Many disenfranchised UK expatriates living abroad have long been denied their right to vote in UK elections. This looks set to change with a new bill voted in the House of Lords in March 2022 after a long battle by campaigners. However British expatriates in Asia should be aware that registering to vote could confirm UK domicile status.
100-year-old wins fight to regain UK voting rights
A centenarian Briton living in Italy has finally won a lengthy battle to win back his right to vote in UK elections.
100-year-old Harry Schindler challenged the 15-year limit on voting rights in 2016. He sought to change current laws which state that British nationals living outside the UK for more than 15 years lose their right to vote. Many of these individuals do not have a vote in their adoptive country either, which effectively leaves them without a voice.
While Schindler’s initial Supreme Court challenge was rejected, his tenacity seems to finally have paid off.
House of Lords votes bill to re-establish UK vote for expatriates living abroad
A bill passed by the House of Lords on 31st March 2022 marks a critical turning point in overturning the 15-year rule and re-establishing democratic voting rights for Brits living abroad.
The bill has yet to be ratified but is expected to become law when it is put to a vote in the House of Commons before the end of the current parliamentary session.
The disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of British residents in EU countries was widely criticised at the time of the Brexit vote. British expats who had been living outside the UK for over 15 years were excluded from voting and lamented their lack of a say in a decision which would have a significant impact on their lives.
British expatriates in Asia and voting rights
Britons around the world have largely welcomed the news that they will be able to vote in UK general elections in the future. For some, this will be the first time in decades that they can influence policy.
However, long-term expatriates living in Asia should be aware that registering to vote in the future could bring tax implications relating to domicile status.
Being on the electoral register would more than likely constitute a tie to the UK and could be used as evidence of domicile status after your death. Individuals who are UK domiciled are subject to UK inheritance tax on worldwide assets. Wealthier expatriates may find this makes a major difference to their tax liability in the UK and the amount they can pass on to loved ones.
The good news is that exercising your right to vote doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a hefty IHT liability. There are ways to minimise exposure to UK taxes and we highly recommend that you take professional advice on this matter.
Here at Infinity, we advise British expatriates on heirship laws and can help you manage your estate to maximise the assets you pass to your nearest and dearest and minimise the amount that goes to the taxman.
Contact us if you’d like to discuss your IHT liability, or any other estate planning issues, with one of our experienced financial advisers.
A leading provider of expat financial services and wealth management services across Asia.