Bulletin 26

Printable Version

IRELAND: Ground prepared for vacant residential property tax

The Dublin government has commissioned an independent review of its plans to introduce a vacant residential property tax, as mandated by Finance Act 2017. At the same time it is inviting comments from interested parties, with submissions to be received by 29 June.

TAX TRANSPARENCY: Europe set to blacklist US next year

The US may be placed on the European Union’s blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions next June if it fails to amend its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act transparency rules to meet EU standards, according to tax accountants EY. The US Tax Cuts & Jobs Act 2017 has already been referred to the OECD Forum for Harmful Tax Practices.

UK: Sanctions Act placed on statute book

The UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act has received royal assent, incorporating so-called ‘Magnitsky’ provisions allowing the government to impose sanctions on private individuals whom it suspects of being in some way connected with ‘human rights abuses’. It also mandates the Westminster government to impose fully public registers of company beneficial ownership on the British Overseas Territories by 2020.

EUROPE: Ministers agree intermediaries tax planning amendment

As expected, EU Member States’ finance ministers last week agreed to remove the Bahamas and St Kitts & Nevis from their blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions, against their undertakings to reform their corporate tax systems. Ministers also agreed to adopt the Commission’s proposal to amend Mutual Assistance Directive (2011/16/EU), and require financial intermediaries to report ‘potentially aggressive’ cross-border tax planning schemes.

EUROPE: Cash controls extended to cards, freight shipments and gold

Finance ministers of EU Member States have agreed to extend the EUR10,000 declaration threshold on cash moved in or out of the EU area, to cover cash sent in postal parcels, freight shipments, prepaid cards or precious commodities. The authorities will also be able to seize amounts lower than the declaration threshold where there are suspicions of criminal activity. The new rules, agreed with the EU Parliament and Commission, do not impose any restrictions on levels of cash payments in member states.

AUSTRALIA: Clampdown on large cash payments

Australia’s government plans an economy-wide cash payment limit of AUD10,000 to combat the black economy. It proposes to apply it to payments made to businesses for goods and services from 1 July 2019.

NETHERLANDS: No beneficial ownership register until next year at the earliest

The Dutch government has postponed until 2019 the introduction of a register of company beneficial ownership. The register should have been operating since June 2017, under the timetable set by the EU Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, but the EU’s recent adoption of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive has prompted the Netherlands to further delay the so-called UBO-register, which will now have to cover trusts as well as companies.

LUXEMBOURG: Companies using blacklisted jurisdictions to be audited more often

The Luxembourg tax authorities have announced they will apply stricter monitoring of transactions with jurisdictions on the EU blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions, and that taxpayers using structures or arrangements involving blacklisted jurisdictions can expect to be audited more often.

FRANCE: Bitcoins to be taxed as movable assets – sometimes

France’s Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d’Etat) has pronounced that cryptocurrencies are movable assets and individual taxpayers’ gains from bitcoin transfers may be taxed as capital gains. However the Conseil’s decision states that bitcoin gains may still be taxed as non-commercial or as industrial and commercial gains in certain circumstances, as they have been up to now.

SWITZERLAND: Money laundering amendments will enforce beneficial ownership checks

Switzerland has begun consultation on amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act, to take account of recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force’s 2016 mutual evaluation report on the jurisdiction. The amendments will introduce due diligence obligations for certain services regarding establishment, management or administration of companies and trusts, and an explicit duty on financial intermediaries to verify and maintain up-to-date beneficial ownership information. Associations at risk of being misused for the financing of terrorism or money laundering, mostly international charities, will have to be entered in the commercial register.

US: Customer due diligence rules prompt banks to close accounts

Expatriate clients of certain US banks have begun receiving letters warning them that their accounts are to be closed because of new customer due diligence rules. The banks include Fidelity, Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

Sources: STEP | IFC Review

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