Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Interview with Oliver Heslop, UK Tax Specialist

Oliver Heslop is a highly experienced UK tax specialist dealing with expatriate cross border issues and is the official Expat Focus UK Taxation partner. In this interview we learn more about Oliver's background and experience and the services he can offer to British expats abroad and foreign nationals in the UK.

Expat Focus: Oliver, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to join Shipleys?

Oliver Heslop
Oliver Heslop

Oliver Heslop: I did my tax training with Andersens and spent my time mostly in expatriate tax work. I once had a 6 month secondment at Rolls-Royce in Derby looking after their international expatriate program. There were challenges in Jordan and Iran, believe me! Andersens also assigned me to Poland in 2002 and I learned my pidgin Polish by watching Eastenders with Polish subtitles.

After Andersens broke up, most of my career has been with Deloitte tax, but I have had a spell with Ernst & Young in Reading. At E&Y, my clients were very wide ranging - IT workers from India, UK aerospace engineers seconded all over the world, and board directors in media and telecoms. We managed secondments to every continent except Antarctica.

Expat Focus: What services does Shipleys offer and what is your own role?

Oliver Heslop: I am the lead partner in expatriate tax at Shipleys LLP based in London and other centres. Our firm has 21 partners and more than 150 employees. Shipleys are part of AGN International, an association of over 90 firms. This week, I have been working with AGN colleagues in the US, Hungary, Japan and Norway. We are growing the expatriate practice by supporting large multinationals, but also British nationals throughout the globe and foreign nationals all over the UK.

Shipleys LLP offer all of the traditional accounting services - Audit, Insolvency, Corporate and Personal Tax. However our business culture is not like others. Our approach is very personal. We strive to achieve an in-depth knowledge of the opportunities and problems faced by our clients, to understand the personalities, to identify the real needs. The most striking feature about Shipleys is the level of specialism. We have a private client practice that manages many household names, numerous experts in the film industry, and a large trusts team not available at any other accounting firm I know.

Expat Focus: What UK taxation issues do your expat clients typically encounter?

Oliver Heslop: We can always provide the standard services : tax returns, expatriate payrolls, certificates of coverage, tax equalisation calculations and tax planning for foreign nationals.

These are the typical areas that arise when we meet new clients. Ordinarily, I am approached by UK nationals working overseas, or about to leave to work abroad. They will ask about how to stop paying UK income tax if possible, and how their National Insurance will work. These clients often have a UK rental property, perhaps some stock options, and a personal or company pension. We can cover all of these matters.

The other typical client profile is a foreign national who has come to work in the UK for perhaps 6 months, 2 years or even 5 years. They have issues which affect every UK resident, but we also consider the special tax reliefs which may apply, the impact of being non-domiciled in the UK, when the UK can tax their overseas income and how PAYE and National Insurance works...

Read the rest of the interview at http://www.expatfocus.com/oliver-heslop-230710

Heading home for the holidays

by Russell Ward

It's fast approaching that time of year when expats begin making preparations for the annual pilgrimage home to see loved ones over the Christmas period. The time for buying airline tickets is well overdue and latecomers will be contemplating extraordinarily high prices when purchasing tickets home, if at all available.

This expat attempts the journey home as often as is possible and, more often than not, during the December/January period. Past experience has shown that flights at this time of year are exorbitantly priced, yet I am often advised that, should I book a ticket outside of this peak period, the prices should halve in value. However, this generally isn’t the case. Aside from the fact that holidaying from November to February simply isn’t feasible, your favourite airlines appear to have wised up to the fact that annual travellers look to these 'shoulder peak' times for regular or reduced fares. They, accordingly, refuse to reduce the ticket price. This peak period of the year has therefore grown from a two-week timeslot to almost four months in duration.

