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Changes to QROPS from 9th March 2017

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, QROPS
This article is published on: 23rd March 2017

23.03.17

The UK Government announced major changes to Qrops schemes as from the above date (note this does not affect those who already have a Qrops). In essence, anyone who is resident outside of the EU/EEA or not living in the country where their Qrops is based (limited options here) will be taxed at 25% of the value of their pension, if this occurs within 5 years of starting a Qrops (i.e. becoming non UK resident).

So for example, Chris Burke moves his pension from the UK into a Qrops on the 30th March 2017 to a scheme based in Malta (one of the most popular places to hold your Qrops due to its strict regulation). In 2021 (4 years time) Chris decides he is moving to Dubai. He would be taxed 25% on the value of his Qrops.

Why is the UK doing this?

Well, there are many reasons and you would think Brexit is one (many people leaving the UK and perhaps taking their pensions with them). Qrops is also very popular due to its potentially tax efficient and security aspect of securing your UK pension (this is not the case for everybody so good advice is needed). You would also have to look at the potential taxes the Government would raise from this, there are many Qrops based schemes around the world and by limiting where you can hold your pension greatly affects those that can move it.
So to clarify, UK pension transfers to QROPS requested on or after the 9th March 2017 will be subject to a 25% tax charge, unless;
1. The QROPS is in the EEA and the Member is also resident in an EEA country.
2. The QROPS and Member are in the same country or territory. This is a limited if negligible part of the market.
3. The QROPS is an employer sponsored occupational scheme, overseas public service pension scheme or a pension scheme established by an international organisation.
Draft Guidance confirms that for the purposes of these measures, the EEA includes Gibraltar, which is considered part of the EU as a part of the UK.

Banks start plans for Brexit

By Chris Burke - Topics: Article 50, Banking, BREXIT, europe-news, Spain, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 22nd March 2017

22.03.17

After U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set a date to trigger the formal mechanism for quitting the EU, within weeks some of the worlds Big investment banks will begin the process of moving London-based operations into new hubs inside the European Union.

The biggest winners look likely to be Frankfurt and Dublin. Those people familiar with the plans, asking not to be named because the plans aren’t public, include the Bank of America, Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc. To ensure continued access to the single market they are considering Ireland’s capital for their EU base. Meanwhile, Frankfurt is being eyed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc respectably others said.

Dublin shares similar laws and regulations as its U.K.neighbour and is the only other English-speaking hub in the EU. Whilst Frankfurt is a natural pick, given a financial ecosystem featuring Deutsche Bank AG, the European Central Bank and BaFin.

Executives want to have new or expanded offices up and running inside the EU before the U.K. departs in 2019. With banks increasingly expecting a so-called hard Brexit – the loss of their right to sell services freely around the EU from London.

It is thought London could lose 10,000 banking jobs and 20,000 roles in financial services as clients move 1.8 trillion euros ($1.9 trillion) of assets out of the U.K. after Brexit, according to think tank Bruegel. Other estimates range from as much as 232,000 jobs to as few as 4,000.

Theresa May addresses Brexit

By Chris Burke - Topics: BREXIT, Spain, Theresa May, Uncategorised, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 25th January 2017

25.01.17

Theresa May, given one of the hardest Prime ministerial assignments perhaps of all time, gave her anticipated speech of the UK’s plans to leave the EU.

Why was it so hard?

When you have a referendum vote decided by only 2%, you have almost two equal sides to please. Those who voted to leave the EU, and those who were against it. Rather than alienate them and make them feel bad that the UK is going to leave the EU, like any good leader she had to try and get them feeling positive that, although they didn’t want it, perhaps there is lots to feel optimistic about leaving the Euro. A tough job in anyone’s book.

What did she say?

It was more of a case of what she didn’t say. Like a poker player, there was no way Theresa was going to give away to the other ‘Players’ what cards she was holding, how she was going to play them and perhaps most importantly which were her ‘Trump’ cards. What she did though was tell everyone what Britain was and wasn’t going to accept and how it would be done.

What information did she give away?

She will not settle for a bad deal for Britain, and she is prepared to walk away from the negotiations if she feels the deal is not right for the UK. Indication was also given that any agreement that was reached would be voted on by UK Parliament. She also confirmed that Britain will leave the EU’s single market – despite backing membership less than a year ago – to regain control of immigration policy and said she wants to renegotiate the UK’s customs agreement and seek a transition period to phase in changes. Her 12 point plan which starts with confirming leaving the EU and ending in a smooth, orderly Brexit, had recollections of a speech Hugh Grant gave in the film shown at every Christmas, ‘Love Actually’. It was very strong, very direct with clarity and highlighting the fact that Britain will not be bullied or pushed around. It is perhaps a strange comparison but it was arousing, just like the film, nonetheless.

How did it go down?

In essence very well. Theresa gave an assured, strong performance which the markets reacted to and she made it credible that Britain can still be a ‘Great’ force outside the EU. Whether this is the case has to be seen, but 50% of the reason why people react in life is their perception. And on this evidence, the people’s perception was good. Both from inside the UK and in the EU, most interestingly.

Banks have floors?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 24th January 2017

24.01.17

After a surprising final ruling by the European Union’s top court, some Spanish bank shares tumbled by as much as 10 percent recently. Spanish banks, including Banco Popular Espanol SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, may have to give back billions of Euros to mortgage customers.

Why?

Judges at the EU Court of Justice ruled in Luxembourg that borrowers who paid too much interest on home loans pre-dating May 2013 on so-called mortgage floors, are entitled to a refund from their banks. Banco Sabadell SA fell as much as 7.5 percent, while Banco Popular slipped as much as 10.5 percent, the largest decliner in Spain’s Ibex 35 benchmark.

The court said that a proposed time limit on the refunds is illegal and customers shouldn’t be bound by such unfair terms. Some banks are still making provisions for bad loans, which also adds pressure to profit.

The size of the problem

With €521 billion, home loans are one of the largest parts of Spanish bank lending business as they grew their real estate exposure during a construction boom in the country that burst at the end of the last decade.

BBVA estimated in July that the maximum impact from a negative ruling would be 1.2 billion Euros, while CaixaBank SA said at the time it would have to refund homeowners as much as 1.25 billion Euros. CaixaBank has already provisioned 515 million Euros, it said.

The EU court case comes as Spanish banks are under pressure from low interest rates and weak demand for credit, affecting their traditional business of lending.

The capital ratios of smaller lender Liberbank SA and CaixaBank will be hit hardest by the ruling, brokerage firm Renta 4 said in a note to clients. Liberbank will see a 75 basis points impact on its CET1 ratio, while CaixaBank will suffer a 40 basis points hit. Banco Popular will have a 36 basis points impact.

The ruling doesn’t affect the solvency of Spanish banks nor the strength of the mortgage market in the country, Spanish banking association CECA said in a statement. The Bank of Spain estimates the maximum amount of mortgage floors affected by the ruling is slightly above 4 billion Euros, an official said.

Should you cash in your final salary pension?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Pensions, QROPS, Spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 14th December 2016

14.12.16

Potentially millions of people with defined benefit or Final Salary pensions have seen their transfer values shoot up in the last year.

A transfer value, also known as a CETV (cash equivalent transfer value) can be exchanged for giving up the future projected benefits for your pension. In effect, the company buys back the pension.

Over the last 18 months in particular these values have soared.

In many instances people are being offered tens of thousands of pounds more than a year ago with some even being incentivised by their Pension scheme to leave, with a bonus given for doing so. The main reason for this is that the pension company no longer wants the responsibility of having to pay the pension when you retire. Life expectancy in Europe now is 84/85 and in effect people are living longer, meaning the pension scheme has to pay you longer.

For someone with an annual pension income worth £20,000, it is not uncommon to be offered 30 times that amount – in other words, £600,000 in cash.

However this is not the right thing to do for everybody, and there can be significant disadvantages.

‘Unique Circumstances’

Many people have seen their pension transfer values doubled since two years ago, now making it very worthwhile to re-visit these and see what the best advice would be, given this growth in values.

What is a defined benefit pension and the difference between these and a Defined Contribution pension scheme?

Workers with defined benefit pensions know exactly how much they will receive in retirement. Such schemes are either based on a worker’s final salary, or on their career average earnings. Workers with defined contribution (DC) schemes save into a pension pot, which they then use to buy a retirement income. The size of the pot depends on stock market performance. The reason for the increase in transfer values is continuing low interest rates, and particularly low Gilt Rates. Gilts are bonds issued by the Government to raise money, and the rate/interest of these is a major factor used to help calculate a transfer value for a DB pension scheme.

Pension schemes depend heavily on bond yields for their income, and with yields at record lows, many are struggling to meet their commitments to pay future pensions. So they have been offering larger and larger sums to people who are prepared to give up their pension rights.

