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The EU – a Financial success or not?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Catalonia, Catalunya, eu citizens, europe-news, Spain, The EU
This article is published on: 31st October 2017

31.10.17
Chris Burke | Spectrum IFA Barcelona

What better subject to discuss, than one closest to the heart of someone living and studying in Europe.

Geneva Business School (GBS) in Barcelona, is a leading Business School providing cutting edge, innovative, Swiss quality education on a global scale. Part of their curriculum is to invite guest speakers along to hold a forum/debate on a topical subject, to enhance their knowledge, practice what they are learning and increase their debating skills.

So, where better to format the debate on discussing what the original reasons were for the EU being formed. Easy I hear you say. Ok, well we started discussing putting all the countries together and how that could make them stronger under one currency, against other economies. It was soon apparent that although this seems a sensible idea, did this work for everyone? Greece was debated as already being financially in trouble before it joined the EU, and has continued down that path, but why? When we looked at the Government debt of each country before joining the EU and present day, it’s clear many of the country’s debt has doubled; The UK, Greece, Italy, France to name but a few, but why haven’t others? No one was surprised Germany’s hadn’t, but why hadn’t it? We discussed Germany’s manufacturing capability compared to the other countries; this could well be a valid reason. There was mention of ‘black’ money still prevalent in certain countries, mainly Italy and Greece where in some places you still couldn’t pay by card, only cash. It was well known a few years back the Greek underground had been losing money hand over fist due to passengers not paying. Was there a cultural issue here that was denying the government, in those countries, of more revenue from tax?

Freedom of movement was on everyone’s lips as another good reason for the EU being born. Freedom to move elsewhere, find work, perhaps a new life, career. It was quickly pointed out this didn’t work for everyone, an Italian farmer (highlighted by an Italian student) would not agree this had worked well for him. Of course, you cannot please everyone and there are countries in the EU whose farmers receive subsidies to help.

Access to the common market, so trading made easier for countries in the EU, cheaper and more direct for them to sell within. This making them potentially more competitive than those outside it. This was a strong reason for the EU to be formed.

So there was one more, major reason, that after we discussed what it was, agreed that perhaps this could be the biggest reason for the EU being formed, but is hardly ever brought up. We discussed that during the Brexit negotiations this was hardly ever mentioned as a reason to remain, if it was its press headlines were minimal. When you are part of a team, whether it be a sports team or any other, you have a common reason/goal to make it work. You may have disagreements, but because you all want the same outcome, which benefits you all, you work hard to find a solution. Differences can be put aside, or debated, and there may be a skirmish occasionally but in general, conflict is usually avoided or at least minimal. Stopping wars and keeping the peace was one of the founding reasons for forming the EU, yet it hardly ever gets the status it should deserve.

So, taking all this into account, did we think the EU has been a financial success? Certainly not to everyone, but if you were a consultant brought in to investigate and make a decision, the debaters at Geneva Business School voted marginally it had. Wars cost money, however they can also generate it……

Other key questions asked were:

Where are we economically in the world?
We are in the second longest Bull Run in the history of the stock markets, we certainly aren’t on the bottom run of the ladder in terms of its upward curve, probably not in the middle, how long there is to go is anyone’s guess, but we are probably in the final third.

Government debt are at the highest rates ever, can it be repaid?
No. Even if we had ten more fantastic years on the stock markets, which is highly unlikely, it’s my belief it’s almost impossible to repay these. Looking at debt clocks is frightening and best not to be done!

Bitcoin, good investment or not?

The jury is still out on this, it continues to provide itself as an investment choice. Will it last? Do the bank’s want it to last? Will it be here tomorrow? For the high risk takers it’s a choice, for everyone else it’s too early to tell.

Property, a good investment in Barcelona?
Simply, if you are intending on holding it for a decade or so, and being able to fix the mortgage interest rate for life, it’s hard to advise against it. For anything less, you wouldn’t want all your investments in one asset class.

So, our final thoughts were, on Maslow’s Conscious Competence Model, where did we rate the EU? And the overwhelming answer was:

Conscious Incompetent – that is to say, the EU knows it isn’t working, and is arguably trying to fix it although isn’t sure how. But how much we wonder…….

Potential Catalan Issues

By Chris Burke - Topics: Banking, Barcelona, Catalonia, Currencies, Elections, Investments, Spain
This article is published on: 5th October 2017

05.10.17

It seems Catalonia and Spain are continuing their loggerheads and head jutting, but what most people are starting to consider are their OWN assets and issues being a resident here, particularly if you are not Catalan. I have received many emails this week from worried clients and contacts, about having their money here and what they can/shouldn’t do.

See below my 5 TOP FINANCE TIPS for the current predicament and indeed some of the areas we help people with.

Spain’s stock market has taken a severe hit this week, with two of the Catalan banks, Banco Sabadell and Caixabank down 6.3% and 6.7% respectively. Indeed today Banco Sabadell is holding an emergency meeting, Thursday the 5th October, to approve relocating their headquarters out of Catalonia.

Therefore, as an emergency communication to my clients and contacts I thought it would be useful to know what you should be thinking about and the main questions that have arisen this week:

1. Personal Money in banks
Any money in a bank, unless used to live on a day by day, is devaluing in real terms. If Spain reacts to Catalonia declaring independence, we have no idea what might happen. In the last crisis, banks made it difficult to move and even limited the money you could take from your bank account. If you have ‘excess funds’ in accounts in banks, you may want to consider other options so you still have full control of your money and no worries.

2. Business Bank Accounts
If your business account is with a Catalan bank, but you have a personal one that is not, you CAN move money into this. However, you have to be careful and follow these guidelines:

‘In order to avoid problems with the consideration of dividends it would be preferable to do a loan agreement between you and your company and to file a form through la Generalitat, in order to demonstrate the date of the loan and the content of the agreement. There is no stamp duty to be applied and it is not necessary to go to a Notary, but it is better to have this document done, just in case, if in the future somebody asks about this amount.
Source: Silvia Gabarro, GM Tax.

3. Currency
Anyone with sterling Money will have felt the pain of the currency weakening since the Brexit vote. Analysts have been saying for months that this is very undervalued, and built on worries about the UK leaving the EU. However, there are still fundamental issues within the EU, including the real major problems of the Italian banks, the fragile Spanish economy and a few members who are heavily in debt and unlikely to ever be able to repay this. Now we also have the Catalan Independence problems coming to a head within Spain, this could be compounded. Then in May next year we have the Italian elections which could be interesting to say the least.

Therefore, it could be argued before the Euro weakens any further, a good time to transfer money into sterling from Euros.

4. Existing/Investments
Many Catalan/Spanish banks whose client’s money is invested have more of an emphasis on their own funds or Spanish funds, than a non Spanish bank/investment would. We call this being more ‘Spanish Centric’. If the Spanish stocks are booming then this is fine, however if not the case this could be very dangerous to your investments, whether personal or corporate.

The larger the stock market, the closer correlation (it does the same as) to other large stock markets. Therefore, if your money is invested with a truly global bank/investment firm you will not put your money so much at risk to this.

5. Relocation
Believe or not, some businesses and people are relocating due to the current predicament, and some companies share prices have even gone up by 20% on revealing this news to the press!

You may or may not want to consider this, or be in a position to, but your personal and corporate finances do not need to worry if you have them set up correctly. Companies’ savings and your personal money can be with a ‘Portable bank/institution’ that acts like a balloon. Wherever you go, you pull your balloon along with you happily. Then, when you want to access some of the money, you let some ‘air’ (money) out and adhere to the local rules of where you are. No need to open up bank accounts in different countries, or go through the extensive administration. Just tell us you want your money and after some due diligence you shall receive it, wherever you are and knowing the process is legal and compliant.

Wealth Tax in Catalunya

By Barry Davys - Topics: Barcelona, Catalunya, Estate Planning, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Wealth Tax
This article is published on: 3rd August 2017

03.08.17

We understand the need to pay tax. It gives us hospitals to treat our family, care in later life and many other services. Yet it is also easy to feel unhappy about some taxes. Some seem just downright unfair.

Wealth tax is the first of these. Having worked hard and paid tax on our earnings, we have then also paid tax on our savings. Despite this we have managed to build our savings, have become less of a burden on the state and yet we are now taxed again with Wealth Tax for having saved. Fortunately, it is possible to pay what is due but also to manage the amount due.

Wealth Tax in Catalunya – How it works
Wealth tax ( Patrimonial ) is applied if your worldwide assets are more than 500,000€ with an additional allowance of up to 300,000€ for your main residence. The tax is based upon your net wealth; assets minus liabilities.

