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Transactions are nearly always fast paced; different teams of advisors running around to avoid delay and trying to keep everyone happy. Each team will have their priorities and unfortunately the paperwork can take the longest. This will result in the inevitable question – can we get the deal done and do the paperwork afterwards?
Sadly the answer is often no. The paperwork, such as government or regulatory filings, finance and security documents, and legal opinions (to name a few), need to be prepared in advance and/or submitted before or at closing. The paperwork has to happen to ensure the transaction is legal and to reduce unforeseen risk to the client. Further, if the transaction is international, parties may be required to have board resolutions and powers of attorney notarised, apostilled and legalised before transaction documents can be signed and submitted.
If certain documents are unable to be completed in advance, the obligation to provide these may become a ‘condition subsequent’. Make sure you know how long you have to complete the paperwork otherwise you may find yourself in default!
Lastly, in our experience, getting the paperwork completed gives peace of mind for the future if a transaction is ever reviewed, audited or questioned.
When buying an asset (a house, a car or an aircraft for example), it is incredibly important to know the history of the asset together with the identity of the seller. In fact, it is important to know who all the parties are in the transaction, especially where money will change hands – it just makes sense to check you are not exchanging money with a criminal!
Today’s regulatory environment means that nearly everyone needs to provide client due diligence (CDD): the client to the corporate services provider, the tax advisor to the lawyer, the buyer to the seller. Having CDD ready in anticipation of being asked will certainly help speed up any transaction. And its not just for businesses; the UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order is just one example of legislation requiring people to reveal how they have come into possession of money.
What CDD will be required: generally the minimum the client should expect to be asked to provide are certified copies of their passport and utility bill. More documents and information may be required depending on the type of transaction, corporate structure and whether or not any party is regulated (for example, tax advisors and corporate services providers are regulated and therefore the level of CDD they are required to collect is dictated by law.)
Why CDD is required: at a legal and regulatory level, most jurisdictions now require parties to a transaction to establish the legitimacy of funds used to buy expensive assets. The rules generally require the party receiving funds to establish not just where the funds are coming from (the ‘Source of Funds’) but also how the payee came into possession of the funds (the ‘Source of Wealth’). It is important for all parties to comply with international legislation in this area and increasingly proof of any payments made need to be provided.
To summarise, compliance with CDD rules is mandatory for nearly all transactions: so don’t be offended, do be prepared, and save time by having your documentation ready.
The impact of Brexit on the free circulation status of your aircraft will depend entirely on the circumstances of the aircraft and how it operates. There is almost no official guidance from either the EU or the UK government on the subject, apart from on the transitional arrangements, which has led to much debate between advisers on the options to use, including to what degree the Returned Goods Relief provisions can be used to resolve aircraft status post Brexit.
Given the high value of aircraft and the high risks involved, Martyn Fiddler Aviation have taken Counsel advice and would strongly urge you to seek tax advice from an experienced advisor specialising in aviation. Taking expert advice will help you understand your obligations and determine the necessary steps to take (if any) to meet those obligations.
For a greater understanding of the impact of Brexit on aviation please refer to our recently updated eBook ‘Business Aviation from 1 January 2021’.
Watch our Brexit webinar series here.
For guidance on How to keep your EU or UK import status post-Brexit please refer to our Returned Goods Relief “RGR” article.
A Chartered Tax Advisor is someone who is a trained and experienced member of a professional body who adheres to a code of conduct and ethics set out by the relevant institute. Advice from a Chartered Tax Advisor should be professional, impartial and is required to consider the needs of the client as first priority. The tax team at Martyn Fiddler Aviation is comprised of advisors with over 70 years of combined experience and who are all Chartered Tax Advisors – either qualified in the United Kingdom or Rep of Ireland.
If you think you would benefit from the advice of our tax team please get in touch with either Adrian, Alena or Greta.
We are all obligated to pay our taxes. As ignorance is no defence and being caught not having paid your taxes is going to be at best inconvenient and expensive and at worst will see your aircraft impounded and you potentially prosecuted, it obviously makes sense to know that you have met your obligations.
