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Tips on Moving to Spain before Brexit

By Chris Burke - Topics: BREXIT, Spain
This article is published on: 24th July 2019

24.07.19

*UPDATED 1st January 2020

With the UK likely to leave the EU in 2019, many people are making the move and leaving the UK whilst it is arguably still easier to do so than it will be after Brexit. But what are the key things you need to do in order to be organised from a personal financial advice point of view? Here I have listed my ‘Top Tips on moving to Spain’, the main areas I point people in when making the move, or having just arrived in Spain. This could save you a lot of time, money and headaches, and is only a small example of the way I help clients living here in Spain.

  • Confirming Non UK Resident Status with the HMRC
  • Potential Tax Rebate
  • National Insurance Contributions Whilst Abroad
  • Checking Your National Insurance Contributions
  • Becoming Tax Resident in Spain
  • Existing Investment Organisation
  • Inheritance
  • Healthcare
  • Life Insurance
  • Wills
  • Property
  • Private Pensions
  • Banking
  • Why Move to Spain Before Brexit

Please click on each link below to find out more regarding that area of expertise:

Confirming Non UK Resident Status with the HMRC
Tell the HMRC that you will no longer be a UK resident by filling in form P85, informing your local council and the UK state pensions department. This is important for the following reasons:

Potential Tax Rebate

In many cases you could receive a tax rebate, depending on which part of the tax year you leave in. Tax is taken from your wages and worked out on what you are paid each month, starting with the first month. Therefore, if your final UK salary payment is in September having been earning £4,000 per month, for example, that means the following months until the end of the tax year, in March, you won’t be paid anything. Therefore, because the HMRC would have been taxing you on the basis of completing that financial year, the tax you owe could well be reduced and in many cases a rebate will be applicable.

National Insurance Contributions Whilst Abroad

You can apply for Non Resident relief when living abroad, meaning that you can pay National Insurance contributions in the UK at half the cost, so around £11 per month (which mathematically is worth doing, considering life expectancy in Europe of 84). You can also backdate these up to 6 years if you have been out of the UK that long and haven’t been paying.
www.gov.uk/national-insurance-if-you-go-abroad

Checking Your National Insurance Contributions

You can see how many years National Insurance contributions you have by entering your number on the link below:
www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record

Becoming Tax Resident in Spain

It is important that when you move to Spain you choose the right tax regime to be part of. For example, if you are working for a Spanish entity, you may be able to apply for The Beckham Law, which means all worldwide income will be taxed for 5 complete tax years at least, at a flat rate of 24% (as opposed the normal rate of up to 46%).

Or, if you live in Spain, work for a Spanish company and spend up to two weeks of the month outside of Spain on business, you may be able to deduct tax for every day you are away proportionally. So, that could mean up to half the tax payable.
IMPORTANT – Some of these tax regimes only give you a limited time to apply for them. For example, within 6 months of paying tax here you have to apply for the Beckham Law.

It may also be of benefit to set up a Spanish company instead of becoming self employed, the main rule of thumb here being if your income is likely to be consistently over €60,000 per annum.

Existing Investment Organisation

Any investments you have when you become tax resident in Spain (that is, spending more than 6 months a year in Spain and having your economic centre of interests there being the deciding factors) will be reportable in Spain and might not be as tax efficient as they should be. For example, many asset classes such as ISAs or stock/share/fund investments (unless structured in a certain way) are declarable each year and tax is payable on any gains, whether you take any of that money or not. In some cases, you can have your assets organised so this is not the case, and the tax can potentially be reduced when you do withdraw any money.

Inheritance

In Spain, rules on giving away your assets are very strict and you are limited in what you can give away per year without incurring any tax. This is an area that is worth considering and organising before you leave the UK. In the UK there is usually no inheritance tax to pay on small gifts you make out of your normal income, such as Christmas or birthday presents. These are known as ‘exempted gifts’. There’s also no inheritance tax to pay on gifts between spouses or civil partners. You can give them as much as you like during your lifetime, as long as they live in the UK permanently. However, other people you gift to will be charged inheritance tax if you give away more than £325,000 in the 7 years before your death. See the sliding scale below:

In Spain, gift tax depends on the age of the person and their relationship to you. In many circumstances you receive a €100,000 exemption, following which a sliding scale up to 20% is applied in tax. Spouses can claim up to 99% relief. It is imperative to look at this before you move.

Years between gift and death Tax paid
less than 3 40%
3 to 4 32%
4 to 5 24%
5 to 6 16%
6 to 7 8%
7 or more 0%

Healthcare

When you first arrive in Spain, registering at your local health centre should be a priority in case of illness. The requirements can change, but at present the following should be sufficient for you to acquire an individual health card (Tarjeta Sanitaria). This will enable you to register with a doctor, visit a health drop in centre (in Barcelona a Capsalut) and purchase prescription drugs:

  • NIE (tax number/residence certificate)
  • Rental contract of your apartment
  • Social Security number
  • Empadronamiento (document from the town hall confirming where you live)

Life Insurance

Insurance in Spain, in general, can be much more expensive than in the UK, and life insurance is an example of that. Many insurance companies will allow you to carry on with the life insurance you have in the UK, but you must get this confirmed in writing by them. To give you an example, I have seen an insurance cover in the UK at £22 per month, costing over €100 euro per month in Spain, and the cost is not fixed for life like it generally is in the UK.

Wills

Foreign residents of Spain are not permitted to give away more than the freely disposed part of their estate (one-third) as the rest is reserved for the ‘obligatory heirs’. If an international or Spanish will is made stipulating that the laws of a person’s home nationality apply, however, no aspects of Spanish inheritance law will apply to either Spanish or worldwide assets. In layman’s terms, if you are British, you can choose UK law and therefore leave your assets as you see fit without having to adhere to Spain’s rules.

If your estate is dealt with under Spanish inheritance law, ‘forced heirship’ rules apply (known as the ‘Law of Obligatory Heirs’ in Spain). This means there are restrictions on how you distribute your estate, as a certain percentage needs to be set aside for certain relatives.

The Law of Obligatory Heirs states that if the deceased was married at the time of death, the spouse keeps 50 percent of all jointly owned property. The remaining 50 percent is put towards the estate. The estate is divided into three equal portions:

  • One-third is divided between surviving children in equal shares
  • One-third is reserved for surviving children but can be distributed equally or unequally according to instructions in a will. The surviving spouse retains a ‘life interest’ (usufruct) in this part of the estate and the children do not inherit until the spouse dies
  • One-third can be disposed of freely in a will
  • If there are no children, then surviving parents are entitled to one-third if there is a surviving spouse, or 50 percent if not

Property

This is currently a very popular asset to buy in Spain. Key points to be aware of compared to the UK are the extra taxes/costs (approx 13% costs on top of the purchase price of a property in Barcelona) and that the market is not as regulated as the UK, which means that there are estate agents out there that are just interested in their commission. You MUST make sure you purchase a property with a Cedula (certificate that the building has passed health and safety required by Spanish law) and certificado de habitabilidad (this means the property meets the minimum standard for living in), otherwise, you might not get a mortgage and also it will be difficult to sell later as it is not a legal place to live.

If you have never lived in the place you are moving to, I strongly suggest renting an apartment for a period of time, maybe even a couple in different Barrios/areas. That way you will get a feel of what works for you. In many cases, renting actually works out cheaper than buying somewhere, even taking into account the recent rental price increases.

Private Pensions

There are sometimes tax implications on moving your pension outside of the UK, which many people have done for the resulting benefits. In the last couple of years, 25% taxes have been implemented depending on where you move your UK pension to. There are opinions that this charge could apply to the EU, should Brexit go ahead. If you are planning to move abroad, either before or after Brexit, looking into this possibility will give you the options and knowledge to assess and make an informed decision.

Banking

Banks in Spain can be very ‘charge’ friendly and don’t always fully explain how your account works. Usually when you arrive banks will give you a ‘Non resident’ account, incurring extra costs and charges. However, you can quickly open up a ‘Resident’ bank account with no everyday running costs, such as bank transfers or costs for withdrawing money from their own ATMs. To qualify for a ‘Residents’ bank account and bypass potential costs you need to transfer in €600-€700 per month.

Why Move to Spain Before Brexit?

There will be certain criteria to meet to be able to move to Spain after Brexit, in particular if you are self employed or own your own business. This is expected to include a year’s cash flow in the bank, private medical insurance, proof that your business is viable and if retiring, a minimum income of around €2,200. I have a much more in depth article you can read if you wish to know more about this.

If you have questions relating to these points, or anything similar, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Hot investments: It’s time to get creative

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 18th June 2019

18.06.19

Investing needs savvy, like a game of chess. It’s best to make carefully thought through moves so that it’s not left to chance. The most crucial part of investing is being in the know.