In Catalunya the rates of tax start at 0.21% and rises to 2.75% depending on your wealth. Each year!

Your wealth as at 31st December is declared as part of your Declaración de la Renta, your annual tax return and the payment of the tax made on the 30th June in the following year.

How to manage the amount due
There are some assets that are excluded from Wealth tax. Surprisingly, some of these are mainstream investments. It may be possible to reduce your Wealth Tax by using an exempt investment.

In addition, the amount of tax due is capped at 60% of your income tax base, subject to paying at least 20% of the total tax based on your wealth. It is often possible to adjust your income so that you are limited to the 60% of your income tax base. Typically, this is done by using investments which are not assessed for tax each year. However, there are several methods of planning to achieve a reduction in Wealth Tax.

Is buying Property in Barcelona a good investment?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, mortgages, Property, Spain
This article is published on: 29th June 2017

29.06.17

Over the years, we’ve heard the arguments as to which is the better investment: Property or investments. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and there are several aspects of each that make them unique investments in their own way. To make money with either investment requires that you understand the positives and negatives of both.

Ever since the Olympic Games in 1992, Barcelona has become a very popular place to visit, live, work and invest.

Why is Barcelona such a great place to live?
From a logistical point of view, quality of life, the cost of living and the culture/the way people live here, it’s easy to see why Barcelona is such a popular place to live. It has a good International airport 15 minutes away by car that flies to most destinations, and the most popular several times a day (to London for example you have more than 30 flights a day in the summer). You can live as cheaply or as expensive as you wish and still enjoy the beautiful city (even the museums are free on at least one night of the year) as well as the surrounding countryside and beaches. With France only being just over an hour away, the Ski slopes two and a half, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular place to live. The city has a very laid back feel and is easy to get around. I have never heard anyone say they have had enough in Barcelona, put it that way. Yes, it does have some problems like any city, notably organised theft but if you are aware of these then you can easily stay away from them.

Property
Historically, mathematically, it is hard to beat Property as an investment if purely making an overall gain on the money you do invest is your end goal in Barcelona, just as in many other major cities. Property is something that you can physically touch and feel – it’s a tangible good and, therefore, for many investors, feels more real. For many decades this investment has generated consistent wealth and long term appreciation for millions of people. And therefore it should be part of anyone’s assets if they are able to afford one.

What you do have to consider though is why are you buying this property? Is it for a home i.e. an emotional purchase, or purely an investment? For what length of time? What is likely to happen in your life in the next 5-10 years? What currency do you have your money in now? These are some of the key questions to ask yourself.

If you are buying for a home, what you would call an emotional purchase, then in terms of evaluating as a good investment it’s almost irrelevant. This is going to be your home, so whether it goes up in value a great deal, a little or not at all (unlikely over a 15-20 year period) it’s about being happy living there, by yourself or with your family, is all that matters. It’s the memories that count perhaps more than anything else. As long as you don’t pay way over the market value for a property, in the long term you should be fine as an investment and as a home. If it’s purely for an investment, then you need to take into consideration a lot more factors.

Currency
If your money is in a different currency to Euros, is it a good time to change that?

Brexit (particularly if you are British)
Many would argue that keeping a ‘foot’ in the UK with assets or currency is a good thing to do. You never know what is going to happen, it gives you options in the future. You might not want all your assets in Euros, in case you decided to return to the UK as some people have. If there has been a big swing in currency against the pound, this could seriously limit where you do live/your options.

The Costs of Buying a Property in Barcelona
Buying a property in Catalonia is expensive. The costs of purchase are approximately 13% in total. Comparing that to the UK, which up to the value of £250,000 it would cost you approximately 3%, and over £250,000 it would be around 6%. Adding to that the cost of then selling your property at 5% in Barcelona as opposed to 2% in the UK, it is around 10% more expensive here than in the UK to buy and sell somewhere. So if you are looking for a short term investment and particularly if your money is in sterling, taking those factors into account it’s going to be more challenging to make it work for you.

If you are solely interested in investment return, then you have to look at the ‘Yield’ of a property and be unemotional regarding it. This tells you how much of an annual return you are likely to get on your investment. It is calculated by expressing a year’s rental income as a percentage of how much the property cost.

In other words, if the estimated monthly rental on a flat is €1,000, the annual rental would be 12 times that, or €12,000. And if the flat cost €200,000 to buy, then the “yield” would be described as 6% (annual rent, divided by the cost of the property, multiplied by 100). This is known as the ‘gross yield’ which is before all other expenses on running the apartment; the ‘Net Yield’ would be after all costs’.

Therefore, as an investment most professional property investors will not purchase anything less than 7% Yield (gross depending on the maintenance costs of the property annually) otherwise mathematically the property is not giving enough return, even though many will argue the price is increasing and therefore in real terms your investment is rising. But for most property investors, it’s ALL about the Yield.

It’s also all very well buying property in an upward market, as many investors will tell you. The secret to making a profit on property investing is very simple: buy at a good price and sell for much more. That all sounds very easy, but if the charges are excessive it could take quite a while for that to come to fruition.

However, Barcelona in general is on a good upward trend which helps, and also it’s clear to see that if you look hard enough, there are some bargains still to be found. And perhaps one of the biggest benefits of buying in Barcelona, is that you can fix your mortgage ‘for life’ at a very good rate at present, something which is unheard of in the UK. Currently you can get around 2.5% fixed for the life of your mortgage www.spectrumspanishmortgages.com/en/home/ Let’s just think about that for a moment. So let’s say your mortgage is €1,000 a month now, in 25 years time it will STILL be €1,000 a month. Historically inflation goes up by 3% every year, meaning every 24 years inflation doubles. So, IF you could get a mortgage at the same rate in 24 years time it would be €2,000 a month, however it is more likely the rate will be higher then as we are at a time when the rates are incredibly low. So, to put it in real terms, in 24 years your salary, should you stay in the same job, should have gone up with inflation and therefore doubled, yet you will STILL be paying the same mortgage of €1,000. Therefore, every 8 years your mortgage outgoing will be decreasing by a third in real terms.

If you are going to own more than one investment property, it would probably be more tax efficient to put these into a Spanish company (S.L.) and have these managed for you. Arguably it would save you money in taxes and inheritances later (although these laws do change) by taking money out through dividends.

What other options do I have?
If you want to ‘flip’ your money, that means to invest in something short term, make a profit and take your money out then your options are limited. Stocks can be volatile over that period of time, back accounts offer tiny interest rates and in general you are looking at more high risk strategies. One of the reasons for this is, yes over a period of time property is a great performing asset, but property prices don’t just keep going up, or even stay the same. If you were to buy at the wrong moment, when the market freezes or crashes, you could find it very difficult to get out of that particular property without holding it for a long period of time or losing money. Cyclically they can crash, and when they do, this can cause major headaches/heartache for the owners. Not just from a loss in value either.

Potential Property investment issues
Imagine your 2 properties are rented out as investment. However, what if one of your tenants decides not to pay anymore, because they lost their job, or just because they decide they don’t want to (this happens more than you think). That income needs to be covered. In the UK you have procedures in place to remove these tenants fairly for both sides within 3 months. IN Barcelona, this is not the case. The laws are on the side of the tenant, and most lawyers will tell you the best way to get your non paying tenants out is to pay them off, unbelievably! And even then they could still refuse to leave and there is not much you can do until the end of their contract.

Let’s imagine that none of this happens, that you have a successful property investment over 15 years and you manage to double your investment of €200,000 into €400,000. Of course, you also have fees of 18% to consider (13% on buying, 5% on selling, although remember you are selling at €400,000, not €200,000 so its 5% of the higher figure. So actually you receive €400,000 minus approximately €46,000, that’s a gain of €154,000 over a 15 year period). Now you have to pay capital gains tax on that gain which starts at 19% up to 23%, which would be €34,300, so you would be left with €119,700. Which assuming the rent you received covered the mortgage and not much else is a decent sum.

However, let us imagine that instead of owning two properties, you only owned one. The other you invested in a portfolio that matched your risk/reward profile, that was liquid (you could have access to this after 5 years, with limited access before it) and very tax efficient.

Being cautious, let us say you achieved 4% gain per year on your investment which would value that at €360,018 (4% compounded interest over 15 years). There are no other charges or taxes to worry about except capital gains tax on that amount. If you have done this with a Spanish compliant product, you would qualify for ‘Spanish proportional Tax’ which means the gain would be offset by the original investment amount. Therefore, in the above scenario you would pay €35,584 capital gains tax on the property, leaving you a net profit of €124,434 . However, if you took this as an annual income of say €14,000, then just over half would be tax exempt, see below:

€14,000 drawdown per year from €360,018, tax payable of €1,187 per annum.

