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Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Old Jan 22nd 2020, 10:40 am
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Default Returning home after it not working out - tax question

I took a job in Abu Dhabi in late May 2019 paying about 14000dh a month – I knew this was low by ex-pat standards, but……. I had hit a crossroads in life, 30 something and sick of living in remote and rural Scotland and was offered a chance out here. I have 12yrs experience in agricultural planning and a masters degree in crop security. I had hoped that it might lead to better roles and, at least on paper, the money was about 40% better than what this type of role pays in Scotland.

When I got here - life wasn’t quite what I expected. I was living in Madinat Zayed and 14000dh didn’t quite stretch as far as I thought and rarely a western ex-patriate in sight. No real social life, no real fun, constant boredom - I've grown to hate it here.

Break down of my expenses:

Per Month (approximately)

Money to service commitments in UK – 3500 reducing to 2500 with time
1 bed furnished apartment – 3800
Car – 1380
Fuel - 500
Food – 1100-1500
Misc costs – 1500 (phones, general bills, misc things, etc)
Social costs – 1500 (hotel and 1 weekend per month in Abu Dhabi/Dubai)

It left me with near enough nothing, I’ve saved about £1500 since being here. So, I have hit breaking point, feeling down and missing the bleakness of Sutherland. I've given it 9 months and I want to return home.

My question is tax on return to the UK – what portion will I be eligible to pay? Is it true I will be eligible for full taxation until April 2021, even if I wait here until April 2020?

If I have to pay full tax on returning to the UK, I will have ended up worse off coming here, but looking at the guidance - I think I will have to but want some free advice.

Thank you.
John.
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Old Jan 22nd 2020, 12:19 pm
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

The last two replies are well against forum rules, BE NEVER suggests anyone to break any laws.
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Old Jan 22nd 2020, 12:46 pm
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

A lot of young singles spend a year or so backpacking around the world funding themselves by working in bars etc. without declaring to HMRC. where is the line ?
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Old Jan 22nd 2020, 5:50 pm
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

From what you've posted, repatriating to the UK before 6th April 2021 would leave you UK Resident throughout and liable to UK Income Tax on your worldwide earnings, as though you'd never left the UK. The two fastest routes for you to become UK non-resident is to meet either Automatic Overseas Test 1 or 3, but both require you to be overeas for a full tax year (See HMRC RDR3 for the rules).

Having said all that, there are some things that you could do to minimise your tax bill if you return to the UK before the end of the tax year. You still have your Personal Allowance, which is tax free. Personal Pension contributions would also attract full tax relief, but that would tie up your savings until you are age 55 (which might change).

Have you looked for opportunities in either Qatar or Saudi? Both have rapidly expanding agricultural sectors and face huge challenges owing to the harsh environment.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 1:03 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

I can't comment on the tax implications but I do know Madinat Zayed very well. 14,000 AED/month there would be very difficult and I understand your situation. If you have only saved 1,500 GBP in total over a 9 month period - no, it is not worth it. Coming in from Sutherland, you have just traded in one rural, remote region for another.

Some Westerners who work there, actually live in the northern Abu Dhabi suburbs like Mohamed Bin Zayed City or even Musaffah and drive in every day. I would imagine in Madinat Zayed itself, the limited Western expat scene would probably be centred around the pool at the Tilal Liwa.

I would also add you might want to consider increasing the frequency of your Abu Dhabi "city breaks," it is only a 90 minute drive, you can easily day trip it. I never liked driving the E-11 on a Thursday night but Friday morning is a nice quiet time. Do your shopping at Lulu's in Al Wahda Mall, have lunch somewhere, go watch Flamingoes in the mangroves, have dinner at Lebanese Flower and then go home.

If you are struggling this badly after 9 months, with only the 1,500 GBP in savings, then I think putting in another 15 months to get to April 2021 is going to be a monumental challenge and not worth it to your mental well being. That also makes me think you are on a 2 year contract. Read your contract very carefully as many of those have early termination penalties which you would need to factor in, in addition to your tax bill. The early termination penalties however are often on a sliding scale and sometimes can be negotiated down or waived by the company. They are more likely to be sympathetic if you are going back to the UK with no plans to return, than if you are going to a new company in the region.

