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Tax and NIC When Moving abroad

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 1 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
European Citizens Working In Uk

Q. I am a Swiss citizen who lived and worked in the UK for a few months. I am going to go back to Switzerland in a few weeks and wondered if you could tell me what I have to do exactly before I leave. Tax, National Insurance?

(Miss Sabine Mettler, 15 September 2008)


On most tax and social security issues, Switzerland is now treated much as if it was a member of the European Union. In order to provide a definitive answer to your question, however, a bit more information would be necessary. For whom were you working in Britain? Were you seconded by your Swiss employer to a branch in Britain or were you working for a local firm? Were you paid in Britain, or was your salary paid into your bank account in Switzerland? Did you pay taxes on the money you earned in Britain, for example through the British PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system?

Assuming the most obvious case, that you worked for a British employer, had a national insurance number and had taxes deducted automatically from your earnings through the PAYE system, the answer would normally depend on the length of time for which you were resident in Britain.

Unless you were in Britain for more than 183 days, you would normally be considered non-resident for tax purposes. There are some other more exotic criteria which can affect your non-residency status, such as your future intentions about where you will live in future, whether you still have residual ties to the UK through owning property here, for example, as well as your past history of living and working abroad.

Assuming that your case is as simple as your question suggests, however, none of that should matter. This means that your tax affairs are primarily between you and your own government. The only question that arises in this circumstance is what happens to any taxes you may have paid in Britain while you were here. Britain and Switzerland have a double taxation agreement so you shouldn’t have to worry about being taxed twice on the same income.

If you paid taxes on your UK income while here, you should be able to reclaim them by filling out a P85s form. You can download this from the HM Revenue and Customs website. The answers on this form help clarify your status to the British government, and provide enough information for them to authorise a tax refund for you. You can tell them how you want the money to be paid to you, either by post or into your bank account.

Social security contributions are normally paid in the country you are working in at the time, so there is nothing special to be done there.

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