You can repeat this year after year, and on the basis that 4% interest is earned from the €360,018 at €14,000 annually, this effectively covers the €14,000 a year you take as income, meaning you could receive this every year paying the same tax, still keeping the same capital amount of €360,000.

So in real terms, over another 15 years you would pay little more than €17,805 in tax, from taking €210,000 income AND still have the capital of €360,000 which you can use/assign to someone else or pass on to heirs.

You would have liquidity (access to money if needed) and perhaps most important FLEXIBILITY. To help your children with university fee’s, provide yourself a tax efficient income or just take the money whenever you needed it (after 5 years).

Like property, investments are not guaranteed although over the last 30 years they have well outperformed property. In the UK for example, property has achieved around 402% return in that time, compared to UK equities (stocks) which have achieved 1433% (dividend shares re-invested).

To summarise, Barcelona Property can be a very good investment, but nothing is guaranteed in life except death and taxes (Benjamin Franklin). You should have a ‘basket of investments/assets including property/investments’ if possible, that are well thought out giving you the freedom, flexibility and liquidity to provide income for you.

Why robots will never replace Investment Advice

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Investment Risk, Investments, Spain, wealth management
This article is published on: 7th June 2017

07.06.17

Particularly when markets are/have done well like recently, Stock picking (A situation in which an analyst or investor uses a systematic form of analysis to conclude that a particular stock will make a good investment and, therefore, should be added to his or her portfolio) is somewhat discredited these days, because low-cost passive fund managers argue that their tracker model delivers better value to savers by betting on an index, not individual companies.

And there is good argument to back it up

An article in The Wall Street Journal shows that between 1926 and 2015, just 30 different shares accounted for a remarkable one-third of the cumulative wealth generated by the whole market — from a total of 25,782 companies listed during that period. These statistics demonstrate that “superstocks” are what produce the true profits in the long run.

The research also calls into question the cult of equity, which has been followed by professional investors for more than 50 years. The experts argue that shares decisively outperform bonds and cash over time. But Bessembinder’s research shows that the returns from 96% of American shares would have been matched by fixed-interest instruments, which generally offer more security and liquidity, and suffer from lower volatility than stocks.

Spotting a business that can grow 10 or 20-fold over a period of years is a rare art

Of course, getting stock selection right is very difficult indeed when such a tiny proportion of shares contribute so much to total performance. It requires investors who are truly patient and at times extremely brave.

Amazon is one of the heavy hitters that delivered a quarter of all wealth creation in the stock market during the 90 years to 2015. Yet between 1999 and 2001, the online retailer’s shares fell by 95%. Many investors probably gave up then, and having been burnt once, shunned its 650-fold appreciation over the past 16 years.

While empirically that may appear to be correct, intuitively it feels questionable

Economies grow thanks to new technologies and entrepreneurs, who run a fairly small number of outstanding companies funded through private capital. Half the top 20 wealth creators referred to above are in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and computers. Identifying those sorts of promising industries is not too hard. But I do not believe there is a computer program — or robotic system — that can pinpoint the great achievers of the next 10 or 20 years.

Choosing the special businesses and executives that will create enormous value, and probably large numbers of jobs, is as much a creative undertaking as a scientific one.

Rigorous analysis must include a host of variables that artificial intelligence would struggle to understand — adaptability, trust, motivation, ruthlessness and so forth. I suspect all the best investors emphasise the importance of judging management when backing companies; I am not confident that computers can do that better than humans. In mature economies such as the UK, such sustained compound growth happens all too rarely.

To achieve it, a business should enjoy high returns on capital, strong cash generation, plentiful long-term expansion opportunities and a powerful franchise. And you need to buy the company at a sensible valuation. In a world awash with cash, such attractive businesses command very high prices. But if you believe the model can endure, they might be worth it.

Article written by Luke Johnson, who is chairman of Risk Capital Partners and the Institute of Cancer Research.
Sources: Bessembinder’s research and The Wall Street Journal

To read the article in full, click here:
Why a robot will never pick the superstocks of the tomorrow

A look at tax rates across Europe

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, BREXIT, Income Tax, Interest rates, Spain, Tax
This article is published on: 31st May 2017

31.05.17

In a recent article in the Guardian newspaper, Patrick Collinson examines how the average burden on British people earning £25,000, £40,000 and £100,000 compares with taxes paid by similar earners in Europe, Australia and the US.