As a financial advisor, this is something I research and stay on top of so that I can best inform clients. And I only recommend what investments I would feel confident investing in myself. That is very important for clients to know.

When it comes to the stock market, it’s about knowledge and catching the wave at the best time. Right now in the world of investment it’s prime time for investing in some promising and exciting creative industries, namely the e-sports /online gaming industry and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

As we all know, the internet, Amazon and Netflix have totally changed the entertainment industry. We are no longer controlled by which shows are on television or in the cinemas, as we now have the luxury of watching whatever we want whenever we want. But perhaps the most massive surprise in the past year has been the overwhelming popularity of esports – which is simply fans watching professional video gamers compete online. Ever heard of Twitch? Well, there are more people logging on to watch pros gamers competing on streaming sites like Twitch than there are watching CNN or NBC.

Last autumn, a shocking 57 million people tuned in to watch a professional video-gaming (esports) match. It was triple the audience of the actual 2018 NBA finals. As a result of this success, the biggest companies including Coca-Cola and T-Mobile have spent hundreds of millions to sponsor these matches.

So, as e-sports and gaming continue to conquer all, which types of companies might be good to get in on? The top gaming companies you might want to consider investing with are Nintendo, Valve Corporation, Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, Ubisoft or Sega Games Co. Ltd.

investments in games company

And behind every great game is the hardware required to make it fanstastic. NVDA might not be a name you’ve heard, but literally all video games require ultra-high-performance chips and NVDA chips are the crème de la crème, used by over 85% of professional gamers.

(Forbes, 2018)

The ever-growing world of AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been booming and helping companies solve and manage many previous b2b and b2c issues and right now France is aiming to be one of the forerunners in the industry. Last year President Macron announced his government was investing €1.8 billion over 4 year period. A few of the top French AI start-ups are insurance fraud detection companies like Shift Technology; the AI voice assistance platform, Snips, which manufacturers can utilise for their products and Saagie, the online protection platform to store and guard our precious data for banks and insurance companies.

So, there are some exciting and creative opportunities for investment out there but as a financial advisor, when it comes to investment portfolios research and timing are crucial, as is ensuring clients are in a financial position where they able to play the market without the fear of losing their life’s savings.

Before considering any investments, I always start by advising clients to ensure they have sufficient funds they can access quickly and easily and then discuss what length of time they would like to invest other sums for, as it’s my first priority to nurture and protect their financial future. I would not recommend any client to invest in something that I would not invest in myself, but each client is well-informed in the knowledge that if they have the money to try their hand at investing, it is of course a risk. But it’s a risk that can be rewarding and a real learning experience as well.

How to retire like a pro!

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, QROPS, Retirement, Spain
This article is published on: 24th May 2019

24.05.19

Over the years I’ve helped many clients prepare for retirement. To come up with the best solutions, there are several matters and concerns to consider that don’t automatically come to mind. Some people think they have carefully planned out their glory days, only to find out there were a few things they didn’t consider; not only on the financial side, but also on the every-day-life side of things. So, here are some of my top tips on retiring like a pro, enjoying life to the fullest and sleeping well at night.

Before going into all the financial ins and outs, stop to consider this: Where do you stand financially right now? And, what life goals or dreams do you have for the coming years? Remember, we want these years to be golden, not feel like walking on hot coals. So, starting with where you are and what you really want helps provide realistic focus.

When it comes to planning ahead for your post-work life, there are (for a great number of people) three main sources of cashflow which, when orchestrated carefully, can together ensure a comfortable retirement: company pension (or employer savings plan), social security and personal savings. For others – particularly the self-employed – retirement will entail savings, investments, assets and most likely continuing with your projects whilst learning to detach a bit. No matter which camp you lie in, knowing what you will receive from each source and then working out your monthly living budget will be is a great place to start for setting out what lifestyle you can plan.

After taking into account what monthly living allowance you will have, probably the most crucial thing on the “how to retire for dummies” list is devising and then maintaining a lifestyle you can afford. Practicing frugality whilst enjoying life is indeed a quality many fail at. It’s about knowing what you have to live on and living within those means. Being prudent with your finances does not mean being tight or ungenerous. As Coco Chanel said, “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” And none of us want to be vulgar. We want to be financially prepared and savvy.

Outside of whatever your retirement plan is, it is also important to ensure you have set aside, in a separate account, an ample emergency backup supply. “Emergency” meaning for any one of a hundred things that might unexpectantly pop up and require a quick financial outlay. It will help you sleep better at night.

How to retire like a pro

Retirement isn’t always all sunshine and happy days. Many retirees struggle immensely with the sudden and somewhat shocking change of lifestyle. They go from being busy and surrounded by colleagues and friends, to being at home looking for a new purpose whilst trying not to step on the toes of their partner. For some, the extreme change of lifestyle and the thought of being on a continuous holiday can be scary and depressing. However, it should be thought of as a new opportunity to work on relationships, invest in travelling, both inward and outwards, and to learn new skills.

Nowadays, many post-retirees are creating projects to generate new income as well as keeping their minds sane and boosting their overall quality of life and health. This can also help to improve your self-worth and the relationships you hold dear. It doesn’t mean you have to work from 8 to 8. It can just be involvement in projects that help to provide a balanced life.

When it comes to retiring, there’s a dirty word we all must know and understand: inflation. As Sam Ewing said, “Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for a ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” When we are working, salaries are supposed to keep up with inflation. However, when the salary stops and you’re living off savings, inflation is like an armed robber. There are now online inflation planners which can quickly calculate both pessimistic and optimistic inflation rates and help you formulate what to expect living, household and medical costs to be in future years.

Lastly, I would suggest having a pool of money that you leave untouched and allowed to grow, until you need it later in retirement to help offset increasing expenses. If you have income from property, this is great because it more or less keeps up with inflation rates. Otherwise, consider some inflation-protected security investments – a balanced mix of stocks, bonds, short-term investments, at different levels of risk and potential growth. Considering all options and forming a good plan is something I can help each client with.

Retirement doesn’t have to be scary. If you’d like to discuss any aspects of financial planning for your retirement, please email me for a complementary face to face meeting.

Taking a Lump Sum from your Pension when Resident in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Pension Lump Sums, Pensions, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 13th April 2019

13.04.19

*UPDATED 1st January 2020

There are conflicting stories on how much lump sum/one off amount can you take from your pension if resident in Spain and what the tax will be. Indeed, many people with UK pensions believe it is better to take their UK pension lump sum in the UK before (grey line here if they have already moved!) they move to Spain permanently, as they will pay less tax. Firstly, even if you have a UK pension but are resident in Spain, this has to be declared in Spain. Secondly, if you finished contributing before 2007 you actually can receive MORE tax relief in Spain than in the UK (dependent upon the pension you have and how you take it).

To clarify, in the UK you can currently take a 25% tax free amount from all your private pensions and anymore would then be taxable.

If resident in Spain, you have the right to take up to 100% of your personal pensions in one go (100% in capital), to receive part in capital and part through regular payments or to receive the whole amount through regular payments. If you receive an amount in capital (a whole or a part) then you can apply for a tax reduction of 40% of the amount received for any contributions you made prior to 2007. This option can only be applied once, so, if you have more than one pension plan, you have to receive all of them in the same tax year if you want to apply this reduction. To clarify, it is the value the contributions have accumulated to today that is tax exempt, not the amount of actual contributions made back then.

From January 2007 there is no tax exemption, zero. Therefore, any contributions made from this point receive no tax exemption, however if the contribution to the pension runs before and after this date the tax exemption is calculated the same way.

If you take the amount as a regular payment you will have to pay income tax as if you have received any other general taxable income (a salary for example). In both of these cases, the amount that is taxed (with or without the 40%) is subject to the general income tax rate.

Lump Sum Pension Tax in Spain Lump Sum

Total amount of pensions: £150,000
Amount to be taken in lump sum/one off: £50,000
Amount tax exempt in Spain: £20,000
Pension lump sum amount income taxable: £30,000 (added to your annual income tax band)


Now if we look at the UK example we shall see the difference:

Total amount of pensions: £150,000
Amount to be taken in lump sum: £50,000
Amount tax exempt in UK: £37,500
Pension lump sum amount income taxable: £13,000 (added to your annual income tax band)

 

However, in the following scenario the Spain example works more in your favour:

Lump Sum Pension Tax in Spain Lump Sum

Total amount of pensions: £100,000
Amount to be taken in lump sum/one off: £100,000
Amount tax exempt in Spain: £40,000
Pension lump sum amount income taxable: £60,000 (added to your annual income)

 

UK Example

Total amount of pensions: £100,000
Amount to be taken in lump sum/one off: £100,000
Amount tax exempt in Spain: £25,000
Pension lump sum amount income taxable: £75,000 (added to your annual income tax band)

Important points to note here are:
If you cash in your UK pension OVER 25% and are registered in the UK as a non resident, an emergency tax code is likely to be used up to 45% and you will have to claim back what is owed to you. Unless you are able to provide a P45 from the current tax year following withdrawal from employment and/or current pension plan,

or

The pension provider already holds a P45 or up to date cumulative tax code received from HMRC as the result of previous withdrawals from that pension plan, and can apply it.

If you take your UK pension as a 25% lump sum, this should be declared in Spain and would apply to the Spanish rules of 40% being tax exempt and the rest income taxable. You would therefore pay any tax owed in Spain.

Only the FIRST Lump Sum is tax exempt so it’s important to realise that and make sure you plan effectively.

Regular payments from your pension fall under income tax

From 2007 onwards there is NO tax exemption of this kind.

Top Tips For Your Pension Lump Sum/One Off
When taking your lump sum, take it in the year that is most tax efficient for you, such as when you have lower income from other sources.

Moving your pension outside the UK could give you more freedom, more choices and potentially less tax to pay in the long term (depending on your situation).

Source: Silvia Gabarró GM Tax Consultancy Barcelona

The Many Benefits of a Financial Adviser

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Financial Planning, Financial Review, Spain
This article is published on: 3rd April 2019

03.04.19

by Jannah Britt-Green

It might seem obvious to some, but when it comes to the genuine benefits of having a financial adviser, many people are still in the dark. Some people hold certain ideas or common misconceptions, which hinder them from receiving valuable advice and help with managing their financial life. Namely, people struggle to trust someone else with their money and they believe they will have to pay the financial adviser for their services.

When it comes to trusting someone else with our money and investments, yes – it is a chance we’re each taking. But if you find a good financial adviser, you can trust that they sincerely have your best interests at heart, because they will only gain if you gain. They are educated and experienced at helping clients to come up with an effective plan – a financial philosophy if you like – for choosing wisely and preparing for tomorrow. They also have the objectivity we lack when trying to make financial decisions. They aren’t bound by the emotional ties we have with our money and they understand the complexities of mortgages, investments taxes and laws, so they can help us make better informed decisions without so much stress.

Then comes the assumption that we will have to pay a financial adviser. This is most likely due to the fact that no one believes any good service – especially one wherein you could make money – could possibly come without a price tag. Not only is this untrue, but having a financial adviser can actually SAVE money. This is because financial advisers don’t make money from their clients directly. Instead, they get a cut from the insurance / investment / mortgage companies for bringing your business to them. Even better is that, due to the relationship the financial advisors build with these financial institutions, they by and large get a better deal than clients would receive if they were to try to get the same service on their own. I have tried and tested this out myself by looking into getting the same insurance through the same company on my own and found that I could not find the same deal that my financial adviser was getting me. From this point on, I was convinced.

Recently I interviewed IFA Chris Burke, an experienced financial adviser who has been living in Spain over the past decade, to ask him what he believes are the main ways he has helped and continues to benefit his clients.

The Truth
Like any profession, we as Financial Advisers know what works and what doesn’t, and how well it works. To be a good financial adviser, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this what I would do?’ or maybe even more telling, ‘Is this what I would recommend my mum to do?’

Honesty
Always tell the truth, even if that means telling them we can’t benefit them at that time. I will always use my experience to help people make the best decisions for them and help them do it, if they desire my services. What we do isn’t for everyone and their circumstances, but it might be one day.
Good Tips/Hints/Advice

People usually come to me for a meeting to see how I might be able to help them, but if occasionally someone isn’t sure whether it’s worth the visit, I will always confirm ‘You will take something beneficial from the meeting; knowledge, advice or a good contact; like a recommended Tax Adviser, or how to top up your UK National Insurance contributions at a discount, there is always something’. And you can continue to receive my advice, free of charge, by subscribing to my newsletter: Chris Burkes Newsletter

Grow Clients Monies/Pensions
If it’s not working, most clients won’t stay with you for long, especially if other solutions/the stock markets are indicating it should be working. Therefore, we continually keep up/outperform these as much as we can. We as advisers invest our monies/pensions where we recommend clients to, which for me is the biggest testimony.

Ongoing Advice/Knowledge
There is no point in having a ‘leaky bucket’, that is to say making client’s money grow but not optimising their tax situation. We are always informing, giving our clients knowledge on the best way to mitigate this and who can help them do it.

Due Diligence
We don’t always get it right, but listening to the experts whom we hold in high regard helps us to get it ‘more right than most’. And we are continually reviewing solutions to find new ways to help clients more.

The Beckham Law 2019

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Beckham Law, Spain
This article is published on: 8th March 2019

08.03.19

*UPDATED 1st January 2020

Also originally known as ‘The Special Displaced Workers Regime’, The Beckham Law has been in place since it was passed by Spanish Tax decree in 2005. The Law has undergone two reforms/changes since its inception (2010 and 2015) and was originally open to all foreign workers living in Spain adhering to certain conditions.

Why was it brought in?
In essence, it was designed to attract brains, talent and wealth from all over the world, encouraging high earners to become Tax Resident in Spain (spending more than 183 days a year living there) and thus pay 24% income tax (IRPF), as opposed to rising up to 43% (or higher in certain circumstances). It was given its name by one of the first high profile sports people to use it, David Beckham, when he signed for Real Madrid.

Who can take advantage of it?
The main criteria to be eligible for the Beckham Rule are:

  • You must not have been a Spanish resident in the last 10 years when applying
  • You must be employed by a Spanish company, or a non Spanish company but with a permanent office here in Spain (You can be a director of a company but hold no more than 25% of the shares)
  • The rule can be used for the remaining Tax year you start in, and the following five
  • The application MUST be made within 6 months of starting your employment in Spain
  • You have to be resident in Spain and also have at least 85% of your work interests there

Reforms/Changes
The Law became infamous and a perfect fit for Spanish football clubs to buy some of the best well known footballers in the world, since the player’s tax would be much lower than in other countries. However, in 2010 the law was changed to address this popularity with high earning footballers, and a rule was brought in to limit the annual earnings applicable to €600,000, three years after David Beckham had left Spain.

Then, in 2015 they went one step further and completely excluded professional athletes from applying for this. However, those already on a contract were not affected. They also removed the limit of €600,000, but any income over that level is now taxed at 45%. Note that any capital gains would adhere to the current rules of 19%, 21% and 23% respectively (not applicable for the first €6,000).

Other Major Benefits
Critically, one of the major benefits of this rule is that under it, you do not pay taxes on any gains outside of Spain. So if you sell an asset with a taxable gain, such as a business or property in another country, you could make a considerable saving.

Moving on from this and to a more regular scenario, you would not pay tax on any property rental income, bank account interest, investments or savings in another country.

You would also not be required to submit certain other annual reports such as the ‘Modelo 720 Overseas Assets declaration’ during this period of time.

Why you might not want to apply for the Beckham Rule
There is no minimum annual earnings to apply, however you do not receive any personal income allowances, thus a general rule of thumb is that earning over €60,000 might make it worthwhile for you to apply.

The other reason you might not want to apply is that if the country you are from has a less favourable tax rate, then paying capital gains tax in Spain could be better.

If you have any questions regarding this, or would like to discuss applying for it or your personal situation, please contact us through the form below:
Source GM Tax Consultancy, Barcelona

Savings Bank Account Comparison in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Saving, Spain
This article is published on: 5th March 2019

05.03.19

The most efficient way of losing money is to keep it in a current account. Many years ago offset mortgages were introduced, which were a great way of saving interest being paid on your mortgage. Effectively, any interest on savings you had in an account that was linked to your mortgage account, reduced the mortgage payments by that amount, more or less (most simplified explanation). So, if you had a mortgage of €250,000 and savings on a linked account of €50,000, each month it’s almost as if the mortgage was only €200,000 and you would only pay interest on that amount.

To understand why current accounts are the main way to lose money, let’s suppose,for example, you have €50,000 sitting in a current account for a rainy day. Inflation has been running at around 3% lately (that’s the increase in the regular items we buy). Therefore, just for your money to KEEP UP with that, it needs to grow by €1,500 per year. Over a period of 4 years that’s €6,000.

Therefore, it is very important that you have this money working for you, especially after the hard work it took you to earn it, both to keep up with inflation so it keeps its purchasing power and to grow to build your wealth.

The very least you should do is have the money in a savings account, or similar. So what are the current bank savings rates in Spain? Well, they will guarantee to lose you money every year, but they are better than having money sitting in your current account:

  • 1.5% ING – interest rate per annum, deposit term 1 month
  • 0.5% WeZink (Banco Popular) – interest rate per annum, paid given monthly
  • 0.3% BNP Paribas – interest paid quarterly

Another way of keeping your money safe and perhaps earning a larger return if you are lucky, in sterling, is having UK Government backed Premium Bonds (annual prize fund interest rate of 1.4%). Did you know that you don’t need to be British OR live in the UK to have these?

