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Expat Tax: British Overseas Territories’ Agreement

The big news to hit expat headlines in the last week has been about British Overseas Territories such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands being forced to agree to new disclosure rules, mainly in a bid to keep Europe and America happy, and in an effort to clamp down on the likes of tax evasion and money laundering.

The so-called British tax havens, like the Virgin Islands for example, have come under fire from nations such as Austria, which in turn have been under scrutiny for their own less than transparent and ‘fair’ tax rules.  Austria had in the past accused both the UK and the US of enjoying and utilising their own tax havens, whilst cracking down on everyone else’s.

The good news is that if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.  But as we all know, when big brother starts demanding disclosure of just basic bank account information, it’s a very thin line to then cross before all privacy is eroded.

At the moment if you have money in any of the British Overseas Territories which are, in effect, tax havens – so this includes the Caymans, Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Montserrat, Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands and even the Isle of Man – but does not (yet) include Jersey or Guernsey for example – you may wish to review your bank based holdings if you’re concerned about the new disclosure rules.

According to Reuters, these locations, described by the publication rather derogatorily as: “effectively colonies with some self-government” will now have to “automatically provide details of the ownership of bank accounts, and about how they are used…”

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