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Inheritance tax living in Catalonia, Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Inheritance Tax, inheritance tax Spain, Spain
This article is published on: 26th January 2022

26.01.22

With all that has been happening the last couple of years with Brexit and the Covid 19 pandemic, it could well have slipped by many people that significant changes have been made to the inheritance tax laws in Catalonia. This will particularly affect those who are resident here and receiving an inheritance from someone who is a non-resident of Catalonia.

Prior to 2020, spouses and descendants received large allowances in respect of tax due to be paid, starting from 99%. However, for those receiving inheritance as a descendant this has been reduced, at the worst to only a 60% reduction. This raises two main questions. Firstly, how much tax will you have to pay if you receive an inheritance, and secondly, is there an alternative way to receive this inheritance, for example as a gift rather than an inheritance, which has a different rate of tax?

It is important to understand how an inheritance is taxed in Catalonia. Major factors are the relationship between the deceased and the inheritor, what asset is being received and where the money comes from, i.e. which country. In the UK it is fairly straightforward: if someone dies as a resident in the UK and leaves you assets up to £325,000 there is usually no inheritance tax (paid by the estate) to pay due to the nil-rate band. However, anything over this amount is usually is taxed at 40%. However, in Catalonia it is not that simple (surprise surprise, I hear you say!) and alongside what is declared and what you may have to pay tax on in the UK, you must also declare and pay the relevant tax in Catalonia. Any assets you already own can also be taken into the equation of what tax is payable.

Inheritance tax in Catalonia is paid by the receiver, not the estate, and very importantly, you have 6 months to declare this inheritance. Even if you haven’t yet received the inheritance (this is from the date of decease), you must declare it within 6 months or else you will be fined the following way on the amount of tax you are liable to pay:

  • 5% in the following 3 months (i.e. months 6-9 since death)
  • 10% from 3 months to 6 months
  • 15% from 6 months to 12 months
  • 20% plus interests after 12 months

However, if you know that you need more time you can ask for an extension of an additional 6 months. This must be requested in the first 5 months following the death. In this case, the surcharges described in the above table will not be applicable and you will have an extra period of 6 months.

Inheritance tax in Catalonia

There are some discounts on inheritance tax in Catalonia. To start with, there is usually no tax to pay on the first €100,000 received if you are a spouse or child of the deceased. For other descendants, the allowance is €50,000. If you are an ascendant the allowance is €30,000 and for any other relation the reduction is €8,000.

From this point on, there are further reductions between 97-99% and other factors are to be taken into account, such as if the children are under 21, disabled, or if you receive the main home (“vivienda habitual”), family business or shares in certain types of companies.

As you can see, the calculation is not straightforward. I feel the quickest and simplest way to give you an idea of what tax you would pay is if I give examples using the most typical scenario of people we help. This scenario is of a parent resident in the UK leaving their child, who lives in Catalonia, an amount of money/assets not including property (as we said there would potentially be extra tax deductions for receiving this). The guidelines are shown below for someone tax resident in Catalonia, over 21 years old, owning assets themselves of less than €500,000. Note that the ‘domestic trousseau’ has also been included (the domestic trousseau is a tax on inherited household items, for example furniture, by default calculated as 3% the estate value):

Amount to be inherited Tax due in Catalonia
€100,000 €84
€250,000 €6,969
€500,000 €29,888
€750,000 €64, 908
€1,000,000 €109,297

One possibility we investigate for our clients is whether it would it be better to plan the future inheritance and anticipate it, receiving the monies through a donation that is taxed between 5% and 9% between parents and their children (with some specific requirements). Additionally, please note that if a previous donation has been made, this must also be considered in order to calculate the effective inheritance tax rate. We always suggest getting in touch to confirm exactly what the amount would be, and for help declaring it. For the assets themselves, it is worth noting that whilst living in Catalonia it is not always efficient to have many overseas assets.

For example, investments or ISAs in the UK are declarable and tax is payable in Spain on any gain annually EVEN if you do not withdraw any of the money, unlike in the UK. It is possible to hold these monies in a Spanish tax-efficient structure, such as a Spanish Compliant Investment Bond, remaining in sterling as opposed to Euros if you prefer. In this way, you can benefit from the money growing through compounding with potential to greatly mitigate tax. This is where we can add value to help our clients effectively organise their assets, and we can manage the assets if need be.

If you have any questions relating to this article or would like help planning for this eventuality, or anything similar, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Your Financial Health Check 2022

By Chris Burke - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, Spain
This article is published on: 5th January 2022

05.01.22

New Year Financial Planning Resolutions

First of all, a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Kings Day to all of my clients and readers! Here we are about to start another year; how fast the time passes! Although we have various challenges and uncertainties on our plate currently, the latest COVID-19 variation Omicron and the ongoing Brexit transition to name a couple, I am feeling optimistic about the year ahead.

This time of year is commonly thought of as the natural time to plan ahead. Writing our New Year’s Resolutions allows us to put down in writing what we would like to accomplish over the forthcoming 12 months, and hold ourselves accountable to this. There is a four-benefit cycle of writing New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Motivation Increases – we will feel motivated and determined from the moment that we set our goals so that we…
  2. Take Control – we internalise that there is nothing stopping us from achieving our goals and that we have the power to ‘make it happen’. Resulting in a…
  3. Sense of Achievement – as we take control and achieve our goals, we will start to feel a sense of achievement, motivating us further…
  4. Self-Esteem/Confidence – as we crush our goals, we will see our self-esteem and confidence skyrocket!
New Year Financial Planning Resolutions - Health Check

But Chris, I hear you say, I don’t know what to include in my New Year’s Resolutions! There are lots of options, whether this is improving your fitness, learning a new skill or improving your financial situation. I specialise in financial advice, so I believe that I can add the most value assisting you with the latter!

A recent Royal London study (Royal London customer research: Feeling the benefit of financial advice, 2020) found that those who take financial advice are on average £47,000 better off over 10 years than those who do not. Furthermore, the study also highlighted that having a financial adviser not only has financial benefits. It suggested that the average person that receives regular financial advice feels more confident and in control, along with experiencing a heightened sense of ‘peace of mind’.

I am an advocate of the Five Key Financial Planning Principles, also known as the PIPSI. These principles are listed in order of importance, starting with ‘Protection’. If you do not have adequate cover in place, then should something happen, the rest of your plans will not happen, so it is generally agreed that protection is the most important.

P – Protection
I – Income Protection
P – Pension
S – Savings
I – Investment

Protection – do you have adequate life and critical illness cover? Are you paying a fair price for it? Do you have a will to protect your family? Is it up to date?
Income Protection – if something happened resulting in you being unable to work due to accident or illness, are you covered? Would your dependents be financially secure?
Pensions – will your pension plans allow you to retire comfortably? Do you have pensions from previous jobs that could be due for a review? If you have numerous pensions, could it be best to consolidate them to reduce the overall charges and to maximise their effectiveness?
Savings – are you saving money regularly? Are you getting the best interest rate on your savings? Are your savings protected against inflation?
Investments – do your investments match your attitude to risk? Are your current investment charges too high? Do your principles align with your investment choices? For example, are you investing in an ethical manner? Are they on track with your financial life goals?

Have you included improving your finances as a part of your New Year’s Resolutions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice. The initial consultation is free and without any obligation.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and find out more about him and his advice.

Pension scams – what you need to know

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd December 2021

02.12.21

The pension scams in Spain – What they are, how they work and how to avoid them

Pension scams have cost UK expats residing in Spain millions of pounds over the last few years. The reality is that anyone can fall foul to a pension scam, irrespective of how financially savvy they think they are. The fraudsters often seem very professional and trustworthy and promise guaranteed lucrative returns, but in reality, the victims are usually left with nothing.

How do pension scams work?
Fraudsters normally contact the individual by phone, text or email. They may claim to be a fictitious company or they may even falsify their identity, for example claiming to be from HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) or the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). After establishing a rapport with the individual, the scammer will then try to persuade the victim to part with their pension. There are multiple different strategies for this, but each strategy effectively entails persuading the victim to transfer all or a large part of their pension to the fraudster.

The pension may be stolen outright, or it may be invested into rare, high-risk investments such as overseas bonds, infrastructure or obscure technologies. The scammer may also promise early access to the pension through various ‘loopholes’ or by offering loans to be paid back upon receipt of the pension. In this scenario, alongside potentially losing their entire pension, if they transfer it out early the victim may also face a large tax bill from HMRC. If HMRC class the early pension withdrawal as ‘unauthorised’, the tax bill can mount up to a maximum of 55%!

Only in very specific circumstances are you able to withdraw your pension early. If you are contacted by someone trying to persuade you to do this, it is likely to be a scam.

Pension scams in Spain

How to avoid pension scams? Top 5 Tips

1.Research the individual/company – are they genuine?
Research the individual and the company that they work for on the internet. Depending on how they contacted you, perform a search on their phone number, email address or even their LinkedIn profile. Next, look for news articles and/or reviews on the company, ideally from an independent source (companies in the past have falsified reviews or even paid news outlets to publish positive publicity).

2. Contact a government regulated body for guidance
After conducting your own research online, why not contact an official government regulated body for additional verification? Companies such as Pension Wise, the Pensions Advisory Service or the Money Advice Service may be able to assist and ensure that the proposition is legitimate.

3. ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’
Have you been promised guaranteed returns at an exceptionally high rate? If the proposal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Furthermore, high rates of returns often also result in high levels of risk.

4. Offers of early pension access – thoroughly research
As mentioned above, this is a very common pension scam. In only very rare case scenarios are you able to access your pension under the age of 55, so if this has been offered to you please conduct thorough due diligence. It may furthermore result in a tax bill of up to 55%.

5. Investing in an unusual asset class – be vigilant of scams
Be mindful of proposals to invest in strange and obscure assets. The assets which you invest in should all have easily accessible information available on them. For example, the funds that you invest in should all have factsheets available online (on Trustnet for example) and the shares you invest in should all be listed on a reputable exchange.

Pension advice, either managing or planning, is very important and that advice can greatly improve the amount you receive in retirement, or for your loved ones after death. What it will also give you is peace of mind that your pension money is safe and not falling foul of any risks/scams, and that you are being given ongoing, good advice.

If you would like to find out more about pensions and investments here in Spain or to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris on the form below.

Can I keep my UK ISA living in Spain?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Spain, UK investments, UK ISA
This article is published on: 19th November 2021

19.11.21

As explained on the UK government website, you can keep your UK ISA open if you move abroad. However, it is not possible to add money to the ISA in the tax year after you move (unless you are a crown employee working overseas or their spouse or civil partner). Furthermore, as soon as you stop being a UK resident you must inform your UK ISA provider. If you decide to move back to the UK in the future then you may continue to contribute to your ISA.

ISA’s in Spain – can I get a Spanish ISA?
In simple terms, it is not possible to get an ISA (Individual Savings Account) in Spain. In order to be eligible for a UK ISA, you must be a tax resident of the UK (or a crown employee working overseas or their spouse or civil partner). However, there are financial products available in Spain that are similar to an ISA which can be considered as a viable alternative.

Spanish compliant investment bonds – the ISA alternative?
Similar to the UK ISA, Spanish compliant investment bonds offer tax benefits. Only select accounts are eligible for these benefits, so one must be careful to open an account specifically designated as a Spanish compliant portfolio bond. Although in Spain the gains from the performance of the investment are not completely tax free like the UK ISA, the gains from the Spanish compliant investment bonds still hold notable tax advantages. These advantages can be summarised in the following table:

Benefit Explanation
Capital Gains Tax Reduction No capital gains tax is charged until a withdrawal takes place, allowing the power of compound interest to grow the value of the investment over time.
Tax Savings on Withdrawals Unlike ‘normal’ investments in Spain, you only pay tax on the growth of the investment as opposed to the overall percentage gain. The original investment is known as initial capital.
Annual Tax Return Does not need to be reported on the Modelo 720.
Different Currencies Can be held in a variety of currencies – it is not required to be held in euros.
Inheritance Tax Reduction It can be held jointly meaning that the policy would pass to the survivor in the event of death, preventing complex legal hurdles.
Fund and Provider Choice A wide range of regulated funds qualify, which are offered by international firms such as Prudential and Quilter PLC.

Spanish Compliant Investment Bond – Tax Saving Example

Initial Partial Surrender (Part Withdrawal) of €5,000)

Premium (Initial Investment) €100,000
Surrender Value €130,000
Partial Surrender (Withdrawal) Amount €5,000
Policyholder/Spanish Resident Before Chargeable Events Yes
(Initial Investment/surrender value) x partial surrender amount
(€100,000/€130,000) x €5,000 Non-taxable Portion €3,846
(Initial Investment – non-taxable portion) €5,000 – €3,846 Taxable Income €1,154
19% tax on the taxable income
€1,154 x 19% Tax Due €219
Amount Paid to Policyholder €5,000 – €219 = €4,781
Surrender Value – Partial Surrender Amount
(€130,000 – €5,000) Closing Surrender Value of Bond €125,000

In essence the more the Spanish Investment Bond grows, the more your tax is offset.

If you would like to find out more about the ISA alternative here in Spain or to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and find out more about his advice.’ ? Or the last few words deleted altogether.

Gift tax in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Gift tax in Spain, Inheritance Tax, Spain
This article is published on: 14th November 2021

14.11.21

I hope you are all well; so far so good in getting back to a ‘normal world’ but you never know how near we are to a ‘Black Swan’. This month’s TT covers the following Hot Topics:

  • UK to Spanish driving license – another update
  • Gift tax in Spain – assets received from a UK parent, what tax would you pay in Catalonia?
  • UK private pension age to be increased from 55 -57
  • UK budget – inflation forecast of 4%+

UK driving license update
Last month I mentioned that anyone with a UK driving license in Spain could use it until the end of October. The UK government has just announced this has been extended until the end of 2021, so watch this space and let us hope an agreement is reached to exchange them for Spanish driving licenses, eventually.

gifts

Gift tax from a parent in the UK?
Inheritance tax is constantly a hot topic in the UK and living abroad also, but for many people it’s not always clear as to what the rules are. In Spain for example, it’s regional on what you might pay for inheritance tax/gift tax and depends on many variables, including the amount to be received, the relationship to the donor and your country of residence.

Many people are accruing more and more assets from parents when they pass on from this life, and these assets are accruing more and more in value. However, inheritance tax is not changing that much, meaning in real terms people are paying or will be paying more money in tax. Therefore, many are choosing to try to pass their wealth on as gifts before this tax continues to escalate and plan to mitigate as much as possible.

However, for those in Catalonia inheriting/receiving a gift from a parent the tax is nowhere near as much as people might think. What is important is that you declare it, and do it on time so as not to receive any penalties.

As I stated earlier, it’s very difficult to give exact numbers as everyone’s situation is different. However, if I use a regular scenario I come across it will give you a very rough idea of what you might pay:

Potential Inheritance Tax
A British person, living in Catalonia, inheriting from a parent an amount of £250,000 would pay approximately €4,000 in tax.

