Over the past year, I have come across many an expat, not just UK expats, but Dutch, Belgium and German who have said to me, ‘I am not doing the Modelo 720 as the EU has ruled it is illegal, and also the Spanish authorities will never find out if I don’t declare.’
Sadly, I have to tell them they are now wrong on both counts. Firstly, on 15 February 2017, the European Commission accepted that Spain has the right to require residents to declare overseas assets, however, what the Commission does disagree with is the severity of punishments for late or inaccurate submissions. The EU commission has given the Spanish authorities 2 months to rectify this, otherwise it will take the matter to the EU Court of Justice. The requirement to submit the Modelo 720 form, however, is not under challenge.
Secondly, on the 31 May 2017, all EU countries, plus the UK and its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, will automatically share all financial information on all financial assets held in their countries by tax residents of another country, to the country they are registered as being resident in.
As of 31 December 2016, these countries, dependencies and territories will report the value of all bank accounts, insurance policies, shareholdings, investments, and trusts, etc (regardless of the balance). Additionally, they will also notify them of what withdrawals have been made during 2016 and if an account has been closed during the year.
From May 2018, over 100 countries worldwide will automatically be sharing all financial information on an annual basis. The goal is to allow tax authorities to obtain a clearer understanding of financial assets held abroad by their residents, for tax purposes, and is primarily aimed at preventing tax evasion.
There are ways to ease this reporting burden and to ensure you stay on the right side of the taxman, whilst minimising your tax liabilities, one such way is to use a tax compliant investment bond.