Our expert team at Martyn Fiddler Aviation are at hand to help you determine the tax status of your aircraft and to ensure that you meet all your obligations. We will be able to provide you with the correct documentation to present on a Customs ramp check. Should we find that you haven't already met your obligations when you come to us, our experts will be at hand to advise and help rectify matters, giving you peace of mind and making it much more pleasant and cheaper than getting it wrong.
If you have a situation we can help you with get in touch today by emailing email@example.com
True or false: the “declarant” for Temporary Admission (TA) can be the pilot or the company the pilot works for, so it doesn’t matter whether the aircraft passengers are EU or non-EU resident?
A common question, but this assumption is false. Article 212 (2) of the EU Delegated Regulation states that:
'Where means of transport are declared for temporary admission orally in accordance with Article 136(1) or by another act in accordance with Article 139(1), in conjunction with Article 141(1), the authorisation for temporary admission shall be granted to the person who has the physical control of the goods at the moment of the release of goods for the temporary admission procedure unless that person acts on behalf of another person. If so, the authorisation shall be granted to the latter person.'
Consequently a pilot can only be authorised for TA where they are not acting on behalf of another person. If an aircraft travels into the EU under TA with an EU passenger on board there is a significant risk that the local Customs authorities would take the view that the TA rules have been breached and seek to impound and/or impose Import VAT on the aircraft. However the pilot's place of residence may instead be relevant where there are no passengers or where the pilot is also the owner/user of the aircraft.
If you have any queries or need to seek advice regarding Temporary Admission please contact Greta on +44 7341 088 385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Temporary Admission (TA) is a very useful simplification for occasional visitors. Whilst it has 3 main elements to adhere to (as well as some additional requirements that must also be met) the rules are often interpreted differently in each EU member state.
There is a lot of apocryphal information available about how the TA rules apply so it is very important to be clear about the rules and how they apply in all situations before relying on this relief regime. The short answer is generally yes you can, but care must be taken to comply with all TA rules at all times. A key issue that frequently arises is who can be treated as the “user” for each flight. Although EU passengers can be carried as long as they are not paying for the travel and are true guests or company colleagues travelling on company business, it is very important to clarify who the key user is on every flight to ensure this does not breach TA rules.
Please do not hesitate to contact email@example.com for further details on how TA could work for your operations.
Yes! Aircraft registration is to do with the flying of the aircraft and is not related and does not impact the VAT regime.
However aircraft registration is important for the Customs regime of Temporary Admission (TA), because the aim of that particular regime is to allow visitors to arrive in a territory without having to import the aircraft. For TA it is vital that the aircraft is registered outside the Customs territory where TA is to be used.
It is important to be aware that aircraft registration does not have any relation to the aircraft’s import status in any territory, for example, just because an aircraft is registered with an aircraft registry in Europe, this does not mean that the aircraft is imported into Europe. Although it is true that some aircraft registry’s do require an aircraft to be imported before allowing the aircraft to be registered.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
While the Isle of Man aircraft register is a strictly private aircraft register (payments for flights is not permitted except for very limited exceptions), an Isle of Man corporate entity can own or lease an aircraft which is registered in another jurisdiction and operated commercially. For example, an Isle of Man company can own a UK registered aircraft which is used for commercial air transport – this flexibility can be of great value to aircraft owners and operators.
Please contact Martyn Fiddler Aviation for a discussion on aircraft registration and ownership solutions.
I understand that new guidance issued by the EU Commission clarifies in full the rules of Temporary Admission and how these apply to aircraft, is this right?
You may be referring to a guidance document issued by the Customs 2020 Project Group on 26th February this year rather than the EU Commission. Although this document provides useful examples and references on many Customs procedures, Temporary Admission is just a small section and provides very little in the way of new information to TA itself other than providing some useful clarity on what kind of aircraft repairs can be permissible under the TA rules, and when aircraft might not be seen as "means of transport" for TA purposes. The formal caveat attached to the guidance stressed that the document "does not constitute a legally binding act and is of explanatory nature..." i.e. the guidance does not supersede the existing legislation or national implementation in any way and so you should continue to review your operations under the rules in accordance with the official legislation.