Chris Burke from The SpectrumIFA Group in Barcelona calculated the figures for Spain and explains “homeowners also pay an annual tax on the value of their property, currently around €900 on a home valued at €300,000, so slightly less than typical council tax rates in the UK. However, he says that inheritance tax has shifted enormously in recent years, having been raised to 19% during the financial crisis but now starting at just 1%”.

Labour’s plan to tax incomes over £80,000 more heavily is a “massive tax hike for the middle classes” that will “take Britain back to the misery of the 1970s”, according to rightwing newspapers. But are British households that heavily taxed?

A comparison of personal tax rates across Europe, Australia and the US by Guardian Money reveals how average earners in Britain on salaries of £25,000, or “middle-class” individuals on £40,000, enjoy among the lowest personal tax rates of the advanced countries, while high earners on £100,000 see less of their income taken in tax than almost anywhere else in Europe.

The survey found that someone earning £100,000 in the UK in effect loses about 34.3% of their pay to HM Revenue & Customs once personal allowances, income tax and national insurance are taken into account. The one-third reduction is roughly the same as the US, Australia and Spain, but a long way behind the 38% in Germany, 41% in Ireland, 45% in Sweden and up to 59% in France (though the French figures include very large pension contributions).
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Note that these figures are a rough guide only. International tax comparisons are bedevilled by large numbers of factors. We compared rates for a single person with no children and with no special allowances. Most countries tax individuals rather than households, but France taxes couples, which has the impact of reducing the burden on a high earner with an at-home partner. Autonomous regions within countries impose their own varying taxes. We converted euros, dollars and krona into sterling at a time when the pound had fallen rapidly; some earnings might have translated into higher tax bands abroad before sterling plunged.

Some countries, such as the US, raise relatively large revenues from property taxes. Others squeeze revenue from sales taxes – 25% in Sweden, 19% in Germany. While there is some harmonisation of income tax rates, social security varies dramatically. Australia imposes a small medical levy of 2%. France’s charges can be as high as 30%.

One of the most striking facts to emerge is church taxes. In Germany, individuals are expected to give 8% of their income to the church.

EU officials may look forward to the day when the single currency is teamed up with a single tax policy. But what emerges from our survey is how elaborate each country’s tax and social security systems are. Britain’s actually looks relatively simple compared with France’s. The Brexit negotiations will be a walk in the park compared with any attempt to harmonise the EU’s 27 national tax and social security systems.

France

Gross salary £25,000
After tax £17,050
Tax rate 31.8%

Gross salary £40,000
After tax £23,520
Tax rate 41.2%

Gross salary £100,000
After tax £40,600
Tax rate 59.4%

Spain (Catalonia)

Gross salary £25,000
After tax £20,812
Tax rate 16.7%

Gross salary £40,000
After tax £31,000
Tax rate 22.1%

Gross salary £100,000
After tax £65,700
Tax rate 34.3%

Germany

Gross salary £25,000
After tax £18,923
Tax rate 24.3%

Gross salary £40,000
After tax £27,256
Tax rate 31.8%

Gross salary £100,000
After tax £61,740
Tax rate 38.3%

Sweden

Gross salary £25,000
After tax £19,500
Tax rate 22%

Gross salary £40,000
After tax £30,000
Tax rate 25%

Gross salary £100,000
After tax £55,000
Tax rate 45%

Ireland

Gross salary £25,000
After tax £21,183
Tax rate 15.3%

Gross salary £40,000
After tax £29,624
Tax rate 26%

Gross salary £100,000
After tax £59,000
Tax rate 41%

United Kingdom

Gross salary £25,000
After tax £20,279
Tax rate 18.9%

Gross salary £40,000
After tax £30,480
Tax rate 24.8%

Gross salary £100,000
After tax £65,780
Tax rate 34.3%

To read the full article please click here
First published Saturday 27 May 2017, author Patrick Collinson

Who would inherit your Assets if you die without a will?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Estate Planning, Inheritance Tax, Spain, Succession Planning, Wills
This article is published on: 26th May 2017

26.05.17

You might be surprised to know that 59%, that’s over half of UK adults, have not written a Will. And if you are over 55 there is a 36% chance you haven’t either. The main reason for this…….most people believe they are not wealthy enough to need a Will, or they are too young to make one. But what would happen to your assets if the worse did happen?