Good luck.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 5:02 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Thank you for the responses. I have been told to go backpacking by a few people, and I get what you mean. Does anyone have experience of backpacking and what the risk of ending up in a back packing horror story (I'm non resident in UK). If you get what I mean?

I could probably live here longer term, but I would be needing at least double the salary and to be living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi - I cannot see anywhere offering double the salary in the UAE. I am not sure I could do Saudi Arabia, although they may pay a bit more.

However agriculture, like back home, just doesn't pay well. I'm the 3rd son of a farming family and I definitely do it for love rather than money. I came over here hoping to see some opportunity as I was at a cross roads in my life - The challenge I thought this was going to be, isn't what I expected. Improving food yields and soil fertility of desert farming has its challenges but, it really is the easy part - attitudes, local government, politics and inefficient management are the main hurdles and hurdles they expect solutions for, without giving any authority or apparatus to actually find solutions. The lack of money is one thing, but beyond that, the feeling that you are pissing into the wind is what makes it unrewarding.

Last edited by JohnRFulton; Jan 23rd 2020 at 5:05 am.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 5:13 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

By backpacking, do you mean in the UAE? That is not done there, and there is no culture of it. The sorts of places that would offer accommodation at backpackers' rates in the UAE I would treat like they are radioactive. Gulf tourism is not set up for backpackers and is discreetly discouraged by the deliberate lack of infrastructure for it. The Pakistani truck stops throughout the UAE will offer meals at backpackers' rates but just take one step in and look at the hygiene conditions.

If you were looking for backpacking in Arab lands, Tunisia-Algeria-Morocco, then crossing the strait into Spain and perhaps going overland back to Scotland would work, as would some combination of Sudan-Egypt-Israel-Jordan (you would need to visit Sudan before Israel), and then fly back to the UK. Though I've heard there is now a ferry available from Israel to Greece so you could do that and then make your way across Continental Europe back to the UK.

For a different type of experience beyond agriculture you could try teaching English in Asia (you don't need to be a qualified teacher). That would put you for a year or two in a place like Korea, Japan or Thailand. You could also try for parts of Latin America or Africa.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 5:17 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Originally Posted by JohnRFulton View Post
Thank you for the responses. I have been told to go backpacking by a few people, and I get what you mean. Does anyone have experience of backpacking and what the risk of ending up in a back packing horror story (I'm non resident in UK). If you get what I mean?
Tens of thousands of Brits if not more go back packing each year (including single females) and only very small number get into trouble, so I'm sure a big stocky farmer would be fine. I've undertaken many solo trips around Asia as a back packer and as long as you a sensible (ish) you'll be fine.

Also, you could check out positions in your 'field' elsewhere.... how about looking into some of the big fruit companies? They all have farms all across the world. Farming in Oz? Hydroponics is growing for veg production in Asia etc etc.

Originally Posted by JohnRFulton View Post
attitudes, local government, politics and inefficient management are the main hurdles and hurdles they expect solutions for, without giving any authority or apparatus to actually find solutions. The lack of money is one thing, but beyond that, the feeling that you are pissing into the wind is what makes it unrewarding.
Welcome to the Middle East. This describes most industries. Why do you think there are so many expat alcoholics?
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 6:04 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

I think I may of misinterpreted what backpacking has meant.

I was thinking it was more cryptic.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 6:15 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Originally Posted by jam25mack View Post
Tens of thousands of Brits if not more go back packing each year (including single females) and only very small number get into trouble, so I'm sure a big stocky farmer would be fine. I've undertaken many solo trips around Asia as a back packer and as long as you a sensible (ish) you'll be fine.

Also, you could check out positions in your 'field' elsewhere.... how about looking into some of the big fruit companies? They all have farms all across the world. Farming in Oz? Hydroponics is growing for veg production in Asia etc etc.



Welcome to the Middle East. This describes most industries. Why do you think there are so many expat alcoholics?
Yes, it is actually mental. Politics in rural areas can be difficult as rural communities generally can be a bit cynical towards change from the tried and tested. However, over here, well wow!

