The incompatibility of the 15-year-limit with interpretation of tax law, underlies the British government’s rather ambiguous position on overseas voting rights i.e. that the right to vote is not necessarily related to paying taxes in the UK (although many British citizens overseas continue to pay UK taxes e.g. on their public pensions).
Its ambiguous nature can be traced to the differing interpretations of domicile versus residency & what is meant by “severing all ties with the UK” under electoral or tax law.
Under current electoral law, a British citizen resident overseas for more than 15 years is deemed to have broken all ties with the UK and ,therefore, automatically loses the right to vote nationally.
Under tax law, and particularly with respect to Capital Gains Tax (CGT), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can have a completely different interpretation based on domicile, which is illustrated by how a British expat resident in Spain lost a £1.75 million CGT tax case.
The tribunal accepted that Ms Yates was resident in Spain for tax purposes for most of the time she was abroad (2000 – 2008). However, it also decided that she had not cut off ties with the UK and accepted HMRC’s argument that her main home was in Britain.
The question is, would the tribunal have ruled instead in favour of Lynette Yates, if her period of residence in Spain had been greater than 15 years and she had already lost the right to vote, being deemed by electoral law to have broken all ties with the UK? The answer is probably not based on the same domicile arrangements.
Such incompatibility between UK tax and electoral law can result in British citizens resident e.g. in Spain or France (both countries with bilateral tax agreements with the UK and unlimited voting rights for their expatriates), liable for taxes in both their country of residence & country of birth but with no right to vote in either.
If you agree that the 15-year-rule is an unnecessary complication of tax law and should be repealed, we’d appreciate you adding your vote in support here.
To demonstrate the strength of the British overseas voter base, we would also encourage you to register (if you are still qualified to register but have not done so) on the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk