Without doubt, Malta continues to be a popular tourist destination. However, its remarkable resilience and growing economy, despite an uncertain financial climate over recent years, has increased its popularity among high net worth individuals.

In addition to the potential tax planning benefits available to those who establish or relocate their business there, Malta offers a good quality of life, excellent healthcare and great education opportunities for children; all amid an economically and politically stable jurisdiction.

Furthermore, many have also come to acknowledge the property investment opportunities.

Malta’s property market has become ever more attractive to those interested in property investment. But why is this?

Maltese property has been appreciating at well above the EU average for a number of years, resulting in rising property prices, a strong rental market and a continued demand for property.

The purchase process in Malta is easy and painless and with modern computerised Land Registry records, title disputes and post-purchase planning problems are much rarer than many other southern European locations.

A Maltese property structure can also be subject to attractive tax arrangements. Malta has no real estate taxes such as council tax or rates, nor does it have any wealth taxes. Having no succession taxes is an attractive benefit for HNWIs who are planning to leave their wealth to their families when they die.

It does have an acquisition tax, albeit just 5% on the higher of the market value of the immovable property or the purchase price; however, for a high value property this can still be significant relative to the cost of acquiring and holding the property via a trust. The use of a trust can also offer other non-tax advantages, i.e. for succession planning, as the property does not form part of an individual’s personal estate.

Malta tax is only payable on the final sale of a property. As above there is an acquisition tax but there is a Capital Gains Tax exemption worthy of note, which is available on the sale of a main residence.

For rental properties (residential or commercial), Malta also offers an optional special 15% tax rate for rental income.

Malta’s property market has not suffered the instability other European markets have; as such its stability together with its low interest rates has made for a cost-effective way for investors to acquire a high value portfolio.

So, whilst investing in Maltese property may make good business sense, it also offers an array of benefits on a lifestyle level. With an average of more than 8 hours of sunshine a day, crystal blue waters and a typical Mediterranean climate, Malta is a safe and resilient jurisdiction. It is home to a stable political environment and a growing economy, and is a regional hub and centre of excellence across many business sectors; it is one of Europe’s leading financial centres.

Its’ business-friendly and economically stable environment remains focussed on doing business and with close proximity to nearby markets in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, it offers foreign investors a number of opportunities and benefits.

To this end, not only does it make great financial sense as an investment opportunity – it’s an opportunity for applicants and their families to enjoy a home from home in a safe and stable jurisdiction difficult to beat by many others.


Over the last 35 years, we have implemented a variety of property solutions, every one different in its complexity but each designed to meet the individual objectives and requirements of the client. 

During this time we have developed a wealth of experience and understanding in the acquisitions, maintenance, redevelopment and sale of a broad range of property types worldwide, including: serviced apartments, hotels, office buildings, student accommodation, offices, care homes and residential developments. 

Working closely with specialist property investment and management companies, professional advisors and a client’s chosen representatives, we look to identify and maximise property development opportunities and to provide our clients with a tailored solution complemented by a range of support services, to ensure that each client’s structure is effective and runs efficiently.

For more information on structuring property ownership in Malta or to discuss your requirements in more detail, contact +356 2099 1531 or email info@sentientinternational.com.

We all have our own plans and intentions for the properties we purchase. However, be it for personal or business purposes, there are a variety of options available when it comes to how we own such assets.

Placing your property investment(s) into a suitable ownership structure can offer a number of benefits such as asset protection, effective tax planning (including inheritance tax), incapacity protection, enhanced confidentiality, wealth preservation and the ability to hold greater control of the asset.

Before deciding on how to structure ownership, there are a number of things you need to do – you should weigh up the pros and cons of the options available, seek the appropriate professional advice and engage a professional service provider to assist you in establishing the structure chosen.

What do I need to consider?

The type of ownership structure used will vary considerably depending on the type of property and the intended use (i.e. a family home, holiday let, second home, holiday home, buy to let portfolio, rental property or commercial property).

It is vital that the chosen structure is fit for purpose and aligns with your long-term strategy. So, prior to selecting a structure you should consider:

• Will anyone reside in the property?
• How long will you own the property?
• How important is asset protection?
• What do you wish to happen with the asset upon your death?

