x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Don't overstay your welcome in the UK, or taxman cometh

Have a problem? Been treated unfairly? Our consumer advocate is on the case for you.

For tax purposes, we are only allowed back into the UK for 90 days. I presume this is 90 days within a tax year, April to March. Am I right? Also, if you go for more than 90 days in a year when your earnings are particularly low, how do they view that? I haven't worked (properly) since February, so my earnings have been minimal. Would I be penalised in any way for overstaying my 90 days? LW Dubai

To retain non-resident status for tax purposes, you may spend no more than 91 days a year in the UK, per tax year - April 6 to April 5 - including days of entry and exit. Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) states: "If you leave the UK to work abroad full-time, you will become not resident and not ordinarily resident in the UK if your absence and employment from the UK covers a complete tax year ... and you spend less than 183 days in the UK during the tax year, and your visits to the UK do not average 91 days or more a tax year over a maximum of four years." But even if you become resident in the eyes of HMRC, you will only be taxed on personal income in excess of £6,475 (about Dh38,000) for the current tax year.

If you are recruited locally, does the company have to pay your repatriation costs when you leave? When I was recruited I did discuss this with the HR person and was told I would be repatriated, but she has since left and I do not see it anywhere in my contract. I am not on a fixed-term contract and have been with my current company for four and a half years. LR Dubai The UAE labour law states that an employer is responsible for the repatriation of an employee to the place where he or she was recruited, or to any other place agreed upon by both parties. If you were employed locally, there is no obligation for the employer to pay for repatriation. The only exception to this would be if there was a specific clause in your contract of employment that stated you would be repatriated somewhere else.

My question is about what happens to my bank accounts if something happens to my husband. We have managed to put aside a fair bit of money over the last couple of years, spread across a couple of different accounts in local banks. All our accounts are held in both our names. Is it true that, if my husband dies while we live here, I will not be able to access our funds under Sharia law? TS Sharjah

This is not an urban myth. In the event of death while resident in the UAE, all assets held in the country are subject to Sharia law. This means that any bank account with your husband's name on it, either single or jointly held, will be frozen until the courts decide how the assets should be distributed. My advice is to ensure that you have either an account in your sole possession or money offshore that you can access in this situation.

Can you tell me how to recharge an Etisalat Wasel (prepaid) account abroad with a scratch card pin code? The number given on the Etisalat website, +9714004120, doesn't work at all - and neither does Etisalat's online help system. CC Abu Dhabi I contacted Etisalat's PR department and they have advised as follows: "To recharge the prepaid calling card while travelling outside the UAE, a customer can do one of the following:

* Dial star-120-star, followed by the send key * Recharge online by logging onto the Etisalat website, http://etisalat.ae/online * Use Mobile Pay service. Customers can register their credit cards with Etisalat and pay their bills or recharge their Wasel cards directly through their mobiles by dialling star-123-pound * Use auto-pay service. After registering their credit card, customers can set their Wasel to recharge automatically on a monthly or weekly basis

* Use online banking services through a participating bank such as Mashreq or Citibank I recently had to take time off work because of an operation. The company I work for is now claiming that they have overpaid me as labour law states that I am allowed 30 days of full pay, 15 days of half pay and then a further 30 days with no pay, and the job must remain open for me. I stayed within these limits, but the company is now telling me that the weekends count as working days. Is this correct?

LW Dubai My interpretation of the labour law is that they are correct. Many companies in the UAE use calendar days and not working days to calculate salary, much the same as they do when you receive your end-of-service benefits, so it could be argued that this is in your favour - assuming you are paid a monthly salary and not paid by the day. From what I have been reading, it seems that the UK government is to look into more closely monitoring UK citizens with offshore bank accounts. I am currently resident in the UAE and have no intention of ever living in the UK again, so is there any way that I can keep my money safe from the British taxman?

LR Ajman The UK government and HMRC are only concerned about full-time UK residents with offshore bank accounts, and there are no intentions for legitimate non-residents to be taxed on these accounts, either on the capital or the interest earned. HMRC has said that it will contact all the banks and building societies requesting the names and addresses of all their UK resident customers, as UK taxpayers are liable for tax on interest. If you are not resident, but your account is still registered at a UK address, I recommend that you get your records updated to show your UAE address, so as to avoid any complications with HMRC.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae