The Panama Papers: Explained

It’s being described as the biggest leak of data in history, bigger than both Wikileaks in 2010 and Edward Snowden’s big leak in 2013, so what’s the biggie with the so called Panama Papers?


What’s the difference between a Dom and Non-Dom?

Domicile and Non-domicile is a matter of status. You have a domicile status in a place where you permanently live and/or have originated from, you have a non-domicile status in a place where you might be currently living but wouldn’t consider your permanent home or origination.

I want a status, where do I get one?

You tend to be born with one. Where you are born however, does not necessarily determine your domicile status. You tend to inherit your status from your father (and sometimes your grandfather).

E.g. you might be born in the UK but your father spent most of his life in Spain and would consider Spain his permanent home. You are therefore granted a non-dom status even if you continue to live in the UK.

You do also have a domicile choice…if you have a domicile status in the UK and decide to emigrate to another country you can actively change your status. If you decide that France is the place for you and decide to live there indefinitely, should you return to the UK you will now have acquired a non-dom status.

What’s all the fuss?

If you have a non-dom status you don’t have to pay UK tax on foreign income until you’ve been living in the UK for seven years.

FOREIGN INCOME IS? Money made abroad. You might live in the UK but your business might reside in another country, or you could be making money off of the property you own abroad, or you might have relatives abroad giving you money.

With your non-dom status you don’t have to pay UK tax on this foreign income for seven years as long as it is under £2,000 or not transferred to the UK.

After seven years, then what?

You pay a fee to keep your non-dom status. This is also known as a remittance and costs £30,000 per year if you’ve been resident of the UK for at least seven of the previous 9 tax years (this rises to £50,000 once you’ve been here 12 of the previous 14 years).


Wealthy individuals from all over the world have been coming to live in the UK and using their non-dom status to avoid paying a lot of tax. Similarly, several UK citizens through domicile choice have been able to acquire a non-dom status and benefit from the same scheme.


Players: Enticing these wealthy individuals to live in our country brings us investment and money from the UK taxes that they have to pay.
Haters: Our country is out of pocket 100’s of millions of £ worth because of it.

If you hadn’t guessed already, the Tories are the players and Labour are the haters…

Ed Miliband announced that if he gets voted in the GE15, he’d like to scrap the non-dom status once and for all. Cameron says, you won’t need to, these wealthy individuals won’t stick around long enough to see you scrap it.

Who knows…and yet we’re meant to decide.