Ways to Structure Ownership

There are a number of ways in which you can structure ownership of a property. We have highlighted some of the more common methods and why you might wish to use them.

Individual Ownership/Proprietorship – This is a common approach where a single person wholly owns the asset outright in their own name. It can be beneficial in terms of eligibility for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemptions or discounts however, it doesn’t offer protection should you be personally sued or determined bankrupt.

Joint Ownership – When an asset is jointly owned by two individuals and one of them dies, the share is immediately passed to the surviving owner who will have immediate use of the asset. Joint ownership provides certainty and assurance that the asset will be automatically passed to the surviving owner, generally without delay.

Tenancy in Common (TIC) Ownership – This is where two or more persons hold the title to a property jointly or in varying percentages of ownership. Each ‘owner’ may have the right to a distinct proportion of the asset, which will be set out and determined. On the death of an owner, their share does not automatically pass on to the other owner(s), it passes to their beneficiaries in accordance with their will or intestacy. However, it may be that in their will, the living owner has the right to occupy and have access to the property in its entirety until such a time that they die or sell the property.

Company Ownership – A corporate structure can be the most appropriate vehicle if you are considering buying an investment property. The company becomes the ‘legal owner’ of the property opposed to the individual (albeit they may be the shareholder).

Trust Ownership (Discretionary/Family Trust) – A property can be settled into a trust, where it will be held and managed in accordance with the trust deed for the benefit of its beneficiaries. The trust deed sets out the obligations of the trustee(s) and determines what happens to the property upon a person’s death.

Many use trusts to hold property for the purpose of effective inheritance tax planning, particularly if it is an investment property, if the intended owner is under 18 years of age, or if the trust will provide for a disabled dependant in the future.

Partnership Ownership – A property partnership is a way of holding and managing an investment property effectively where at least two people will carry out business with a view to making profit.

There may be an appointed ‘sponsor’ or ‘managing member’ who serves as the ‘General Partner’ to enable investors to take a back seat. The terms of the partnership will be set out in the partnership agreement but a property held in a partnership may only be distributed to partners after all liabilities, taxes and debts are fulfilled.

Let’s talk structures?

Are looking to invest in property but unsure how to structure ownership? Do you have an existing property investment for which you wish to re-evaluate the current ownership structure?

Our team can work with you and your advisors to develop and establish a bespoke solution tailored to your individual needs and objectives, ensuring that it is fit for purpose and yields success.

Contact us on +44 1624 616544 or email info@sentientinternational.com to find out more.

Malta was voted off the Financial Action Task Force (‘FATF’) grey list, one year after first being labelled an untrustworthy financial jurisdiction by the global watchdog. 

The FATF vote is secret and a formal announcement of that decision will only be made at the end of its plenary, on Friday afternoon.  

However, Times of Malta has confirmed that Malta’s financial regime was given the all-clear in a high-level plenary vote at around 5pm in Berlin yesterday (Wednesday 15th June 2022). 

Being placed on the grey list meant that Malta was put under increased scrutiny by international assessors and bodies. 

The decision to take Malta off the list comes four months after the FATF publicly announced that initial indications showed that Malta had substantially completed the necessary reforms and appeared to have addressed the shortcomings identified. 

Malta had been told to implement a long list of changes to the way it combats tax evasion, collects information on ultimate beneficial ownership, and the way it shares information with local and international authorities.

Those issues were at the heart of a FATF action plan which Malta had to implement before being given a clean bill of health by the global anti-money laundering body. 

When was Malta greylisted?

Members of the global anti-money laundering watchdog first added Malta to its grey list in June 2021 after deciding the country was not doing enough to combat financial crime. 

At the time, Prime Minister Robert Abela said he thought the decision was “unjust” and promised to push ahead with planned reforms aimed at tackling financial wrongdoing.

The greylisting decision came following years of international criticism of Maltese policymaking, including its decision to sell Maltese citizenship and the lack of legal action against top government officials suspected of corruption.