Transferring your DB/Final Salary pensions can offer a more flexible retirement income, the possibility of extra tax-free cash and upon death the remainder of the pension can be paid out to any beneficiary’s rather than paying a reduced income only to a spouse/dependent partner and then ending.

However, keeping a DB/Final Salary pension can also offer you certainties such as an income for life with Inflation protection, Risk-free income, which does not depend on the ups and downs of the stock market.

There are currently major uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the UK leaving the EU, particularly for those people living outside of the UK. With the almost constant review and changes of UK pensions laws/taxes and the fact that 90% of UK DB/Final Salary schemes are underfunded, it’s important you review your options and the right decision with your pension.

In all circumstances, you should talk to a professional and have your own pension/situation evaluated and see what the best advice there is for you.

Making a Will and EU Succession Planning in Spain/Europe

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Uncategorised, Wills
This article is published on: 15th June 2016

15.06.16

The Laws on making a Will in Spain/Europe changed on the 17th August 2015. These changes could greatly affect what would happen to someone’s estate/inheritance when they die and it’s therefore important you understand what these are and how they could affect you.

The reason for these changes in that is essence European states have differing laws on who inherits an estate. Many of these are complicated and unclear, making it uncertain who will inherit exactly what.

For this purpose, EU Succession Regulation introduces common rules on which State’s laws apply if there is a conflict between countries’ succession laws.

The following countries are bound by the new regulation:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
Notable Absentee’s are the UK, Ireland and Denmark.

Where you are ‘habitually resident’ that country’s laws will apply

To give you an example, a person dies leaving assets in France, Spain, and Germany and resides here in Spain. Due to the fact they are resident in Spain, the assets will be governed by Spanish law.

So what are the rules of Habitual Residence?

How long you are in and how often you visit a state/country as well as the conditions and reasons for you being there. Simply put, for most people, more than 183 days in one country, living or retired there makes it your main residence.

Making a Choice of Law

This default position can be overridden if you choose to apply the law of your nationality via a Will. For example – a German national dies leaving assets in France, Spain, and Germany. They are habitually resident in Spain but have stated in their Will that German law will apply to their estate. All of their assets will be governed by German law.

What about the UK?

As the UK is not bound by the Regulation, UK assets can never be governed by the law of another EU state. However, those states bound by the Regulation have to allow the application of UK laws to assets in their state if someone so chooses.

How might this affect me?

Many EU states have laws of ‘forced heirship’ under which certain assets (such as holiday property) can only be inherited by certain people. The inheritance laws in England and Wales allow you greater freedom to leave your estate to whomever you wish when you die. If you have assets in any of the states bound by the Regulation it may affect which laws will apply to them.

Who does it affect?

All foreigners who have their habitual residency in Spain and die on or after the 17th of August 2015. Spanish nationals may disregard these changes as they are unaffected by the changes.

Examples of which Will you may need

• I am a British/Irish national and NOT resident in Spain. I Don’t Plan to become Resident in Spain.

In such a case this Regulation does not affect you. It only affects existing residents in Spain or else those who at some point in the future plan to take up residency in Spain. There is no need for you to make a new Spanish Will.

A WORD OF WARNING HERE! If you are not truly a resident in Spain i.e. spend less than 183 days a year here, then that’s perfectly ok and you have nothing to worry about. However, if you are PRETENDING you are not resident in Spain, be very careful. More and more people are getting caught out by various means, and fines can be punitive. The reasons for wanting to be UK resident are currently negligible compared to being a Spanish Resident. Inheritance tax is almost nothing if anything in many cases here in Catalonia at present, and the other taxes you pay here are again currently very similar to that of the UK. Why run the risk of getting caught?

Examples of who this may affect?

• A non-resident Scottish man who inherits Spanish assets will also pay Spanish inheritance tax.

You cannot opt out or choose your own national Inheritance tax laws on inheriting assets located in Spain. You have to pay Spain’s IHT.

Other potential questions might be:

• Can I choose my own national tax law besides opting for my national succession law? The short answer is no

The regulation entitles you is to choose freely the Succession Law of your own nationality (i.e. England and Wales or Scotland’s) in lieu of Spain’s compulsory heir rules which, following this new Regulation, applies by default if your habitual residency is in Spain at the time of your death on or after the 17th of August 2015.

VERY IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE!!!

You CANNOT choose which Inheritance Tax Laws apply to your Spanish estate. It is mandatory to pay Spanish inheritance tax on Spanish Assets, still.

For example, an Englishman resident in Spain and inherits Spanish assets will pay Spanish inheritance tax.

To clarify on Wills……
You are simply choosing the rules of which country you wish the Will to follow. Either way, Spanish assets will STILL be liable to Spanish Taxes.

For example, in Spain assets left automatically go to certain relatives, whether you want them to or not e.g. the husband dies, 25% of any Property goes to any children, whether you want it to or not. This could then cause problems with selling properties, realising assets etc.

What do I need to do?

It is essential to co-ordinate Wills and Tax Planning (look no further) in each country concerned to ensure that your estate will pass to your chosen beneficiaries in the way that is best for you and your estate.

Chris, a partner of the Spectrum IFA Group, makes sure that not only are his clients assets managed correctly, but they are kept up to date and given the best advice for most eventualities that affect many people almost daily, that they do not think about or aren’t aware of.

Common Reporting Standards

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Exchange of Information, Offshore Disclosures Facility, Spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 13th June 2016

13.06.16

What is it and what does it mean?

Common Reporting Standards is also known as automatic exchange of information (AEI). It originated in May 2014 with 47 countries tentatively agreeing to share information on residents’ assets and incomes automatically as standard practice.

It is the Brainchild of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Previously this information was shared at request, however this was not effective and largely unsuccessful. The main emphasis of this is to battle against tax evasion.

How will it work?

Countries will transfer all the relevant information automatically and systematically including:

  • The name, address, TIN (Tax Identification Number) date and place of birth of each reportable person
  • Account number
  • Name and identifying number of the Reporting Financial Institution
  • Account balance or value at end of calendar year, or if closed during that year
  • Each country is allowed to determine which accounts are reportable

When will it start?

Most European countries will start reporting in 2017, including Spain and the UK. For note of interest, other countries will report in 2018 including Andorra.

Starting to report in 2017:

Anguilla, Argentina, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands, Niue, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Kingdom

Starting to report in 2018:

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Ghana, Grenada, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Marshall Islands, Macao (China), Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Qatar, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu

What do I need to do?

Make sure you have ALL your assets:

  • Reported correctly
  • Tax compliant i.e. not in investments/properties that will mean you pay more in tax
  • Understand your personal situation, and what your options are.

Declaracion De La Renta

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, declaration de la renta, Spain, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 25th May 2016

25.05.16

Impuesto Sobre La Renta De Las Personas Fisicas (IRPF)

Declaracion de la Renta, also known as IRPF is the annual income tax return that individuals have to submit/pay to the state/region of Spain where you are tax resident. In Spain the tax year is from 1st January to 31st December and you have to declare all your worldwide income. This is essentially very similar to the annual tax return you have to complete every year in the UK.

The period to submit your tax return is from the beginning of April to the end of June depending on whether you are self employed, employed or retired. During April you can submit your tax return only if your income is from a salary or a state or private pension from Spain. In May and June you can submit all other returns.

The procedure to submit your Declaracion De La Renta is as follows:

You can ask for a draft of your tax return from the tax office, check it and if needed change the details and then submit it. All this can be done online and this system can also be used if you declare a salary.

If you have a professional activity or a business you cannot get a draft, but you can ask for your fiscal information, that is all the information the tax office already have for you. You should always check this information is correct.

If you want to prepare the tax return yourself, in the tax administration web site (www.aeat.es) you can download a program to prepare and submit it (programa PADRE).

If you are a professional or have a business/self employed (what in Spain we call an “autónomo”) it is strongly advisable that you have a digital signature. It will be useful to submit your Income Tax Return and other paper work with the tax office, for both Taxes and Social Security.

Not everybody has to submit a tax return. If you have a salary under €22,000 paid by a Spanish company or income from capital/interest under €1,600 annually, you don’t need to submit it. Nevertheless it could be advisable to check if you are entitled to have some money back, which can happen.

If you are self employed, you don’t have to submit a tax return if your annual income is below €1,000 including income from all sources. As there are other higher limits for income from capital and capital gains only, the key thing here is being self employed.

No matter what, if your capital losses are above €500 you also have an obligation to declare. This, for, example would mean if you disposed of an asset and made a €500 loss on it. Therefore, if you have a salary of €20,000 and capital losses of over €500 you have to declare it/submit a tax return.

If you receive income from outside Spain you have to submit a tax return no matter how much you have earned in one year. So, if your income is below all the limits said before, and you have monies from a bank outside of Spain that has been subject to retention or withholding tax (see EU savings directive) no matter the sum, you have to submit a tax return even if there is no tax to pay.

It might be easier and safer for you to submit a tax return via a Gestor (accountant/tax adviser) so that it is done correctly, on time and perhaps most importantly hassle free.

Company Pension/Final Salary funding update 31st January 2016

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Company Pension Schemes, Pensions, Retirement, Uncategorised, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 8th March 2016

08.03.16

With most UK Final Salary schemes (also known as Defined Benefit) now closing their doors to new members, the schemes are concentrating on trying to manage to make sure there is enough money for those people still in them for retirement. This ‘closing of the doors’ also means there is no ‘New Money’ entering the schemes, which takes away the option of new contributions paying the pensions of those currently retired, as they used to. One of the biggest reasons for this, is that many years ago these often called ’Gold Plated’ schemes were made up on the following mathematics:

People retired at 55, then died at 67.

Thus, approximately 12 years of payments should they live to this point. However, now the mathematics are more likely to be the following:

People retire at 60, and the average life expectancy is 84 in Europe.

You don’t need to be a mathematician to work out why the schemes are faltering, and worryingly in many cases, heavily reliant on their companies contributing millions of pounds to keep them going.

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) takes these schemes under its wing should the company scheme get to a point that it cannot realistically recover from poor funding. However, it is gaining more and more ‘members’ and will only cover pension income up to a point. Therefore, many client’s believe it is better not to be in the PPF if possible, and have your pension under your own control and in essence not at the mercy of a government body to bail you out. People thought that the Kodak pension scheme would always be ok; unfortunately it was not and left a lot of people with no or little pension benefits.

Below is a transcript of the update from the Pension Protection Funds own website updating what has happened and why. If you have any questions regarding this or what your options are, don’t hesitate to contact Christopher, the article writer (contact information is at the bottom of this article).

Update from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) of its members

The aggregate deficit of the 5,945 schemes in the UK Pension Protection Fund (PPF) Index is estimated to have increased over the month to £304.9 billion at the end of January 2016, from a deficit of £222.4 billion at the end of December 2015. The funding ratio worsened from 84.9 per cent to 80.5 per cent. Total assets were £1,258.7 billion and total liabilities were £1,563.6 billion. There were 4,923 schemes in deficit and 1,022 schemes in surplus.

The aggregate deficit of the schemes in the PPF 7800 Index is estimated to have increased to £304.9 billion at the end of January 2016, from £222.4 billion at the end of December 2015. The position has improved from the previous year, when a deficit of £367.5 billion was recorded at the end of January 2015. The funding ratio of schemes decreased over this month from 84.9 per cent to 80.5 per cent at the end of January 2016. The funding ratio is higher than the 77.6 per cent recorded in January 2015.

Within the index, total scheme assets amounted to £1,258.7 billion at the end of January 2016. Total scheme assets increased by 0.9 per cent over the month and decreased by 1.2 per cent over the year. Total scheme liabilities were £1,563.6 billion at the end of January 2016, an increase of 6.4 per cent over the month and decreased by 4.7 per cent over the year.

The aggregate deficit of all schemes in deficit at the end of January 2016 is estimated to have increased to £338.4 billion from £265.8 billion at the end of December 2015. At the end of January 2015, the equivalent figure was £392.6 billion. At the end of January 2016, the total surplus of schemes in surplus decreased to £33.6 billion from £43.4 billion at the end of December 2015. At the end of January 2015, the total surplus of all schemes in surplus stood at £25.2 billion.

The number of schemes in deficit at the end of January 2015 increased to 4,923, representing 82.8 per cent of the total 5,945 defined benefit schemes. There were 4,679 schemes in deficit at the end of December 2015 (78.7 per cent) and 5,175 schemes in deficit at the end of January 2015 (85.4 per cent of the 2014 population of schemes). The number of schemes in surplus fell to 1,022 at the end of January 2016 (17.2 per cent of schemes) from 1,266 at the end of December 2015 (21.3 per cent). There were 882 schemes in surplus at the end of January 2015 (14.6 per cent of the 2014 population of schemes).