If you would like to explore other options, then feel free to get in touch and we can discuss what will work for you AND your money, giving you flexibility along the way. Knowledge and advice will help you plan your finances.

Does Qrops or transferring your UK Pension overseas work?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, pension transfer, Pensions, QROPS, Spain, UK Pensions, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 4th March 2019

04.03.19

Those people who have a UK private or company pension and are resident outside of the UK, more often than not have the choice to transfer their pension to a QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme), that is the process of moving your pension outside of the UK. However, what are the important points to note with this, how does it differ from having your pension in the UK and most importantly, does it actually work effectively?

For just over 10 years you have been able to move your pension outside of the UK. Over that time, I have seen mixed success at doing this, with the companies providing this service changing, fees in essence reducing and the options of managing this growing. What has also changed is the benefit of doing this, alongside the advice you receive. Unfortunately, I have come across many cases where this has not worked well, and the reasons are nearly all the same: bad advice was given by the financial adviser who put their clients is funds/pensions that were overpriced and expensive.

To summarise, the current key potential benefits of Qrops would be the first step to seeing if this could be the right choice for you:

  • Pension potentially outside of future UK law changes
  • Brexit and the impact it would have on being a British person living in Spain
  • Potentially side stepping an expected 25% tax charge for moving pensions after Brexit
  • Currency fluctuation (ability to change your pension to euros when convenient)
  • Portability – the ability to move your pension in the future if needed
  • Potentially reduced tax liability
  • Inheritance – potential reduction of tax to beneficiaries or potentially lower tax on death (depending on your country of residence)
  • Peace of mind
  • Closer personal management of your pension
  • Tax efficient (working alongside a local tax adviser) potentially

And what are the key points that might mean Qrops is not right for you:

  • Returning to live permanently in the UK in the next five years (or maybe longer)
  • Pensions total value under £60,000 (the charges would be, in my opinion, punitive)
  • A company scheme where the benefits outweigh transferring
  • In the near future, wanting to take most of the money from your pension
  • Not having your pension in a Qrops managed well and expensively

From the perspective of access to your money, there is currently not much difference to having a personal pension in the UK or a Qrops. With the rule changes a few years back, you can, in essence, get access to your UK pension from age 55 in the UK and as much as you like, just as in Qrops.

Where Qrops really can help is moving an asset away from the UK and any potential rule changes, which have been regular over the recent years (mainly worse for the person owning a private pension). Couple that with Brexit and a potential 25% tax charge, then having your pension outside the UK will give you peace of mind in knowing exactly what the pensions rules would be for you moving forward. Also, given the fact that if you did ever move back to the UK (statistics show that for a British couple, there is a 75% chance one of you will go back at some point), you can transfer it back with you (there could also be tax benefits of doing this) and with some pension companies no charge.

However, perhaps the most important question is, does it work? The simple answer is yes it can, BUT it has to be set up the right way, with the right company and if you are given the right advice for what your pension is invested in. Basically, it needs to be done for your benefit, not so that the adviser can earn as much commission as possible from your pension.

Whenever I take a new client on, I always ask them if they would like to speak to an existing client to see what their experiences were, which is what I would do when performing my own due diligence.

If you would like to talk through any pensions you have and what your options are, feel free to get in touch and know that you will be given good advice, whether you become a client or not.

G transferred her pension 4 years ago; it has grown significantly over that time. “Chris has always been consultative and there when we need him.”

J transferred his pension 6 years ago. “It has grown well over that time. Whenever I have needed money from my pension Chris has arranged this for me. I would recommend him for sure.”

C transferred her pension 5 years ago. “It has grown steadily in that time (I am a cautious investor) and since then my husband and I have asked Chris to help us with our other investments.”

UK Investments & ISAs – Tax Treatment in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Captial Gains, dividends, Investments, ISAs, Premium Bonds, Spain, Tax, UK investments
This article is published on: 16th April 2018

16.04.18

With automatic exchange of financial information between most countries now standard practice, most of us already recognise the importance of declaring our assets properly and fully. In the UK, if your accountant or tax adviser declares your assets incorrectly, they are liable; however, that is NOT the case in Spain. I have been contacted by many people with various stories of how their accountants in Spain have reported assets. Sometimes it feels like people are speaking to numerous accountants until they find the one with the answer they want – if the declaration is incorrect though, and leads to an investigation, you are personally liable. Therefore, it is essential to have your assets reported correctly.

