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New HMRC guidance as IRS updates FFI accord

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On 24 June 2014, the IRS published an update to the Foreign Financial Institutions (FFI) Agreement, under which financial institutions report information to the US authorities in place of a withholding tax. The changes amend the version of the agreement published in January to make it consistent with the package of temporary regulations released on 20 February.

HMRC has published guidance on its website explaining that HMRC will apply FATCA obligations from 1 July where UK financial institutions are required to obtain self-certification for a new customer. However, the UK will not adopt the US announcement on 6 May of relaxed on-boarding processes for new entity accounts opened between 1 July and 31 December 2014.

Following discussions with the Crown dependencies and Gibraltar, an amendment will be made to make sure that there will be no obligation to report on the controlling persons of a non-financial foreign entity that meets certain conditions to be a not for profit organisation. This amendment will allow UK financial institutions to treat non-financial not for profit organisations under the International Tax Compliance (Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar) Regulations, SI 2014/520, in the same way that they are treated under The International Tax Compliance (United States of America) Regulations, SI 2014/1506.

HMRC will also update the US guidance notes in August to clarify when a trust will qualify as a financial institution as a result of the professional management of the trust’s assets by another financial institution and when the assets under management are considered to be the assets of the trust.

HMRC has issued revised guidance for UK financial institutions on their obligations under the Crown dependencies and Gibraltar regulations (SI 2014/520). The notes replace the draft version published in February 2014. The guidance now reflects the agreed change in treatment of charitable non-financial foreign entities, removing the obligation to report their controlling persons. A new section on tax residence has been added, to reflect the fact that, from 30 June 2014, financial institutions will need many account holders to self-certify their tax residence.