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The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is a global standard for the automatic exchange of information which has been commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Over one hundred countries have so far committed to it, and the list is still growing.

Overseas financial institutions will be obliged to provide details to HMRC about anyone who owns foreign investments and appears to be a UK resident, for example by having a UK postal address.

Financial Institutions and certain relevant persons, including professional businesses providing tax advice, will be required to notify certain clients:

What's new?

In 2017 the OECD published a new consultation “Mandatory Disclosure Rules for Addressing CRS Avoidance Arrangements and Offshore Structures”. It considered :

Following this, in March 2018 the OECD issued new model disclosure rules requiring intermediaries such as lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, banks and other service providers to inform tax authorities of any schemes they put in place for their clients (as promoters or service providers) to avoid reporting under the CRS or to disguise beneficial owners of offshore entities or trusts.

Reports

Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories started reporting during 2017.

The data that will be reported to HMRC will include:

Reports will include information on remittance basis users which is likely to be of particular interest to HMRC.

Banks are not under any obligation to notify their clients that information can or will be disclosed to tax authorities of other CRS member countries.

Next Steps

Individuals with assets overseas should check that their affairs are compliant: if they are then they will have peace of mind; if they are not then although the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility has now closed it may still be possible to take advantage of other disclosure facilities.  In any case, making a prompted disclosure is more beneficial than waiting for an HMRC challenge.  See Making a tax disclosure.

Client notification

Agents should consider the requirements of the International Tax Compliance Regulations 2015 SI 2015/878, as amended by The International Tax Compliance (Client Notifications) Regulations 2016, which are effective from 30 September 2016 and which will require them to contact certain clients to tell them about the Common Reporting Standard.  

HMRC launched a quick 12-day consultation on the proposed regulations in February 2016.

The original deadline for client notifications was 30 April 2017, however due to delays in publishing guidance on this issue the deadline for notifying clients was set as 31 August 2017.

Notification is required by reporting financial institutions under the Directive in Administrative Co-operation (DAC) or the CRS, and also includes a relevant person who:

Offshore advice or services means in respect of a participating jurisdiction, see schedule 1 of International Tax Compliance Regulations 2015 SI 2015/878, or the US, and relating to:

  1. A financial account held in that jurisdiction
  2. A source of foreign income as defined by s830 ITTOIA 2005 arising in that jurisdiction
  3. A source of employment income, as defined by s7(2) ITEPA 2003, arising from that jurisdiction
  4. An asset held or situated in that jurisdiction.

Connected person has the meaning set out in s1122 Corporation Tax Act 2010.

There may be a requirement to notify UK and non-UK persons.

Schedule 3 to the regulations sets out the form of the notification, see Client Notification (offshore bank accounts and investments).

What action HMRC will take on receipt of all this new data remains to be seen, however it is likely that a number of potentially costly investigations will be opened, and that invitations will be issued to individuals to encourage them to make disclosures where they are not able to confirm compliance.

Updates

6 October 2016 added link to new guides: client notification guide and making a tax disclosure guide.

13 September 2016: updated to confirm new 31 August 2017 deadline and confirmation of who has to notify and what they have to notify.

28 July 2016: updated to confirm that 30 April 2017 deadline for notifying clients has been extended due to delays in publishing relevant guidance. Some minor changes and links added.