Potential Gift Tax
A British person, living in Catalonia, being gifted from a parent an amount of £250,000 would pay approximately €16,500 in tax. (Note this gift amount is based on the receiver owning up to €500,000 in assets prior to the gift being received and reporting this gift to the notary.

As I say, these are approximate figures, but it will give you an idea of what you might pay.

We help clients declare this correctly and also plan what is the best thing to do with their money, including buying property, paying off mortgages, increasing its intrinsic value or protecting it against inflation.

UK pension lump sum

Private/company pension access ages are to be increased
In 2015 The UK government changed pension rules so that anyone with a private pension could access the monies from age 55. This was greatly publicised, helped by an MP at the time who stated ‘If people do buy a Lamborghini but know that they’ll end up just living on the state pension, that becomes their choice’. Some people were worried people would spend all their pension money and then only have their state pension to live on. For the majority this did not happen (so far!).

Now the government has increased the age you can access your private pensions to keep in line with state pensions by 10 years, with UK state pensions claimable from age 67 for the most part. So from 6th April 2028 you must be 57 to access your private pensions.

This largely makes sense, although for many people who had started planning their retirement from age 55 it creates a problem. I have already starting helping many clients ‘plug the gap’ for this extra 2 year period which is more about changing what they are doing now to cover this eventuality in the future.

4% – inflation rising – the value of your savings decreases
In my last Top Tips I highlighted that inflation is starting to become something everyone needs to be aware of, after a decade or two of being very low. The impact it can have on your money is substantial.

The UK government in their latest budget have forecast this will go up to 4% in 2022 and maybe even higher. As I mentioned, for £100,000 you have in a bank account, in real terms this would be devaluing by £4,000 per year. CPI, the most common index that is used for measuring the ‘average basket of goods and services’ increasing or decreasing, went up by the MOST amount it ever has this last August (recorded by CPIH National Statistic 12-month inflation rate series) by almost 1% in a rolling 12-month measure.

This also brings real concerns for many people with private or corporate pension schemes, as nearly all have limits on what they will increase inflation by for your pension. This ranges from 2.5% up to 5%, therefore if inflation was to go above this your pension would not keep up with the increase in goods/services. We help clients plan and manage this potential eventuality.

Market volatility

What can I do with £100,000 that I might want access to in a year or two?
One of the hardest to plan for and the most common questions I receive is what to do with a set amount of money that clients might want to use in a year or two, but want it to gain an interest/keep up with inflation until then. In many cases, this ‘1 or 2 years’ very often turns into 5 or 6 years and that can be a very dangerous situation, especially taking into account inflation at 4% (that’s 20% decrease in value after 5 years).

There are a few things we highlight to clients, such as some ‘not so well known’ good interest savings accounts, using Premium Bonds and also talking through their situation to professionally plan their finances taking this into account. Over a long period of time this can make a big difference.

As ever our chosen partner for exchanging currency is ‘Smart Currency’, register here with them for free and see how much they could save you and transfer your monies safely, quickly and effectively.

Click Here to read reviews on Chris and his advice.

If you would like any more information regarding any of the above, or to talk through your situation initially and receive expert, factual based advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Chris Burke newsletter

UK tax rebates in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Retire in Spain, Spain, Tax in Spain
This article is published on: 1st September 2021

01.09.21

The TT – Top Tips Newsletter

Hi everyone, I hope you are enjoying some well needed freedom and a good summer. This month’s TT covers the following Hot Topics:

  • UK passports – VERY important news on travelling to Europe
  • UK tax rebates for those moving abroad
  • New working/retirement rules in Spain

UK passports
The first news out this year, importantly for those travelling to and from Europe, was that you must have 6 months left on your UK passport to enter the country now that the UK has left the EU; this applies even if you are a resident. Those travelling may have noticed that as well as joining the ‘Non-EU passport queue’, your passport will more than likely have been stamped. The UK has issued a statement saying that if you present your TIE resident card at passport control, they will not need to stamp your passport. In my experience this is not the case so far, even though I have given them my TIE as well. This might be an issue for those people who travel regularly, as once your passport stamp pages are full a passport is not usable. You would then need to apply for a new passport on the basis of ‘exhaustion of pages’. What’s more is that some countries will not allow entry without two blank passport stamp pages. If you are renewing your passport, it might be worth requesting the larger version with more pages to cover for this eventuality. Which leads me nicely onto my next topic.

UK red passport expiry date

UK red passport expiry date
Those who have not renewed their UK passport in the last year probably will have the old red colour passport. An important announcement was made recently in respect of these and is as such: these passports are ONLY valid for 10 years exactly. What this means is, if when you last renewed your passport and had months added that were still valid from the previous passport, these do not count anymore. Thus, these passports are only valid from 10 years from their date of ISSUE.

This will not affect everyone, but for example, if your current red passport was issued in January 2012, but expires in May 2022, because there were 4 months remaining on the previous passport which were added to the new one, you will be affected. In this instance, Europe/Spain will have this passport expiring in January 2022 and to enter you must have 6 months remaining to this date.
It’s good to have things like this to worry about, because there just isn’t enough in life is there?!