Expats also encounter problems with ticket availability for the Christmas period. Flights are often unavailable unless booked almost twelve months prior to the proposed visit, which proves to be impractical to schedule and financially impossible at that time. Thus faced with spending a small fortune on two return tickets to the UK, often months before departure, it begs the question as to whether it’s actually possible to fly home at Christmas without breaking the bank?

One possible solution is to redeem those hard-earned frequent flyer points to gain a free trip back to dear old blighty. In theory, this should solve all problems but the reality can be quite different. Not only are a very limited number of frequent flyer-related seats made available on the airlines but, over Christmas, flights generally require an inflated number of points, in addition to the payment of increased taxes on top. Furthermore, a Qantas representative recently informed me that, to guarantee travel with a frequent flyer seat at Christmas, I should be redeeming points precisely 365 days in advance of my preferred travel date, which is when these flights are made available.

A further option would be to purchase tickets with one of the less respectable airlines, which could result in a cheaper airfare. However, this will also likely result in at least three-four stops on your journey home, reduced leg room, unusual eating options, and a safety track record of some concern.

Booking via the UK offices of airlines is something to consider, given the currently much reduced airfares in those recession-hit countries. Yet this approach is generally frowned upon by the airlines and often not possible as a result. Adopting some kind of flexibility with travel dates and times is probably your best option and travel on Christmas Day itself, whilst completely impractical, will often yield the best results.

Ultimately, national airlines could start offering those expats who regularly travel home a place to sign up and receive discounted travel to their country of origin at the peak times of year. Given the likelihood that this will never eventuate, travelling home at Christmas will remain financially painful yet unavoidably necessary.

Read more from Russell at www.insearchofalifelessordinary.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

UK Expatriate Taxation Partner, Oliver Heslop - Ready to Help!

Expat Focus is delighted to introduce Oliver Heslop of Shipleys LLP as our new UK taxation partner providing advice on all aspects of UK expatriate tax matters for both individuals and companies.

Oliver worked in Arthur Andersen’s expat teams for over 10 years before taking an expatriate advisory position with Ernst & Young in 2007. He joined Shipleys as a principal in 2010. He is a highly experienced UK tax specialist dealing with cross border issues arising from the movement of people between different countries and businesses.

To contact Oliver without obligation please use the enquiry form at http://www.expatfocus.com/expat-uk-tax-advice

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vuvuzelas here to stay as French pension reform causes strikes

by Expat Focus columnist, Sharon Revol

As an English girl in France, I always remark and admire the ability of the French to stand up and defend themselves. There’s no cowering in the corner with them, no polite mumblings of discontentment. Only the roar of their anger can be heard in the way of manifestations and strikes, regardless of who tries to stand in their way.

Take for example the recently proposed reform of the pension age in France which will see retirement moved from 60 to 62 years. France boasts one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe, and yet, people don’t know how lucky they are (or am I just being British about this?)

Within days of the proposal, all the large trade unions and workers had activated their resources in order to organize a massive nationwide protest against the reform which took place on June 24th. There was no stopping them! Maximum disruption to all public services and workplaces is required in order for the full effect to be felt.

In comparison to the UK the French seem to have the right idea though. Whilst my compatriots back home politely digested the bad news of the budget and seemed to calmly accept that they wouldn’t be able to retire until age 66 from 2016, the French were rioting in the streets standing up for their rights. A couple of headline articles were seen in the UK along with some negative comments made by the Trade Unions, but no mass demonstration of discontentment took place, as in France. My compatriots stood back in a gentlemanly manner and gracefully accepted the information that was given to them whilst ranting in private. As my French friends would say: “So British!”

Read more at http://www.expatfocus.com/sharon-revol

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Villa to swap in Central Portugal for similar priced UK property

"Modern spacious (268 m²) 3-bed/four bathrooms villa with outstanding views situated on the outskirts of the town of Lousa, which is 25 mins from the university city of Coimbra, and midway between the airports of Porto and Lisbon . It is within walking distance to the town centre which contains all the usual amenities of a small town, banks, churches, schools, restaurants, swimming pools, cinema, cafes, bars, shops and supermarkets, we are within 40 mins drive to the coast, with nice promenade walks, clean sands and two hours from a ski resort in the Serra da Estrela mountains.

Looking to swap for a similar priced property, or cash either way, preferably in Lincolnshire or East Anglia but will consider anywhere in the UK. Ill health forces my return to the UK and due to the present economic climate, the possibility of selling my villa in the short term is unlikely."

Read more

Friday, July 09, 2010

Expat Experiences: Canada - Lyn Worrell

Who are you?

Lyn and Richard Worrell

My name is Lyn Worrell. My husband Richard had been married before when I met him in Saudi Arabia and we got married in Jeddah at the British Consulate. I "inherited" 2 daughters and now have 5 wonderful grandchildren, ages ranging from 9 years to 18 months.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to Canada in August 2004 and came with my husband as part of the "truck driver invasion" into Saskatchewan to improve the immigration figures. My husband was recruited by Siemens Transportation in Saskatoon and was sponsored through them with a temporary work permit to work in Saskatoon. We both decided that life in the UK did not hold much excitement for us and felt Canada would provide a better lifestyle for us. We got our Permanent Resident status in November 2006 and the paperwork for our Canadian Citizenship was submitted in July last year and should be completed sometime in 2011.

What challenges did you face during the move?

One of the biggest challenges, was trying to decide which of our belongings to take with us and what to put in storage. We decided to rent out our house in the UK until we had been given Permanent Resident status in Canada. I felt there was just that 1% chance of being turned down and hence we would need somewhere to stay in the UK if we got "kicked" out!

Read more at http://www.expatfocus.com/expatriate-canada-experiences-lyn-worrell

Expat Experiences: Costa Rica - Andy and Fran Browne

Who are you?
Andy and Fran Browne

Hello, we are Andy and Fran Browne, two hard working yet forcibly retired gringos now living in Playa Hermosa Guanacaste Costa Rica.

Fran and I grew up in South Florida, attending many of the same schools and lived only blocks apart, but somehow we never met. One day while at party at a friend's house, we finally did meet. At the time, Fran was dating a friend of mine but it seemed that things between us just clicked. Within three weeks we were sharing an apartment and just 6 months later we wound up married.

What can I say... it was the 70's and we all did impulsive things. So here it is, 38 years later, we're still married, unemployed and loving life in Costa Rica. To our credit, we raised two wonderful sons, one of which is married and has graced us with two very energetic grandchildren and our second son remains single, but is trying to settle down.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

In August 2008, within the short span of just one month, Fran lost her job as a Marketing Executive with a large printing company in Charlotte North Carolina and I lost my job as an I/T Vice President with Wachovia Bank. For years we joked about moving to Costa Rica following a vacation there in 1999. However, months before everything came crashing down, we had a feeling something bad was going to happen regarding our employment situation. So we immediately began looking at what our post employment plan B was going to be. Heck, we were only 58 years old at least 7 year before any sort of planned retirement. But our backs were up against the wall. Failure to plan now would put us at the mercy of our employers and that was not a very comforting feeling.

The first thing we did was to contact our Financial Advisor. We needed to know the value of our ever declining retirement "war chest." The second thing was to create a very detailed accounting of all our expenses including our debt pay down. It was at that time we realized that our current funds would only last us for maybe seven more years... just in time for Social Security. But the down side to that is we would have spent through all our cash reserves and living on the government dole. That was unacceptable to us.

We began looking for alternative places to live. Having traveled quite a bit to Europe, we thought about moving to the Tuscany region of Italy. We loved it there. But truth be told... our war chest would be depleted in only about three years...

Read more at http://www.expatfocus.com/expatriate-costa-rica-experiences-andy-fran-browne

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Expat Focus Recommended Website Award: Cyprus Living

Cyprus Living


A Paphos based information site for people living or holidaying in Cyprus, or for people considering relocating or retiring to Cyprus.