Is there a living husband, wife or civil partner?

If you are married, or have a civil partnership then it’s actually very straightforward and they would inherit your entire estate. But would you want that? And how about if by some awful miracle both of you departed this happy land, what would happen to your assets then? But let us put those to one side for now; imagine you have children, whom decide where they will be raised and who with? If you are living away from the UK this makes it even more complicated. If you don’t have a Will, you are leaving all of this to the authorities and not planning to protect yourself and your loved ones for the sake of a simple document.

Imagine you have a partner, but are not married and not in a civil partnership, would you be surprised to know they have no right to your assets? How would that affect them?
Let’s imagine, as more people these days are for various reasons not having children, that down the family line to Great Aunts/Uncles there is no one related to you. You might not be very happy to know that ‘The Crown? Inherits your assets, that is the Royal Family. In fact fewer people in the UK have Wills than a year ago.

Back in August 2015 the Wills laws changed in Europe, with the main different being you can CHOOSE which laws you wish your Will to follow. The choice is either your country of domicility (usually where you were born/hold a passport for) or the country you reside in now. If you are British most people choose the UK as the laws are easier, you have more control and less complex than those in Spain.

Find out here who would inherit your assets by clicking on this link:
www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will

To enquire about making a Will, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can arrange for you to talk this through with a Will writer so you know:

  • The process involved
  • The costs
  • How it works
  • There is no charge for this peace of mind

Sources:
HMRC website
*unbiased.co.uk research conducted by Opinium Research between 19 to 23 August 2016, among 2,000 nationally representative UK adults aged 18+

Spanish State Pension system about to go Bankrupt?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Pensions, Retirement, Spain
This article is published on: 4th April 2017

04.04.17

During 2017 or early in 2018, the Spanish State Pension system is due to run out of money. At one point, the reserve fund the government created for this was standing at 66 million Euros.
Why has this happened?
During the crisis, millions of jobs were lost, and with them, an almost parallel reduction in contributions to the Social Security. Furthermore, a large part of the new jobs are precarious – temporary, part-time or free-lance – and with low salaries. This means that contributions to the system are way below expectations and the minimum required for it to be able to meet outgoings with incomings.
While this has been happening, payments to retirees have been increasing. In the last 11 years the number of actual pensioners has increased by over a million (8.3 million up to 9.4 million). The average pension amount paid out has also increased, from €647 per month to €906 from 2006 to 2016. In 2007, 79 billion Euros was paid out in pensions, compared to 117 billion in 2016, an increase of 48%. In real terms, the annual deficit for the year is 19 billion Euros.
This issue of funding pensions is made even harder by the lack of people in employment. In many European countries it’s normal for 50% of the population to be in work, in Spain it’s only 40%.
Ideas on how to solve the problems being explored
These range from not putting a cap on contributions (this would generate more income in the short term, but mean more pensions payable in the long run). A more popular idea is to allow those people retired to still work and receive their entire pension, which would generate increased state contributions. Gaining more support is the change to stop those who are not contributing to the system to not receive state pensions/handout, such as widows and orphans. These would instead be funded from current tax revenues.
In essence Spain may have to look at what many other countries are changing, such as making people contribute for more years and lower percentages to effectively cut the average pension payments. As well as increasing Social Security contributions. But what does remain clear is, if you are ONLY relying on the state to fund your retirement, you could be looking at grave consequences.
To talk through what your retirement looks like, and what you can do to shape it, feel free to contact Chris.
(Source ‘The Corner’ Fernando Barciela)

The ABCs of Spanish taxation when investing in real estate in Spain

By Jonathan Goodman - Topics: Barcelona, Income Tax, Property, Spain, Tax, tax tips
This article is published on: 8th March 2017

08.03.17

For a long time, Spain has been considered a country of interest for real estate investors. It is a Western European country with many types of attractive properties available: residential, retail, offices, logistics, industrial, and more. And all this in a place that enjoys a stable legal system, over forty million consumers, and a great climate.

The Spanish tax system, however, is one of the most complex in the world. This being the case, it is essential to know the taxation associated to each of your investments in order to avoid surprises. We have written this guide as a quick introduction for first time investors. Nevertheless, you must consider it just an introduction since every property has its own peculiarities. We would be happy to help you make your investments a success.

This article was written by AvaLaw and first appeared on www.avalaw.es

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.