It is quite straightforward to understand the Spanish tax treatment of your UK assets. If they are NOT Spanish compliant – that is to say, not EU based and regulated AND the company holding these assets doesn’t have a fiscal representative and authorisation in Spain – then income and investment growth are taxable annually. Note that investment growth on assets such as shares, ISAs and premium bonds is taxable regardless of whether you have taken any income or withdrawals.

Below you will see the main list of investments that need to be declared and the tax rates that apply annually:

Type of Assets/Investment Tax Payable Type of Tax
Investment funds/stocks/shares Yes, on growth Capital Gains Tax (19-23%)
ISAs Yes, on growth Capital Gains Tax (19-23%)
Premium Bonds Yes, on gain/win Income Tax (19-45%)
Interest from Banks Yes, on growth Capital Gains Tax (19-23%)
Rental Income Yes Income Tax (19-45%)
Pension Income Yes Income Tax (19-45%)

Expenses may be able to offset some of the tax on gains, and for long term property rentals you can receive up to 60% discount on net rental income. However, tax reliefs and allowances that applied in the UK are not available to you in Spain.

There are ways of reducing these taxes, by having your finances organised correctly, and in many cases there is also scope to defer tax. This means there is no tax to pay if you are not taking an income or withdrawals from your investment. In fact, the more your money grows, the greater the potential tax saving.

The first thing you should do, and any financial adviser or tax adviser should do, is consider ways of mitigating your tax, both now and in the future. Otherwise you could end up with a ‘leaking bucket’. Many accountants are starting to increase charges for declaring UK assets, which need to be listed individually and where there is often lack of familiarity with the assets held. By the time you have paid the tax for NOT drawing your money, paid your accountant and lost any tax relief that applied in the UK, in most cases there are more cost effective, tax efficient, Spanish compliant options available. Furthermore, for those returning to the UK, there is still generous tax relief which applies to certain Spanish compliant investments.

For an initial discussion regarding your finances and practical guidance on planning opportunities, please get in touch – my advice and recommendations are provided free of charge without obligation – chris.burke@spectrum-ifa.com

Tax relief on Spanish charity donations

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Spain, Tax Relief
This article is published on: 19th March 2018

19.03.18

When you pay Spanish income tax while residing in Spain, you can qualify for tax relief on any charity donations that you make (to certain types of charities such as foundations or NGO’s, i.e. non profit making organisations.

The tax relief you can receive here in Spain, whether you are employed, self employed or have a Spanish S.L. (company) are as follows:

For individuals & self employed (autonomo)

Amount paid in charity donation,
up to per year
Percentage deduction (%)
150euro 75%
Amount paid above 150euro 30% (or 35*)

 

* If the amount paid in each of the two previous years is the same or more than the amount paid the previous year of each of these two years, the percentage increases to 35%.

The amount deductable cannot exceed 10% of the taxable income of the year.

For companies

Tax relief is 35% unless the amount paid in each the two previous years is equal or more than the amount paid the previous year of each of these two years, in which case the percentage increases to 40%.

The amount deductable in a year cannot exceed 10% of the taxable income of that year. If it does, you can apply the excess during the 10 following years.

In each of the above cases, the deduction is taken from the amount of tax to be paid.

People are much more responsive to charitable pleas that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary than they are to statistical information about the scale of the problem being faced. In essence, we are ruled by our hearts, not our heads when donating and showing the proven effectiveness of the charity can actually have the opposite effect to that intended. Take the time to research your chosen charity to make sure your money is going to be doing what you want it to do.

Although many people would like to leave a gift to charity in their will, they often forget about it when they write their will. Research has shown that if the will-writer just asks someone if they would like to donate, the rate of donation roughly doubles. Remember to make a list of any charities you would like to contribute to, before you sit down to write your will.

Giving to charity is contagious, seeing others give makes an individual more likely to give themselves and gentle encouragement from a prominent person in your life can make also make a big difference to your donation decisions. Most people support charities in one way or another, but often struggle to make donations as often as they think they should or would like to.

If you would like to donate to charity more but it slips to the back of your mind, create a habit. For example, every time you receive a bonus or every time you get paid you could make a donation, or if it is the birthday of someone close to you, send them a birthday wish and give a little to charity. Spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves!

Source GM Tax consultancy, Barcelona.