Since then, the government has been scrambling to address technical shortcomings flagged by the FATF.

Full article: Malta removed from FATF grey list (timesofmalta.com)

Although it can be a somewhat overwhelming and uncomfortable conversation to have, it is important to consider what happens to your property when you die.

Planning for this asset and for the people who potentially live in it, rely on it or are expecting to inherit it, is crucial; providing protection for the asset whilst you are alive as well as its safe distribution to any intended beneficiaries thereafter.

A trust can be an effective solution for owning and managing your asset(s), in this case a property. However, if this is something you are considering, you should know a few fundamental things.

What is a Trust?

A Trust may be established during a Settlor’s lifetime, or upon death under the terms of a will.

Stated simply, it is an arrangement by which the owner of an asset, known as the Settlor, passes legal ownership of assets to Trustees. The Trustees administer the assets subject to the defined terms of the Trust Deed and in accordance with the governing law.

Types of Trusts

A Discretionary Trust is an arrangement whereby the Trustees have the power to effectively choose and decide, at their discretion, how and when the assets get used and who they get distributed to.

A Revocable Trust can be changed or terminated by you as the Settlor during your lifetime and can serve to benefit you while you are alive. A revocable trust typically becomes irrevocable upon the trustor’s death.

An Irrevocable Trust cannot be changed once it has been established as ownership of any assets lies with the Trust and not with you as the Settlor.

A Living Trust can determine how your assets can be used to your benefit during your lifetime. As the Settlor, it is possible for you to be a Trustee of your trust and you can name a co-trustee i.e. a spouse, relative or professional advisor, who can continue to manage your Trust’s assets when you are no longer able.

Uses

Trusts can be used in a number of ways and are often established for a number of reasons:

• Asset Protection – The ability to protect the personal assets of the Settlor from the claims of future creditors to the extent permitted by law.
• Enhanced confidentiality – Assets are held in the name of the Trustee(s), resulting in the name and identity of the Beneficiaries being kept confidential for the term of the deed.
• Tax planning – A trust may be used to mitigate tax liabilities. In certain jurisdictions, assets owned are considered to be outside the estate of the Settlor on death.
• Estate/succession planning – A tool enabling a provision to be made for family members, relatives or friends, to allow flexibility in situations where domestic inheritance rules may be otherwise imposed.
• Protection of those unable to look after themselves.

Pros and Cons

There are a number of benefits to placing your property in a trust, however there are also a number of factors that require careful consideration.

Pros

Protection – Trusts are typically used by individuals to protect any property they own. More often than not, a property is a person’s biggest asset, so it is only natural to want to protect and safeguard it from any potential tax liabilities or unforeseen costs i.e. care home fees. A trust can also protect your property, should any of your beneficiaries get divorced or become bankrupt during your lifetime.

That said, it should be noted that in order to do so effectively, timing is of the essence and is important in preventing any accusations of deliberate deprivation of your assets.

Avoid Probate – Probate can be expensive, takes time and is public. Many use trusts to own property to avoid probate. A trust can afford the ability to transfer the title to your property to your beneficiaries efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, if you are looking to transfer properties outside of your resident jurisdictions, it can help avoid probate in those jurisdictions also.

Prevent sideways disinheritance – Whilst you might own your property jointly with a spouse, you may still wish for your children/grandchildren to inherit that property when you die.

However, sideways disinheritance, albeit often accidental, can result in the disinheriting of intended beneficiaries. As an example, if you were to pass away before your spouse, your surviving spouse may go on to remarry or may even fall out with your intended beneficiaries (children/grandchildren). Consequently, the new husband or wife can end up inheriting the property, rather than your intended beneficiaries.

A trust can ensure that your chosen beneficiaries inherit your property, irrespective, providing peace of mind that your wishes will be fulfilled, regardless of what happens after you die.

Incapacity protection – Nothing in the world is as certain as death, but you cannot predict the circumstances which lead up to your passing. Should you become ill or unable to manage your own finances effectively; a trust can offer protection over your property as well as its ongoing management until your time of death.