Tax in Spain and the UK

UK tax rebate for those moving abroad
Anyone who has left the UK in the last four tax years is allowed to apply for a UK tax rebate. There is no way to trigger an automatic tax refund; the HMRC needs you to submit an official claim before they can refund your tax overspend.

UK tax is calculated on your projected annual income, so if you don’t complete a full UK tax year this could be wrong, and in many cases very much so.
The main reasons you should look at this are:

  • Personal allowance – you have not used the entire amount in the year you emigrate/leave
  • You continue to be a UK taxpayer but are employed in another country

The process to find out if you are due any monies is fairly straightforward:
Complete form P85, sending parts 2 & 3 of your P45 that you should have received from your employer, or a self assesment form if you were self employed.

You can read about how to do this on the official government website here:
www.gov.uk/tax-right-retire-abroad-return-to-uk

Retiring in Spain

New part time working/retirement rules in Spain
Until recently in Spain, you either had to be working or retired from a Spanish state pension perspective. That is to say, you could not work and receive your state pension. I know, I know, it just doesn’t incentivise people who arguably have the most experience in life to contribute to the economy, as if they continue working in any capacity they cannot receive their hard worked for state pension. However, recently this has changed.
You can now receive 50% of your Spanish state pension, pay a reduced autonomo payment (self-employed monthly payment) and continue to work. As a reminder, to receive a Spanish state pension you must have contributed for 15 years and two of those years must have been within the 15 years preceding actually retiring.

If you would like more information regarding any of the above, or to talk through your situation initially and receive expert, factual advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and his advice

Top three financial tips for expats living in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Financial Planning, Inflation, Pensions, Spain, Tax in Spain
This article is published on: 22nd July 2021

22.07.21
Chris Burke | Spectrum IFA Barcelona

Hola

This month we are covering the following Hot Topics:

  • UK financial advisers are not legally able to advise EU based clients anymore
  • The important ‘rule of 72’ for investing
  • Spanish state pension inflation worry

UK investments & pension law changes
Many UK based financial advisers can no longer legally look after anyone resident in Spain or the EU due to Brexit legislation, most having already written to their clients informing them of this. However, it’s not all bad news; most UK based investments including ISAs are not tax efficient in Spain/EU, with many having to be declared annually and tax paid on any gains, EVEN if you don’t access the money. This does depend completely on your circumstances and I help people analyse their personal situation, managing their UK assets or arranging for them to become Spanish compliant moving forward.

For those with UK private pensions in drawdown, every few years to receive this money you must have a UK accountant rubber stamp this to continue. So again, you will need to find someone locally to do this for you, which we can help with.

If you have any questions or need help in respect of UK based assets, please get in touch for a free, no obligation chat/review of your situation.

Tax in Spain and the UK

The rule of 72 and poor performing investments
Implementing an investment strategy is not where your investment plan finishes; it is where it begins. Without regular reviews and maintenance there is a strong risk you will finish up with much less than you should have had. Many financial advisors here in Spain are mainly remunerated when taking on a new client, not on the performance of their investment. This is where I/Spectrum differ.

One of the many key aspects of investing is to keep a keen eye on the ‘rule of 72’, which is knowing how long before your money should double in its value. To work out the ‘rule of 72’ for your investment you use the following simple formula: divide the number 72 by the average annual interest you are receiving/likely to receive and it will tell you how many years it would take for you to double your money. So, for example, if you were averaging 4% interest per year it would take around 18 years (72/4 = 18 years), at 5% around 14 years and 6% around 12 years. To put that into a real-life scenario, if we use a starting point of €100,000 and invested over a 25 year period this amount of money would give you:

  • 4% €266,583
  • 5% €338,635
  • 6% €429,187

To put that into context, historically inflation makes your costs double every 24 years, so if your money is not well ahead of that, in real terms your monies are just keeping their present value.

Therefore, it’s imperative you really are seeing your investments growing and working for you. If they are not, I suggest you seek a second opinion and find out how you can have these optimised, because it will make a big difference to you further down the line. The main reasons for investments failing are high maintenance costs and investments that give the financial adviser a ‘kickback’. Many people don’t always understand why their investment funds are growing but their portfolio isn’t as much, and this is usually a starting point to look at.

I work in a different way, making sure it also works for the client by not using this method, but on a transparent fee basis using the best investments & platforms for the clients; not using investment funds that give the adviser more commissions, in essence.

inflation

Spanish state pension inflation worry
Back in 2011, Spain used to have a surplus state pension fund of €66 billion. This could be looked at as ‘well, at least they had a surplus; most countries have never had one’. Just before Covid started in 2019, it was €16 billion in debt. Now the state pension system, like many others, works on the principle that current workers pay for those who are retired now. The key point here is, from a percentage perspective, Spain, compared to others in the EU, has one of the highest proportions of its GDP (total country income) contributed to its state pension, at around 12%. The average ‘replacement rate’, which is the percentage of workers final salary income that they receive in retirement, was at 72% in 2019*, whereas the average in Europe is 45%. They receive, as a percentage, much more on average for their state pension compared to their earnings than their European counterparts. This is great on one hand, however this really is a great burden on Spain to provide that level of state pension to the people.

