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Sam, Accountant
Category: Tax
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I am a UK citizen, age 57, but I have lived on boats, mainly

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I am a UK citizen, age 57, but I have lived on boats, mainly in the Caribbean, since 1986. As I have never, since that date, spent more than 90 days per year in the UK I have not submitted a UK tax return since 1986. I have, however, paid voluntary national insurance contributions in order to keep my state pension. HMRC advise me that I have already paid long enough to claim my full state pension when I retire so I no longer make voluntary contributions.
My income comes from my work as an itinerant photographer specialising in photographing yachts. I travel the Caribbean on my boat and photograph regattas.
I visit the UK in the summer every year to visit my ageing mother, but I do not own property or rent a home in the UK (I simply stay with my mother), nor do I have a spouse or children. I always make sure that I spend less than 90 days in total in the UK.
I sell much of my work through my website (hosted in the USA) and price my photographs in US dollars. A lot of my sales through the website are paid for through a credit card processing company called 2Checkout. As far as 2Checkout are concerned they have my UK address as my mailing address and an address in St. Vincent as my 'physical address'. Until now they have paid my proceeds directly into my US bank account in Miami. This works fine for me because most of my expenses can be paid in dollars, but unfortunately I have been notified that due to rule changes they will no longer be able to do that. Very soon they will only be able to pay into a bank account in the country where I have my physical address.
Now, my physical address is a very flexible concept. I do not have a bricks and mortar business as I operate mostly from my boat, or just with my laptop wherever I happen to be. I do not spend long in any one location. In a typical year I would spend a few weeks each in Trinidad, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, St. Martin (French), Sint Maarten (Dutch), St. Barths, Antigua, Dominican Republic, UK and perhaps Ireland, France, Germany or Italy. I do not have official residence in any of these countries, except perhaps the UK (depending how you define 'residence'). For most purposes when asked my residence I would quote the UK because that is where I was born and raised, but as noted above I am not resident for tax purposes. As far as 2Checkout is concerned I am registered as physically in St. Vincent though actually I only used that address because it happens to be on my website. That is where I first started photographing boats, but I don't go there much these days. I could open a USD account in St. Vincent and have my money sent there but the bank is useless to me because they have high fees and their internet banking is only for viewing account details, not for actually doing anything useful like transferring money so I can spend it.
I have always been open with 2Checkout about my business and circumstances and I do not think it would be a problem to change my 'physical address' as far as they are concerned, but I am trying to decide where would be the best place to change to. I don't believe there is any option that would be as good as what I am accustomed to, but I think the 'least worst' option might be to opt for the UK so that I can have the money sent to either a USD account or a Sterling account in the Isle of Man (I have had a Barclays account in the Isle of Man since 1986). My worry in doing this is whether telling 2Checkout that I am 'doing business', or 'residing' in the UK, even though I am not really, might draw attention from the HMRC or other agencies and cause me grief in the future. Do you think those worries might be justified?
Thanks for your question - I am Sam and one of the UK tax experts.
Yes - I do think your worries are justified and its imperative that you provide an address that sits with were you consider your self resident.
I should also point out that we all have to pay tax somewhere and you seem to suggest (reading between the lines) that you do not pay tax in any country, which also exposes you to a huge problem long term.
However I can advise on the UK side of matters. Usually any individual that spends less than 90 days in the UK is treated as not having a UK tax liability, however that's working on the assumption that you are paying tax elsewhere.
As this is not the case and as you are a UK citizen - HMRC would be well within their rights to insist that tax is looked at within their tax regime due to your citizenship.And that would apply whether you have the money banked in a UK bank account or anywhere else for that matter.
I cannot comment on other countries requirements as we are a UK tax forum so that's our expert country tax knowledge - but most countries also work on the 90 day rule.
If however you are paying tax in another countries tax regime, then you having monies paid into the UK will create no issue for you
Let me know if I can be of any furtehr assistance
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