Expat Life: Expat Decisions

By | June 23, 2014

Hoping others in the forums have some suggestions.

I have been an expat for more than 20 years… Been a blast… In my own way. However, I’m now considering my options…

to buy a place for my mom to reside for the remaining years of her life (likely 10+ as she’s already hit her 80’s). She’s confessed to me that she’s fed up moving, and feels that her current tenancy arrangements don’t provide much security (my words, not hers). So, I’m thinking of offering to buy her a small place she can call her own.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s not. It can’t be in her name. I don’t want to give her the money to do it, worried that it’ll get swallowed up by her spending, or taxed as gift taxes, or some such ‘issue’. Also, the house can’t be in her name, if it’s my money. On her death, the house would be sold and the money would be divided with other siblings. No way to avoid that under Scots Law.

So the house has to be in the name of either myself/the spouse or a separate company. Legally, this should not be difficult. On her passing (since we don’t live forever, I have to consider this), we’d probably keep the place and rent it for a while afterwards. Property like that should be highly rentable as it is in a very good location in Edinburgh.

But I was wondering (after all, forewarned is fore-armed… or is that four-armed? )

1. if I buy a house, and remain an expat… what would the implications be for obligations, such as taxes? I believe there might be some withholding taxes on any rental income…
2. If I buy the house, and decide to return to the UK… how would I re-establish my residence in the UK?
3. If I buy the house, and and decide to be a dual resident… could I take advantage of the tax treaties between the two countries?

The last is quite interesting… because I’d be able to take advantage of the best of Britain (before it disintegrates(?)), such as bank accounts, opportunties to make money, etc while living in Taiwan. I wouldn’t mind paying additional taxes in the UK… and if we do decide to go to the UK, then everything would be arranged for #2 previously.

Has anyone else ever owned property in the UK, rented it out (or let it to family), and lived in Taiwan? How did you do it? What problems did you face? Did you do this before you were an expat?