I have the impression that at local government level, they think that by hiring westerners it will somehow be a magic solution that they will reap the benefits of. There is a lack of understanding that without being given responsibility or authority to implement things, then I am completely impotent to affect any change.

I can write countless reports telling them what they should be doing, but whilst they look good and they seem to enjoy showing this knowledge off, it doesn't get implemented. I genuinely feel like I am a bit of bling to be shown off by those that employ me in a "look at us, we employ a western consultant" kinda way, rather than somebody that has been brought in to actually achieve something.

Last edited by JohnRFulton; Jan 23rd 2020 at 6:18 am.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 6:17 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Originally Posted by jam25mack View Post

Also, you could check out positions in your 'field' elsewhere.... Farming in Oz?

If the OP wants to consider Australia there are four types of Agricultural job categories on the Skilled Occupation List, 3 of which are eligible for the 189 independent skilled work visa which provides immediate permanent residency and the ability to work anywhere in the country, at any job in any field.

Unfortunately he's over the age eligibility for the work/holiday 417 visa (backpacker's visa), the upper age limit is 30 unless the applicant holds a passport from Canada, ROI or France, then the upper age limit is 35. The age limit from those countries has been increased due to a reciprocal arrangement that allows Australian citizens to obtain a similar visa for those countries with an upper age limit of 35. Apparently the Oz government is negotiating with a number of other countries to come to a similar arrangement.

OP, if you're interested in Australia this is the Skilled Occupation List. https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visa...ccupation-list
There are links to each job's position description, and also a link to the relevant organisation which assesses if the intending applicant has the required skills and experience. There are other criterion which need to be met in order to obtain sufficient 'Points' to apply - age, level of education etc. If you're interested you can ask any questions on the Immigration, Visas and Citizenship Australia sub forum here https://britishexpats.com/forum/immi...-australia-32/

Whatever you decide to do I wish you a very happy and successful future

Last edited by spouse of scouse; Jan 23rd 2020 at 6:23 am.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 7:05 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Originally Posted by JohnRFulton View Post
I genuinely feel like I am a bit of bling to be shown off by those that employ me in a "look at us, we employ a western consultant" kinda way, rather than somebody that has been brought in to actually achieve something.
you have described about 90pct western expats in government jobs. The only issue in your case was that the salary was too low.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 10:34 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Originally Posted by JohnRFulton View Post

However agriculture, like back home, just doesn't pay well. I'm the 3rd son of a farming family and I definitely do it for love rather than money. I came over here hoping to see some opportunity as I was at a cross roads in my life - The challenge I thought this was going to be, isn't what I expected. Improving food yields and soil fertility of desert farming has its challenges but, it really is the easy part - attitudes, local government, politics and inefficient management are the main hurdles and hurdles they expect solutions for, without giving any authority or apparatus to actually find solutions. The lack of money is one thing, but beyond that, the feeling that you are pissing into the wind is what makes it unrewarding.
Most of my career was spent in irrigation and rural development always with agriculturists who get paid well, £250/day plus per diem being the typical minimum rate. But not in the GCC. Africa and Asia on development bank funded projects being the normal route of employment for international jobs in agriculture. There is always demand for experts in the sticks. Have you tried looking for jobs in the development market. eg , developmentaid ?
https://www.developmentaid.org
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 11:42 am
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

Even if you do go backpacking, you need to keep an close eye on your UK residency status. Ideally you want to qualify for split-year treatment for the current tax year 2019/20, however, to have even a chance of achieving this you need to be confirmed non-resident next tax year 2020/21. UK ties, and in partuicular days spent in the UK, are critical, per the following flowchart. See also RDR3 for the split-year criteria.

It would be well worthwhile seeking professional advice from a tax specialist, your circumstances are not straightforward.
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Old Jan 23rd 2020, 12:26 pm
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Default Re: Returning home after it not working out - tax question

I don’t think wandering around the world backpacking until April 2021 is a pragmatic way of saving some £3500 in a potential tax liability. Taking an NGO post which provides a basis for a future career as an international agricultural expert might solve the tax liability problem and provide a path to a lucrative future career.

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