The only way Spain can carry on providing state pensions is to “increase the retirement age even higher and decrease the amount people receive” says Concepcion Patxot Cardoner, a University of Barcelona professor, as quoted by Bloomberg. That and start to move people towards saving into their own private pensions. However, this last option and the main plan moving forward is going to be difficult to achieve in a culture where only around 26% currently save into a private pension. Compare that to the UK where the latest survey showed 65% of people contribute.

If you also take into account Spain’s tourist industry (before Covid), which is the second largest in the world employing about 2 million people and accounting for about 11 percent of the country’s GDP, you can see that things are going to need to change drastically to balance the books given the current crisis.

What does all this mean? Well, to you and I, it’s even more important that we have a plan in place, whatever that is, to make sure we have provision in retirement. I am here to talk through this with you, using professional analytics tools to help take one of the most important planning aspects of your life and break it down, step by step, making it:

  • Specific to you
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Targeted

If you would like to talk through your situation with someone consultative and knowledgeable, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Are you self employed in Spain – What expenses can you claim?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Self-employed in Spain, Spain
This article is published on: 26th March 2021

26.03.21

I find people are not always aware of what they can and can’t claim back as expenses in Spain, mainly as there is no easy to understand list explaining this to you. Try asking your accountant and even they might not give you exactly what you need to understand, so, I will try to explain as clearly as possible. The following is what you can claim for, in all times, as long as you have a receipt with your name on and the payment details, using a card/account in your name (adding your NIE/TIE to the receipt is even better, thus providing you with a VAT invoice, or factura simplificada as its known):

Lunch – inside Spain you can spend €26.67 (How did they get to that amount?) and outside Spain €48.08. For a work trip away, you have an allowance of €53.34 for food, and outside of Spain €91.35. This does not include accommodation, which seems to be not capped (I would be careful here obviously).

For freelancers who work from home, Spain’s tax authority specifies certain partial deductions, such as supply expenses (water, electricity, gas, telephone, internet). The deduction is 30% of the expenses in proportion to the square meters of area at home you use, so for example an office. Not many people are aware this also includes for any home you own, on the mortgage interest part of the payment. So, if the space you work from home is 15% of the surface area, you can deduct that proportion. However, you must register your home address as your centre of economic activity when registering as an autónomo. As an autónomo, if you also partially use a vehicle for business, 50% of expenditures on it are deductible for income tax and VAT.

Car hire/leasing is covered, and generally a better way to go than purchasing a car in many cases.

Other things included as deductibles are charity donations (a specific amount) and varied work expenses, so paper, mobile phones and the contract, printers and their costs, client entertaining, travel expenses outside of food/beverage and work events. Usually, a good accountant will send you anything they aren’t sure about before they declare your expenses, so you can confirm what they are and you can then see if they are covered.

The following are importantly NOT covered and cannot be claimed as an expense:

Dry Cleaning
Purchasing of a car (even if solely for work)

Social Security in Spain

If you are earning more than the annual Spanish minimum wage as a self-employed worker or as an autónomo, you will have to pay social security contributions. If you are eligible and don’t pay social security, you won’t get any benefits. These contributions entitle you to health care and, after you’ve paid into the scheme for 15 years, a state pension. You can pay more than the basic amount to get a higher pension or make additional contributions to be covered for accidents or sickness at work.

The current monthly cost to be an autonomo is €289, whilst for many people the first year starts at €60 per month. For months 13–18, you’re eligible for a 50% discount, and from months 18-24, a 30% reduction and after 24 months it reverts to the standard rate. There are also reductions up to 50% if you are on maternity leave. The amount will differ depending on your age (over 50 it is slightly more) and you will need to make these payments even if you don’t earn anything.

Do I need financial advice

Is it better to be self employed
or run a Spanish company?

Setting up a Spanish company costs initially around €2,000 and has a monthly running cost of around €400 per individual approximately. There are also annual reporting costs and declarations, and it costs a similar amount to close a Spanish company down as to open it, so make sure you have thought this through before proceeding. In essence, if you believe your annual income will be above €80,000 then it would be worth looking into this structure. It is a lot more complicated, expensive and administrative. It might be best to run your business for a few years as an autonomo, see where you are and then look into setting up a company. It is also time consuming to close a Spanish company down.

Cryptocurrency Taxes in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Cryptocurrency, Spain, Tax in Spain
This article is published on: 10th March 2021

10.03.21

As new investment types become more popular, people generally get in touch with me about them. That is certainly the case with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and that now large investment firms are starting to invest (Blackrock for example), more people feel comfortable in also investing, or researching whether they should.

Many years ago, due to the technology (or lack of) available, it usually took some time, even a decade or so, for new companies and investments to become well known, sustainable or very successful. Now, with the exponential growth of technology, automation and social media, companies can go from almost zero to mega over a period of months or years. As you may have seen recently in the news with the commodity silver and the company GameStop, technology has become so powerful that groups of people communicating on social media can even ‘manipulate’ investment prices themselves, whether this be a good or bad thing. However, this also creates careful considerations when contemplating investing in these hyped assets.