If you have any queries or need to seek advice regarding Temporary Admission please contact one of our aviation Chartered Tax Advisor's here.
There is a big difference between having a rough understanding about how tax might apply and seeking an indemnified tax opinion. While it may initially appear to be clear what the tax treatment for a transaction should be, a tax advisor will be able to consider the full set of circumstances based on their in-depth knowledge of the tax systems and purposes. They will be able to advise on specifics of a transaction, noting where a transaction does not suit a "vanilla" approach or there are additional risks to take into account. In short the use of an experienced tax advisor will greatly de-risk the potential tax cost to any transaction and with the average VAT rate in the EU currently in excess of 20%, set against the average value of an aircraft transaction, securing the services of a qualified tax advisor should be an obvious requirement for any aircraft transaction team.
Our tax experts at Martyn Fiddler Aviation are frequently the first port of call for experienced aviation professionals, chosen for their in-depth, specialist knowledge and ability to find the find the best solution for every scenario.
If you have any questions, please contact either Adrian Parcell-Jones, Alena Nikolayeniaor or Greta Kemper who will be happy to assist you.
I am a financier and we may need to repossess an aircraft for which we provided finance, do we need to worry about the VAT situation of the aircraft if we do this?
I am a financier and we may need to repossess an aircraft for which we provided finance, do we need to worry about the VAT situation of the aircraft if we do this? It will remain in the same ownership company so that means the VAT status will stay the same, doesn't it?
The VAT status of the aircraft will depend on how the aircraft is (and was) owned, operated and imported in the UK/EU. If any of these factors change subsequently then the import status of the aircraft may change also, in other words the VAT status may be lost and VAT may become due on the aircraft. If the ultimate beneficial ownership, or chain of ownership, of the aircraft owning company is changing this may still cause a tax liability. We would always advise caution in cases such as this and recommend that you do have the situation checked out by a tax professional. Please don't take a risk or take advice from someone who is not a professionally qualified tax advisor to give tax advice.
If you feel you need to seek professional tax advise, Martyn Fiddler Aviations has three inhouse Chartered Tax Advisors who all specialise in aviation and are well equiped to deal with your aircraft matters. Please don't hesitate to contact Adrian, Alena or Greta today.
Yes. From our experience lack of knowledgeable business aviation counsel is the primary reason for cost increase and delays in aircraft transactions. Whether your aircraft is big or small, having someone who can lead the transaction and ask the right questions is key to a smooth purchase/sale and will also help identify matters which could cause problems early on – dealing with matters such as registration, tax, structuring and finance at the outset will set a clear roadmap with realistic timetables. Just ask us if you would like us to introduce you to counsel we consider as specialists in the industry; we have contacts in jurisdictions internationally and only recommend firms we have worked with ourselves.
Contact Heather today at email@example.com or call +44 1624 777 618
No, but yes! It has long been the case that aircraft owners would dare not make any significant title or status changes until the ink was dry on a sales contract. Now we are passed the transition phase of the EU's new customs code, it is imperative that any export is dealt with at the time an aircraft physically departs the EU, exports are now near impossible to do retrospectively. It really is best practice to make the formal export as the aircraft departs the EU, should any sale not come forward or fall through, the aircraft can easily be re-imported without any VAT or Duty costs to its previous exporter of record (owner or operator). Whilst not mandatory to make an export declaration, it is increasingly common that a formal export is part of any sales / purchase contract. Additionally, an export may be required to discharge any VAT liability or in the least, bring comfort to the selling party that all EU ties (financial and tax) have been severed.
A commonly asked question we hear is: "Do you only deal with Isle of Man registered aircraft?" The answer to this is a resounding "NO".
We do not only provide solutions through the Isle of Man. Our clients and their aircraft come from many jurisdictions and the country an aircraft is registered in does not automatically have a link to its tax status. Yes, we certainly work with "M" registered aircraft, but we also work with many other registrations including "G" and "N". Some aircraft are operated on AOCs, some are private, and some are corporate aircraft. The services and offerings that we have in our Tax, Customs and Ownership divisions are vast and diverse and cover several EU jurisdictions.
If you would like to know more about our services and how Martyn Fiddler Aviation can assist you, please get in touch with Martin Kennaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 1624 777 600
This will depend on:
- whether or not you have to charge VAT to your buyer;
- where the buyer's business is incorporated;
- whether or not your buyer is registered for EU VAT;
- and where the aircraft is physically located at the time of the sale.
There are ways to retain the EU free circulation which of course can be a huge benefit to your buyer. Speak to Martyn Fiddler Aviation who can advise on the options and offer solutions.
Contact Angie Deady-Fiddler at email@example.com or call +44 1279 810020
Possibly. This will depend on a number of considerations:
- Who is the seller party;
- Where will the aircraft be physically located at the time of purchase;
- What was the VAT treatment at the time of the EU import
There will be other questions to consider however with careful planning and by taking the correct advice it might be possible to retain the EU free circulation status. Martyn Fiddler Aviation can advise on this and any other questions you may have.
Get in touch with Angie, our EU Import & Export expert today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 1279 810020
The very simple answer is that the way the aircraft is operated/owned or the type of passengers on board may affect the VAT treatment of the aircraft in Europe. With potential tax penalties being so high its best to talk to a Tax Advisor not just an advisor who has an opinion on tax!
Speak to our tax expert Adrian Jones at email@example.com or call +44 1279 810027
I operate a non-EU aircraft, not imported, and am bringing it to a UK MRO for maintenance; do I have to declare to Customs on arrival?
Yes! All goods have to be declared to customs when crossing a border. Aircraft are no different to any other goods that might arrive as freight and have to be cleared at the border before being released onward for delivery. The customs regime the goods are declared to will depend on why the goods are entering a jurisdiction.
When arriving for maintenance aircraft should be declared to IP (Inward Processing) which suspends taxes and duty providing the aircraft is correctly declared for export when leaving the EU.
Speak to Martyn Fiddler Aviation – we hold AEO Authorisation for Special Procedures and can assist clients to make the correct declarations to customs when arriving for maintenance, and when departing on completion, ensuring the tax liability is mitigated.
Temporary Admission (TA) for the use of aircraft sits with the user, technically the 'holder' of the authorisation, and is made for each individual trip into the EU. The specific nature of your flight sectors will impact how you use TA, contact the Martyn Fiddler Aviation team to discuss your needs and how we can support your operations and keep you in compliance of EU regulations.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Phill Rawlins on +44 7766 399 499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Most definitely fiction! The Isle of Man is a self-governing jurisdiction that is part of the British Crown that enjoys separate autonomy and is known for its well-established finance and offshore sector. The Island is home to 86,000 residents and boasts the oldest continuous parliament in the world that has no debt to service. The Manx parliament is only allowed to pass fully funded budgets from taxation and its own reserves. The Government in turn provides a fully funded European style health care system, an excellent education system, a welfare system to support those that can't support themselves and provides all of the other functions that are expected from highly regulated international jurisdictions'. It pays the UK Government to provide defence (which it does well) and foreign affairs. To deliver all of these functions the Government clearly has to raise taxes to fund the provision of these services and so it has a very simple and transparent tax regime; residents pay income tax at 10-20%, it charges VAT on the goods and services, it charges Corporation Tax on some, but not all, commercial undertakings (specifically banking, large retailers and property development are taxed other commercial undertakings enjoy a rate of 0%), it charges duty on the usual range of goods like petroleum and alcohol. The Island does not impose capital gains tax, wealth tax, stamp duty or inheritance tax.