

The application to register as an overseas voter must be made online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. The form requests the last UK address the individual was registered to vote at, or their last UK residential address before moving overseas and their National Insurance ('NI') number. If they do not have an NI number, this can be stated in the form and alternative proof of identification provided, such as a copy of their passport and a recent utility bill or an attestation from an authorised person confirming their identity.

Once successfully registered, an overseas voter can vote:

  1. in person at a polling station in the UK by contacting the overseas electoral registration office responsible for their UK address to request that their receive their poll card via email or are added to the overseas voter list for that area. Proof of UK address may be requested. The overseas voter can then present their digital poll card together with their identification documents to their local UK polling station on polling day in order to vote in person, identifying themself as an overseas registered voter on arrival.
  2. by post for a specific election or for a specified time period up to three years (extendable). If an overseas voter registers for a postal vote, ballot papers and instructions should be sent to the overseas address given. They must be received at the designated counting location by the specified deadline to be counted, or
  3. by proxy, which requires overseas voters to nominate an appropriate person to vote in the UK on their behalf, either for a specific election or for a specified time period. The overseas voter and their proxy must both already be eligible and registered to vote in the relevant election(s).

Will registering to vote in UK elections cause me to become UK tax resident?

In short, no. As part of registering to vote as an overseas voter, a current or previous address in the UK must be provided. However, having an address in the UK and/or voting in an election while in the UK for a visit are not determinative of being tax resident. Whether or not an individual is UK tax resident in any tax year is determined under the UK's Statutory Residence Test ('SRT') which does not feature overseas electoral registration or voting in UK elections as a factor that causes a person to be deemed UK tax resident.

Further, while electoral registers are not actively shared with HM Revenue and Customs, electoral registers are public and their information can be sold to third parties. Voters can opt out of the public electoral register when they register or at any time thereafter to keep their address and contact details confidential and not available for sale. Alternatively, where there is a legal basis for their name and address being kept out of the public domain (eg where there is a Court Order granting anonymity or protection from harassment or stalking), overseas voters can complete an application for anonymous registration and supply the relevant supporting documentation, which, if accepted, will ensure their details are kept completely confidential by the Chief Overseas electoral Registrar unless it there is a legal requirement for their release, giving enhanced privacy over their data.

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.

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