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Will Coronavirus be treated as an "exceptional circumstance" in the Statutory Residence Test (SRT)?

I am a foreign national visiting the UK, and due to the recent travel restrictions after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have been forced to stay in the UK much longer than anticipated. Will I still be able to maintain my UK non-resident tax status, due to these circumstances being out of my control?

Will Coronavirus be treated as an "exceptional circumstance" in the Statutory Residence Test (SRT)?

HMRC have clearly outlined that the Coronavirus pandemic will be looked at as an “exceptional circumstance” within the Statutory Residence Test and that considerations for events out of that person’s control will not affect their tax residence status. They have acknowledged that every person will have been affected differently but they will consider all related cases as “exceptional circumstances” under their Statutory Residence Test, however each case will still need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Despite travel issues not usually being regarded as exceptional, clarification of the exceptions from HMRC have been listed below. However, something to be taken in to consideration is that the clarified guidance only applies to you if you are unable to leave the UK as a result of the closure of international borders, and that the United Kingdom has not closed its borders as of yet.

New clarification on “exceptional circumstances” from HMRC

The clarified circumstances from HMRC are as follows, if:

  • You are quarantined or advised by a health professional or public health guidance to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus
  • You find yourself advised by official Government advice not to travel from the UK as a result of the virus
  • You are unable to leave the UK as a result of the closure of international borders, or are asked by your employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus

If you are unsure if the above apply to your individual situation, it is always advised that you seek advice from an expert. Despite the above clarification from HMRC being provided very recently, it is still likely that more information will be added and/or updated within the coming days and weeks.

Correctly determining your tax residence status is essential and will help ensure you pay the correct amount of tax in the UK. If you, like many others during this unforeseen disruption, are unsure of your UK tax residence status or would like some assistance understanding the Statutory Residence Test during this time, and how it applies to you, request a free introduction to one of our tax specialists.

Last updated: 31 March 2020 at 18:27