Potential tax savings – Creating a trust without a good estate plan is likely to provide you with little or no tax benefits. However, obtaining the appropriate professional advice might save some estate taxes, if your trust structure has been developed and established according to the same.

Cons

Tax liabilities – Setting up a trust without the appropriate professional tax advice is like running into a burning building. In fact, doing so can result in adverse tax implications for you and/or future beneficiaries, such as large unexpected Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Income Tax or Stamp Duty Land Tax bills.

Deliberate deprivation of assets – Many believe that by simply placing their property in a trust they can avoid things like care home fees or inheritance tax as the property is no longer legally theirs and subsequently their capital decreases. Whilst you may do this with all good intentions, to pass on your property (and any related proceeds) to your intended beneficiaries, it may be perceived as a deliberate deprivation of assets by your local authorities.

Should this happen, your property will be included as part of your capital and furthermore, you will have wasted the time and money involved in establishing and running an unsuccessful trust structure.

Another thing to consider is the seven-year rule, whereby you will likely need to survive for seven years after gifting your property to a trust (or another person) for it to no longer count as part of your taxable estate.

Administration/Accurate Record Keeping – In order for a trust structure to be effective, there is a significant amount of administration required as well as accurate ongoing record keeping. You will need to ensure that ownership of your property is legally transferred to your trust and that the title of your property is updated to reflect such changes.

This will undoubtedly cost money, require paperwork and be time consuming. However, whilst most of us dislike such paperwork and its administration, it will be worth much more than the time and money you could lose in probate and the associated impact it can have on your family trying to access your assets following your passing.

Words of warning

The advantages of putting your property into a trust far outweigh the disadvantages but creating a trust should not be looked on as a simple solution.

There is so much more to it than just evaluating the pros and the cons; it is vital that you obtain the appropriate professional legal/tax advice and engage a professional service provider to implement a structure that meets your objectives, is fit for purpose and will yield your desired results.

How can we help?

At Sentient International, we have been providing a comprehensive range of fiduciary services, including acting as Trustees, for over 35 years.

Our professional trustees understand the importance of upholding our clients’ wishes. As such, we consider it integral to develop a relationship with each client and to work closely with their advisors, to ensure that any structure we establish properly reflects the client’s intentions and meets their objectives.

Our independence as a service provider means that we are able to offer our clients flexibility as well as quick decision-making. This, complemented by our knowledge and experience means we are able to deliver effective solutions, managed with the highest level of integrity, whilst ensuring all decisions made remain in the best interest of the client and their beneficiaries.

To find out more about placing your property in a trust or if you would like to discuss your trust requirements, please get in touch via telephone on +44 1624 616544 or by emailing info@sentientinternational.com.

Are you interested in attending some of the top international real estate events?

Our slideshow highlights 16 luxury real estate expos, conference and summits that are taking place around the globe during the remainder of 2022 and early 2023.

Head of Marketing | New Business, Lesley-Anne Walker talks of the importance of ring-fencing your high value assets; not just to protect your asset but also yourself.


Ok, so I am referring to a different type of ring than that sung about by Beyoncé, I am talking about a ring of the fence variety and when it comes to your most valued luxury assets, not having a ring-fence around them could result in undesired consequences.

Over the last decade, the perception of luxury assets as simply sources of pleasure for high net worth individuals has changed. Whilst traditionally a purchase of passion, they have now become recognised as an effective asset class for individuals looking to expand their investment portfolios; and some have even been seen to outperform your typical portfolios consisting of stocks and shares.

Now whether your luxury asset of choice is Real Estate, a Superyacht, a Business Jet, Supercar or a piece of Fine Art, all of these assets continue to have at least one thing in common – they are significant investments made up of time and money.

Consequently, it is advised that such assets be placed in appropriate ownership structures, normally in the form of a corporate entity or trust, instead of being simply held in an individual’s personal name.

So why is this?

Holding an asset within a corporate entity can offer a number of benefits, from confidentiality to asset protection, to the limitation of liabilities. However, it can also be effective for succession planning, in dealing with forced heirship issues and in some cases, it can provide tax and VAT benefits.