Cryptocurrency Taxes in Spain

You need to be very aware that these relatively young and very popular assets show an incredible amount of volatility, and therefore risk. This in itself is not a problem, just as long as you understand it. Investing in anything like this, and I would put cryptocurrency and Tesla or the like into that bracket, as fantastically as they can go up, they can also come down. So the golden rule to consider is, do not invest any monies you are not prepared to lose. Imagine you are walking in to a casino and have a figure in mind that you are going to gamble with; after it is gone you are prepared to walk away without it. That amount can be whatever you like, but you have to understand you can make an amazing profit if things go your way, or, you could lose almost all of it. As long as you are aware and accept this, then you are comfortable to invest in it.

I meet more and more people who have invested in these areas and then require help in taking their sometimes life changing gain to having it managed at a much lower risk level, consolidating and securing that gain. They have made their money, there is no need to keep the risk level that high, cash some if not all ‘out’ and use your ‘winnings’ to permanently change your life. For example, if you went to the casino and won a life changing amount of money, say €250,000, would you return the following week and carrying on gambling it? At what point would you ‘cash in your chips’ and take the reward? The probability still stays at 50/50 each day whether you win or lose, so, until you have ‘cashed in’ your chips, your high-risk level is still there. By de-risking, you are guaranteeing some of that gain and reducing your exposure.

tax in spain

What about taxes on cryptocurrency?
In October last year, the Spanish government brought in greater controls for this kind of investment. In real terms, this means if you buy, sell, transfer, exchange or use to buy something with it they want to know. However, there is only a taxable event when you dispose of this type of investment.

In terms of the tax to pay, this would come under savings tax in Spain (or capital gains tax as it is also known). These rates are currently:

From 0 to €6000 you pay 19% in tax
From €6001 to €50000 you pay 21% in tax
From €50001 to €200,000 you pay 23% in tax
From €200,001 +  you pay 26% in tax

This is only on the gain/profit you have made, not the amount you sell.

Key considerations to take into account
Cryptocurrency is also applicable under wealth tax in Spain, should the region you are tax resident in be applicable to this.

If your cryptocurrency investment should incur a loss, these can be offset against any gains you have over the next 4 years, so that is something important to bear in mind.

Buying using cryptocurrency
If you sell cryptocurrency and buy another investment type having made a profit, then this would be taxed as a gain at the above rates. If you use Bitcoin to make purchases for products or services, then 21% IVA (VAT) tax would also be applicable.

If you do not make the relevant declarations or pay the necessary taxes, large penalties and fines will apply, so you must make sure you not only do this, but perform it correctly.

If you would like help in looking into investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, would like help declaring these correctly, or would like to take your already gained profit as tax efficiently as possible and have it managed professionally, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Claiming your UK State Pension whilst living in Spain/EEA

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 16th February 2021

16.02.21

Perhaps the most common questions I have been receiving since Brexit was agreed are in respect of UK State Pensions, particularly how it will work moving forward having contributed to the UK social security pension system:

  • What is my entitlement and how will UK nationals be able to claim their state pensions moving forward after Brexit?
  • What age can I start claiming (different EU countries have different age limits)?
  • How are these state pension calculations achieved?

Well, this should give you some clarity
First things first, to receive a Spanish state pension, you need at least 15 contributing years (combined years from any EU country) to be entitled to a minimum pension which will amount to 50% of the ´base reguladora´ (for Autonomos) or minimum state pension for employees, based on your past wages. At least 2 contributing years need to be within the period of 15 years leading up to your legal pension age. If you do not qualify for this, you should go directly to each country you have contributed to previously and see if you qualify from them.

Before the UK joined the EU, you would claim your state pensions from each country individually. Once we joined the EU and if you lived and contributed social security payments there, you would contact the relevant department of the country you were residing in i.e. worked and paid taxes in that country. They would then claim ALL your state pensions throughout the EU system. Under the Withdrawal Agreement for Brexit, this system has remained in place for both existing and new residents:

final salary pension review

‘The EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement announced on 24 December 2020 includes a protocol on social security co-ordination. UK government guidance on the rights of UK nationals in the EU, EEA or Switzerland to UK benefits and pensions from 1 January 2021, states:

UK State Pension
You can carry on receiving your UK State Pension if you move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension from these countries.
Your UK State Pension will be increased each year in the EU in line with the rate paid in the UK.

You can also count relevant social security contributions made in EU countries to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension.

This guidance is for UK nationals; however these rules on the State Pension apply to everyone regardless of your nationality and regardless of when you moved. (Gov.UK Benefits and pensions for UK nationals in the EEA and Switzerland, 24 December 2020).
(source – house of commons library)

Never worked in Spain or paid social security there?
You claim directly from the UK here www.gov.uk/state-pension-if-you-retire-abroad

retire

Differences in retirement ages
In some EU countries, you will have to wait longer to start drawing your pension than in others.