Understanding the impact of market movements Equity markets and gilt yields are the main drivers of funding levels. Scheme liabilities are sensitive to the yields available on a range of conventional and indexlinked gilts. Liabilities are also time-sensitive in that, even if gilt yields were unchanged, scheme liabilities would increase as the point of payment approaches. The value of scheme assets is affected by the change in prices of all the major asset classes, not just equity markets. However, due to their weight in asset allocation and volatility, equities and bonds are the biggest drivers behind changes in scheme assets; bonds have a higher weight in asset allocation, but equities tend to be more volatile. Over the month of January 2016, liabilities increased by 6.4 per cent. Conventional and index-linked 15-year gilt yields fell by 34 basis points and 20 basis points respectively. Assets rose by 0.9 per cent in January 2016. The FTSE All-Share Index fell by 3.1 per cent over the month. Over the year to January 2016, 15-year gilt yields were up by 33 basis points and the FTSE All-Share Index was down by 7.9 per cent.

Retiring in Spain with a UK State Pension – How does it work?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, QROPS, Retirement, Spain, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 7th March 2016

07.03.16

Many people understand that the UK is in the EU (for now at least) and therefore when you retire, it should be simple to understand how you claim your State and personal pensions. The main questions people have are what pension will you receive, how will you receive this, where should you be paying your taxes and how when retired, can you receive your pension in Euros and what could happen if you don’t have this organised correctly?

Over the last few years this has changed and, as of now, works in the following way.

Never worked in Spain but retiring here

In this scenario, having never paid Spanish taxes you will receive the UK State pension by contacting the HMRC on the following links:

How to check what State pension you have

www.gov.uk/check-state-pension

How the State Pension works

www.gov.uk/state-pension

How the new state pension will work

www.gov.uk/new-state-pension

How to claim your state pension online

www.gov.uk/claim-state-pension-online

Early retirement and State Pension

www.gov.uk/early-retirement-pension

You will be able to find out exactly what you will be entitled to and how it works. UK State pensions are always paid gross and never taxed, it is your duty to report this in your annual earnings whichever country you are resident in and along with your income, pay the relevant tax. State pension does come under the tax bracket as income tax.

www.gov.uk/tax-uk-income-live-abroad

You can choose to have your UK State pension paid into a UK bank account in sterling, or into a Spanish account in Euros at the rate of exchange that day (i.e. almost no costs for doing this).

If you have a private or company pension scheme in the UK, you should register on the following link and make sure this is also paid gross to you:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/double-taxation-united-kingdomspain-si-1976-number-1919-form-spain-individual

Then, you should be declaring this income in your annual tax return here in Spain (Declaracion De La Renta) and pay the relevant taxes, it’s advisable to find a good gestor to guide you.

A word of note here, unlike in the UK where your accountant/tax advisor is accountable for the advice they give you, here in Spain YOU are liable, even if the advice you are given is wrong. This stems back from Spanish culture, which you may remember when you learnt Spanish that they say in essence ‘The pen fell from my hand’ whereas in English we would say “Oops, I dropped the pen”.

Worked in Spain & the UK, Retiring here

In this scenario, as the UK is part of the EU, you should approach the local tax office in Spain and inform them of your situation. They in turn, would then contact the other countries you have worked in and where you paid tax and National Insurance contributions. This would then be paid to you by them directly as they collect from the relevant countries.

Different countries have different ages that they start paying your State pension from, so you need to bear that in mind.

Failure to correctly declare your pension income

What if you are or planning to be a resident here in Spain, but collect your UK state and private pension directly from the UK and do not declare here and in essence pay no taxes here? Surely, as the UK and Spain have a Double Tax Treaty (DDT, which means that you will not pay tax twice on any income you receive) as long as you are paying tax somewhere it’s not a problem? Well, consider that you are living in Spain as a resident, using their services, taking advantage of the healthcare and all the other things that make living here so enjoyable. Yet, you are paying UK taxes even though you are not living there. As you can see this doesn’t seem right! And it isn’t! Therefore, if you are found declaring your income incorrectly, it could result in you being fined, maybe even substantially. What is more, there is usually a minimal difference in the tax you might pay, whether it be in the UK or here, depending on your situation and income.

Also, give the fact that WILLS have now changed as of last August, meaning in essence you can choose which jurisdiction (country, laws) your estate would apply to, there seems little reason to risk this and not declare and pay your taxes as they should be. It would certainly stop a nasty knock at the door at some point down the road, especially as of next year when Common Reporting Standards come into rule (CRS – where countries around the world will be sharing information on the finances of their passport holders) meaning it’s even more likely you could be ‘found out’. Please note, this does not change where you are taxed for succession issues.

Therefore, we recommend making sure you are doing things properly, whether this involves you declaring this yourself or through a gestor, as well as making sure your WILL is up to date.