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Viewing posts categorised under: Bank Charges

Should I leave money in the bank?

By Michael Doyle - Topics: Assurance Vie, Bank Charges, Banking, France, Investments, Luxembourg
This article is published on: 22nd March 2021

22.03.21

For citizens living in France, assurance vie is known to be one of the safest ways to invest money and organise your inheritance. It is an insurance instrument that serves as a tax-efficient investment vehicle containing one or more underlying investments.

Why It’s Considered Better Than the Bank?
In November 2020, the Banque de France told us that the average interest rate on bank deposits is 0.46%, unchanged since August 2020.

Any gain on your deposit would be subject (in general) to a 30% charge between tax and social charges, leaving a return on investment of just 0.32%.

Couple that with the fact that inflation in France in 2020 was 0.46% (www.statista.com) and you are effectively losing money by leaving it in your bank account.

A well-managed cautious portfolio held within an assurance vie returned about 4% in 2020.

Benefits of Inheritance
When you set up this form of investment before you turn 70, each beneficiary is entitled to a tax-free deduction of €152,500 for money invested before you turn 70, with taxes limited to 20% for everything beyond that (although sums exceeding €700,000 per beneficiary are subject to a higher tax rate of 31.25%).

Why Should You Invest in Assurance Vie?
Investments held within an assurance vie grow income tax and capital gains tax free, so you have a gross roll up of any gains within the investment.

Tax and social charges are paid only on withdrawal, however as part of the return is capital much of these gains are offset.

Advantages for Foreigners
If you are a foreign national living in France, assurance vie should be a key investment, particularly if you expect to live there for the long term. As a British expatriate living in France, you have a host of international assurance vie policies at your disposal, most of which are Brexit-proof. Not only are these policies consistent with the European Union rules, but they also operate across borders in the United Kingdom, meaning you can take them with you if you change your home again or go back to the UK.

New Spanish bank charges post-Brexit

By John Hayward - Topics: Bank Charges, Spain
This article is published on: 11th February 2021

11.02.21

If you bank with Sabadell, you may well have noticed that they are charging you for transfers in and out of your account. Although you may have an account that didn´t attract changes before Brexit, it could do now. When approached by a client of mine, who has a Premium account with Sabadell, their response was, and I paraphrase “because we can”, using the Bank of Spain rule book to justify the charges. It is because the UK is no longer in the EU. It appears that these charges are being applied to ad hoc transfers as opposed to regular payments such as pensions.

I have heard of other instances where transfers have been made from the UK using a currency exchange company. Currencies Direct, for example, have stated that they will cover the charges made by banks as they feel that it is incorrect and goes against the SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) agreement, challenging the actions of the banks.

Solutions

  1. Close the account with Sabadell. (This is probably not convenient for many)
  2. Tell Sabadell that you will close the account if they continue to charge. (You will probably not get too much of a reaction to this one)
  3. Instead of transferring money as and when required, which is something many people do, set up a regular payment.
  4. Make transfers via companies where you can have an account in GBP and another in Euros. When the money is received or paid by Sabadell in Euros, from or to an EU based account, they do not charge.

I understand that other banks are also making charges when they did not before Brexit, so check with your bank. You do not have to just accept what they are doing.

Avoid Bank Charges

By John Hayward - Topics: Bank Charges, Banking
This article is published on: 20th March 2017

20.03.17

A number of banks have a variety of current accounts. It would appear that customers are not always advised by their bank what is the best account for them. For many expatriates, especially those buying and selling property, when money is paid into or from a bank account, the charges made by banks can be huge. It is quite common for charges to be made on both the money entering the account, after a sale of a property, and then again on the same money when a new property is purchased and money is transferred to another party. Some banks have accounts which do not attract fees. There will almost certainly be conditions such as a minimum deposit into the account each month. However, and for many retired expatriates, these conditions are not likely to be too difficult to satisfy. You may even be paid interest on balances or receive bonuses on direct debits. Make certain that the account you have is the best for you.

Paying too much tax on pension income

When submitting an annual tax return in Spain, there are (at least) two ways of calculating the tax due on UK sourced income. One way is to tell your accountant how many pounds you received and the accountant will convert this into euros using the exchange rate from the previous 31st December. For example, the exchange rate used for annual tax returns submitted in June 2017 will be based on the rate as at 31st December 2016. The problem is that, with fluctuating exchange rates, one could be paying tax on money that was never received. Let’s say that each month from January to November you received monthly income based on an exchange rate of 1.15 but then by 31st December it had increased to 1.20 euros to the pound. Your tax bill will be based on 1.20 even though you had only received 1.15 for 11 months. The alternative way of submitting the return is to ignore P60s etc. and simply submit evidence of exactly what euros you received through the year. If you are not certain, talk to your accountant.

Obtain proof of your current address

More and more often, financial institutions will be asking for evidence of where you live. In so many cases, all bills are put in the name of only one partner and in these days of online banking, people are no longer sent bank statements and not all companies accept printouts from the internet. Make certain you have a bill (not mobile phone) in your name or obtain an updated Padron certificate.

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