You can only receive your pension from the country where you now live (or last worked) once you have reached the legal retirement age in that country. If you have accumulated pension rights in other countries, you will only receive those parts of your pension once you have reached the legal retirement age in those countries.

So, it’s important to find out in advance, from all the countries where you have worked, what your situation will be if you change the date on which you start receiving your pension.
If you take one pension earlier than the other, it might affect the amounts you receive.

You can get more advice from the relevant authority in the country where you live and/or in the countries where you worked. Find out about the retirement ages and pension systems in the different EU countries you have contributed.

What age can you start claiming the state pension in Spain?
Currently 66 years, increasing by 1 & ½ months per year, until it reaches 67 in 2027.
(source trading economics)

How many years do I need to contribute for a full Spanish state pension?
36 years in general (35 for most people in the UK)

How is your state pension calculated?
Pension authorities in each EU country you’ve worked in will look at the contributions you’ve paid into their system, how much you’ve paid in other countries, and for how long you’ve worked in different countries.

The EU-equivalent rate
Each pension authority will calculate the part of the pension it should pay taking into account periods completed in all EU countries.

To do so, it will add together the periods you completed in all EU countries and work out how much pension you would get had you contributed into its own scheme over the entire time (called the theoretical amount).

This amount will then be adjusted to reflect the actual time you were covered in that country (called the pro-rata benefit).

The national rate
If you meet the conditions for entitlement to a national pension irrespective of any periods completed in other countries, the pension authority will also calculate the national pension (known as an independent benefit).

Pensions health check

Result
The national authority will then compare the pro-rata benefit and the independent benefit; you will receive whichever is higher from that EU country.

Each country’s decision on your claim will be explained in a special note you will receive, the P1 form.

See the below example of how this would work:
Dalila worked for 20 years in France and 10 years in Spain.
Both countries apply a minimum period of 15 years of work in order to have the right to a pension. Each country will calculate Dalila’s pension:
The French authority will make a double calculation:
• It will calculate Dalila’s national pension for the 20 years worked in France – let’s say EUR 800.
• It will also calculate a theoretical amount, the pension Dalila would have had if she had worked the full 30 years in France – let’s say EUR 1 500. Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension, which is the part of this amount that should be paid for the years worked in France: 1 500×20 years in France/30 years in total= EUR 1 000.

Dalila is entitled to the higher amount — EUR 1 000 a month.

The Spanish authority will not calculate the national pension because Dalila has worked in Spain less than the minimum period required. It will only calculate the EU-equivalent rate starting with the theoretical amount, the pension Dalila would have had if she had worked all the 30 years in Spain – let’s say EUR 1 200.

Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension – the part of this amount which should be paid for the years worked in Spain: 1200×10 years in Spain/30 years in total= EUR 400.
In the end, Dalila will receive a pension of EUR 1 400.
(source – Europa.eu – official website of the European Union)

State Pensions After BREXIT

Here is the official UK government wording on the continuation of Social Security Coordination between the UK & EU from Brexit:
“The provisions in the Protocol on Social Security Coordination will ensure that individuals who move between the UK and the EU in the future will have their social security position in respect of certain important benefits protected.

Individuals will be able to have access to a range of social security benefits, including reciprocal healthcare cover and an uprated state pension.

Article 114. This Protocol supports business and trade by ensuring that cross border workers and their employers are only liable to pay social security contributions in one state at a time. Generally, this will be in the country where work is undertaken, irrespective of whether the worker resides within the EU or the UK, or indeed whether the employer is based in the EU or the UK.

Article 115. UK workers who are sent by their employer to work temporarily in an EU Member State which has agreed to apply the “detached worker” rules will remain liable to only pay social security contributions in the UK for the period of work in that EU Member State. Similarly, if an EU worker is sent by their employer to work temporarily in the UK from a Member State which has agreed to apply the “detached worker” rules, they will remain liable to only pay contributions in that EU Member State.

116. Under the Protocol, the UK and EU Member States will be able to take into account relevant contributions paid into each other’s social security systems, or relevant periods of work or residence, by individuals for determining entitlement to a state pension and to a range of benefits. This will provide a good level of protection for people working in the UK and EU Member States. The Protocol also provides for the uprating of the UK State Pension paid to pensioners who retire to the EU.

117. On healthcare, where the UK or an EU Member State is responsible for the healthcare of an individual, they will be entitled to reciprocal healthcare cover. This includes certain categories of cross-border workers and state pensioners who retire to the UK or to the EU.

118. In addition, the Protocol will ensure necessary healthcare provisions – akin to those provided by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme – continue. This means individuals who are temporarily staying in another country, for example a UK national who is in an EU Member State for a holiday, will have their necessary healthcare needs met for the period of their stay. 119. The Protocol also protects the ability of individuals to seek authorisation to receive planned medical treatment in the

(source – UK government summary annex – UK-EU TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT Summary December 2020)

If you would like help talking this through, or making sure your financial assets are tax efficient, working for you in a safe manner adapting to the world as it changes, don’t hesitate to get in touch.