It is worth noting that different classes of luxury assets have different wider financial and liability implications, depending on their intended use, the type of ownership structure they are held in and when it comes to tax, the residence and domicile of the owner.

So what should you consider if looking to structure for a luxury asset? What type of entity should you use?

The answers to both questions are dependent upon the asset type in question, how and where it is going to be used and by who.

There are two vital stages to the effective structuring of a luxury asset. The first is to obtain appropriate professional advice to ensure that you don’t expose either yourself or your asset to any liability issues or implications.

Second, is the appointment of a respectable corporate service provider (‘CSP’) who can assist you with the establishment of your desired structure according to the professional advice you have been given.

Engaging a good CSP will ensure that any structure is set up correctly and efficiently, that any necessary statutory and administration requirements are met, and that effective ongoing management is in place to ensure that the structure remains fit for purpose and yields the desired results.

Not implementing these two crucial stages could have serious implications for you and any structure you put in place.


For more information on establishing effective structures for your luxury assets or to discuss your requirements in more detail, contact +44 1624 616544 or email info@sentientinternational.com.

📷 Image: Vevo

Are you looking to set up a company but unsure which jurisdiction will best suit your requirements?

With over 35 years’ experience in the industry, we understand the importance of choosing the right entity in the most appropriate jurisdiction.

Our company comparison provides a comprehensive overview of nine popular jurisdictions but if you are still unsure, get in touch. We will work with you to find the most effective jurisdiction in which to establish a suitable structure that is fit for purpose and yields results.

For businesses that are relocating to the Isle of Man, there are many things to consider when it comes to tax status.

The Isle of Man is an independent jurisdiction with its own legislation and a favourable tax regime, which is completely separate to its UK counterpart. This makes the Island a competitive offshore jurisdiction for many looking to do businesses as it affords both corporates and individuals the benefits of independence when it comes to direct taxation matters and getting the most out of your business.

When is a company considered to be tax resident?

A company is considered tax resident in the Isle of Man through a combination of factors including its place of incorporation and its central place of management and control, as set out in Section 2N of the Income Tax Act 1970.

Where a company is incorporated outside of the Isle of Man, it will still be considered tax resident if it is centrally managed and controlled on the Island, and its day-to-day operation and administration takes place in the Isle of Man.

Transfer of domicile

If a company is incorporated outside of the Isle of Man but is to redomicile to the Isle of Man, the company will be deemed tax resident by reason of incorporation (the date of transfer of domicile) and added to the Isle of Man register of companies.

Similarly, where a company is considering transferring its domicile to another jurisdiction, it will cease to be tax resident on the date that the redomiciliation takes place.

How does a company register as a tax resident?

Companies considered tax resident in the Isle of Man are required to register with the Assessor. In doing so, the company will have to provide sufficient evidence to the Assessor, that the day-to-day operations of the company is managed and controlled in the Isle of Man.

Following an application for tax residency, the Assessor may issue a Certificate of Tax Residence (provided in paper format) which effectively states that the company is tax resident in the Isle of Man and therefore has the applicable responsibilities and liabilities to fulfil thereafter.

Preparing an Isle of Man Income Tax Return

All companies in the Isle of Man are required to complete and submit an income tax return whether they are liable for tax rates of 0%, 10% or 20%.

A company’s taxable period will be based on its accounting period, which for tax filing purposes is every 12 months.

An Income Tax Return will be issued to each Isle of Man tax resident company at the end of the its accounting period. The Company must then complete said income tax return and file it online with the Isle of Man Income Tax Division prior to the due date. Fixed rate penalties of £250 and or default assessments will be issued should any company fail to comply and/or fail to submit their return by the due date, with a second penalty chargeable should the return still be outstanding after a six-month period from the due date.

In addition, an Economic Substance section has to be completed by companies resident in the Isle of Man.

Corporate Tax Rates

0% – Standard rate for all resident and non-resident companies
10% – Banking Business Income
20% – Land and property income from Isle of Man sources
10% – Retail Businesses (with profits exceeding £500,000 per annum)

What are the Economic Substance requirements in the Isle of Man?

