Nobody can predict what will happen when the UK leaves the European Union (EU) on 29th March 2019. In fact, the only thing we can be certain of at this point is that the UK will be leaving the EU.
Already the rumour mill has begun to turn amongst UK seafarers, with word in the wind that the Seafarers Earnings Deduction (SED) will be abolished once the UK is no longer a member of the union. However, as the UK’s tax laws are not dictated or affected by EU regulations or directives, this is by no means the case. The SED will remain in place for the foreseeable future with no current discussions about the deduction being reduced or removed.
As many of you may be aware, the yachting community are not famous for their inclination to declare their income to the authorities, even since the introduction of the Automatic Exchange of Information. The UK has a very intelligent approach to the taxation imposed on your income; a 100% deduction to encourage those who are eligible to disclose their income in the UK. It follows that it is highly likely a portion of this income will be reinvested into the UK economy. The current system engineers a situation by which income which may otherwise have remained undeclared, benefits the UK economy, whilst allowing you to achieve tax transparency. As such there does not seem to be any reason why this system would be changed post-Brexit.
Whilst you may be much more likely to hear the prediction of post-Brexit doom and gloom, quiet whispers have begun to circulate of a bright future with exciting opportunities ahead. Many are now discussing the prospect of the UK as a corporate tax haven for European businesses. Industry sources suggest that UK policymakers will defy the wishes of the EU and drop corporation tax below the level of any of the other 27 current EU members. Could the UK become the Singapore of the west? Only time will tell.
If you haven’t yet bought your tax affairs up to date, it’s certainly not too late to enter the UK system. As an EU citizen, current processes allow an easy path to migrate your affairs into the UK system and you have until March to take advantage of this. If you’re not yet taking advantage of the deduction, it may be time to begin asking yourself “Why?”. You will need a UK National Insurance Number and Address to begin the process. If you are a non-EU citizen with enough ties to the UK, as long as you do not have tax residency elsewhere, you too are welcome to take advantage of the deduction.
In summary, despite the predictions of post-Brexit hardship, the future looks brighter than many might like to say. The UK taxation system will remain arguably the most forgiving in the world for Seafarers, and UK based businesses may yet reap the benefits of leaving the EU too.
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