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If you have arrived in the UK as a non-dom and are currently working for a UK employer but with duties overseas, you could save money by claiming Overseas Workday Relief. This relief treats a portion of the earnings from a UK employment (which has been partially or entirely conducted abroad) as if it were a foreign source of income.

However, certain expat tax alterations made in 2013 amended the criteria under which such relief could be claimed. In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of how to qualify for OWR, as well as how to claim.

Expat Tax: Who Can Claim Overseas Workday Relief (OWR)?

With a little bit of planning, OWR offers a legitimate expat tax saving for non-domiciled overseas individuals (also known as ‘non-doms’). Provided that non-doms file their UK tax returns on the remittance basis, OWR can be claimed, meaning that no tax is payable on part (or all) of earnings related to foreign duties.

To be eligible to claim, you must:

  • Be a tax resident in the UK.
  • Be employed in the UK, but conduct duties abroad (either wholly or in part).
  • Not have been domiciled within the UK for the whole of the relevant tax year. See below for more information on domiciles.
  • Keep precise records in order to support your OWR claim.
  • Be paid into an offshore bank account.
  • Claim the remittance basis of taxation.

In addition:

  • The current tax year must follow three consecutive tax years during which you were not a UK resident, or be one of the two tax years immediately after. It is important to note that there is no limit to the number of three-year periods in which OWR can be claimed – but there needs to be three consecutive years of non-residence prior to your return to the UK.
  • It is preferable – but not mandatory – that the earnings are paid into a qualifying account (see below for more information).

If you are able to satisfy the requirements listed above, your foreign earnings will not be subject to taxation by the UK government.

For example…

Sarah’s job has recently relocated to the UK, but requires her to travel 30 of the time to conduct non-UK business. As a result, she may only need to pay tax in the UK for 70 of her earnings; however, if she intends to claim the remittance basis, she will forfeit her tax-free allowance for income tax and capital gains tax. Moreover,  if she was a resident of the UK for a certain amount of time prior to this claim, she will be required to pay an annual charge (£30,000 if she was a resident for seven out of the nine previous tax years; and £60,000 if she was a resident for at least twelve of the previous fourteen tax years).

What is a Domicile?

Any discussion of OWR will contain many references to ‘domiciles’ and what it means to be ‘non-domiciled’. For avoidance of doubt, your domicile of origin is usually taken from your parents (typically the country your father considered to be his permanent home at the time of your birth). Once you reach the age of 18, you’re able to change this and establish a domicile of choice – if you move abroad and don’t intend to return, for example.

If you’re not sure which country you’re domiciled in, we recommend that you seek advice from an IBISS & CO tax adviser or consult the HMRC relevant guidance (i.e. ‘Residence, Domicile and the Remittance Basis’).

What is a Qualifying Account?

In order to claim OWR, it is crucial that your foreign earnings are not remitted to the UK. Fortunately, the Special Mixed Fund rules (introduced in April 2013) have made this process easier. Instead of operating the Mixed Fund rules (meaning that you have to check the remittance position on each transaction), you can now add up all UK remittances and consolidate into a single remittance at the end of the tax year.  In order to take advantage of this simplified process, however, you need to have a qualifying account.

To qualify, the nominated account must:

  • Be your bank account (it can be yours alone or a joint account shared with another individual).
  • Be an overseas account.
  • On the day that the first deposit of qualifying earnings is paid into the account, it should have a balance of no more than £10.

Please note that you don’t have to have a qualifying account in order to claim OWR – it’s just easier to administrate if you do.

What About Section 690 ITEPA 2003 – Is This Still Relevant for OWR and Expat Tax?

Yes, this section still stands under the new rules. Under Section 690 ITEPA 2003, your employer can request permission from HMRC to apply PAYE solely to your earnings from work conducted within the UK.

How to Claim Overseas Workday Relief

You don’t need to pay tax if you earn less than £2,000 from working abroad. However, if you earn over £2,000 and you’d like to claim OWR, you will need to report your income and make the claim via a self-assessment tax return. Be sure to keep accurate records – all documentation related to foreign travel, for instance – as HMRC may require you to provide evidence to support your claim.

Looking for advice on OWR or expatriate taxes? IBISS & CO can help. With a team comprising both expert tax consultants and experienced accountants, we’re qualified to assist with any aspect of your business. Please phone us on 0203 808 0999 or send an email to office@ibissandco.com, providing details of your expat tax query, and we’ll get back to you without delay.

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