Economic Substance regulations are applicable to the Isle of Man and a number of other offshore jurisdictions who have committed to incorporating the respective economic substance requirements to entities that do business in their jurisdiction.

The substance legislation is applicable to Isle of Man entities that derive their income from the following relevant sectors/activities:

– Operation of a Holding Company
– Financing and Leasing
– Shipping
– Insurance
– Banking
– IP Company (Intellectual Property)
– High Risk IP Company
– Fund Management
– Headquartering
– Distributions and Service Centres

For more information on Economic Substance, check out our article ‘The Elephant in the Room – Economic Substance

The Benefits of Being a Tax Resident Business in the Isle of Man

– 0% Corporate Tax
– No Inheritance Tax
– No Capital Gains Tax
– A simple taxation regime
– No insurance premium tax
– A stable legal and political environment
– A European time zone
– A robust regulatory system
– A high quality international reputation

Additionally, the Isle of Man is also on the OECD ‘white list’ of jurisdictions and in the top tier of countries that comply with the global standard for tax cooperation, transparency and exchange of information.

For more information on how to set up a company in the Isle of Man or if you would like to know more about becoming a tax resident or your Isle of Man tax obligations, please contact iom@sentientinternational.com or call +44 1624 616544.

What is Corporate Governance?

Corporate Governance is the pinnacle of any good business. It is a framework that covers both the social and institutional aspects of a business, defining and regulating the relationships between company shareholders, the Board of Directors, management and all key stakeholders.
The way in which the objectives of a business are set out and achieved, is primarily influenced by corporate governance, i.e. How is risk monitored? How will internal performance be optimised?

It acts as a system of principles, policies, procedures, responsibilities and accountabilities that are used and implemented by individuals within the business.
It’s important to remember that corporate governance exists for a reason. It is there as a set of guiding principles to assist organisations in achieving their long-term goals.


The Pillars of Good Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance is a key factor in the underpinning of the integrity and efficiency of a company and the way in which it operates on a daily basis. The four main pillars of good corporate governance create a foundation and comprise:

Accountability
Accountability embraces ownership of strategies required to attain goals and is a key element to a strong organisation. Good Corporate governance requires accountability to be both understood, acknowledged and implemented.

Transparency
Transparency is a critical component or in simpler terms shows that there is ‘nothing to hide’. Transparency can lead to better-informed decisions when it comes to the company’s activities and builds a good reputation.

Integrity
Integrity is the way in which someone behaves in accordance with their own ‘moral compass’, a system of internal and external values. In a regulated environment, loss of integrity can have consequences for individuals and/or the organisation as a whole.

Risk Management
Does your business have an appetite to discuss risk, the potential impacts and how it is reviewed and managed over the year? Effectively, managing risk is fundamental to mitigate potential risks out of your business.


The Benefits of Good Corporate Governance

When an organisation has a good corporate governance framework in place it can provide many direct benefits for both individuals and the company through risk management and streamlined and consistent processes. These benefits comprise:

– Efficient processes
– Visibility of errors
– Reduced operational costs
– Smoother operation
– Assured compliance
– Creates a culture of excellence
– Creates a good reputation
– Creates clarity
– Creates financial sustainability


Why is Corporate Governance Important?

Good corporate governance is a key factor in cultivating a company culture of integrity, essentially leading to a positive, sustainable and financially viable business.

Guidelines exist and are put in place by organisations to increase the accountability of individuals within the business and to mitigate mistakes before they occur.

Having strong policies and practices within a company shows that it is well-managed and that the interests of the management are in the right place. In turn, this leads to good practices and ethical decisions being made, ultimately providing the business with a strong competitive advantage as it can effectively demonstrate this to provide stakeholders as well as existing and prospective clients with confidence that the business offers the highest level of customer care and ensures that the services they provide are delivered professionally, reliably and with complete integrity.

Corporate Governance is a system of rules, processes and practices, through which a company is directed and controlled and determines how the company aligns the interest of all its stakeholders.

To have good corporate governance is important, which is why many experts break it down into four simple words, also known as The Four Ps.

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