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State Pension Benefits

By John Lansley - Topics: EU Pension Transfer, France, Pensions, Retirement, State Pensions After BREXIT, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 22nd May 2020

22.05.20

If you have moved from one country to another, while it may be comparatively easy to obtain tax advice in order to help you plan your finances, it can be very difficult to find out how your State Retirement Pension will be affected, and this has become more uncertain as a result of Brexit. This article aims to shed some light on the issue

This article aims to shed some light on the issue.

I retired in the UK and moved abroad
Let’s start with something easy – if you have already retired and moved to Spain, France or another EU country, the chances are your only State Pension will be from the UK. With Brexit in mind, as long as you were legally resident in your new home country by the end of 2020, nothing will change, and you will be entitled to the annual pension uplift indefinitely.

Coupled to this is your entitlement to healthcare, in that you will have a form S1 from the UK, which ensures you benefit from full care on an ongoing basis, and which in effect will be paid for by the UK Government.

If you have already left the UK but have not yet reached formal retirement age, as long as you were ‘legal’ in your adopted home before the end of 2020, you will receive the UK State Pension at retirement age and qualify for annual increases. You will also be entitled to a form S1.

Note that, if you have not regularised your situation in your adopted home by the end of 2020, the situation is uncertain, to say the least. You will be entitled to claim the UK State Pension when you reach retirement age, but the uplifts are only due for 3 years and, most importantly, form S1 will not be available.

I left the UK 5 years ago at the age of 55 and have been self-employed in Spain for the last 5 years
Have you been making voluntary contributions to the UK scheme? Are you making contributions in Spain? If you haven’t already done so, obtain a pension forecast from HMRC – use the gov.uk website, sign up for the Government Gateway access service, and check your National Insurance Contribution records, as well as your UK tax records. You’ll have to apply to contribute, using form CF83 attached to the booklet NI38, Social Security Abroad.

You will then be told what pension you can expect at your retirement age, and you can also see how many incomplete contribution years you have. It is generally good advice to continue to make voluntary contributions after leaving the UK (currently £795.60pa), but if you are currently self-employed, you will only have to pay at the Class 2 rate, which is £158.60pa for the current year.

You’ll receive details of how to make up the shortfall, by bank transfer or cheque for past years, and by direct debit for the future if you wish to see payments taken automatically. Importantly, you can also call to obtain advice concerning whether it would be worthwhile doing this, and how additional payments will increase your pension entitlement – it might take a while to get through, especially due to the current Coronavirus lockdown, as it appears they are only dealing with those on the point of retiring, but you should find the staff helpful when you do.

Also, make sure you understand what your Spanish contributions entitle you to and try to obtain a projection of your future pension in Spain. This might prove difficult at present, with offices closed or providing limited services.

defined-benefit-pensions

Having worked in the UK, Italy and now in Spain, I want to claim my State Pension
The first thing to understand is that you should retire formally in the country you are currently living in, unless you haven’t made any pension

contributions there – in which case you apply to the last country in which you contributed.

So, in this case, you approach the Spanish authorities and will have to provide details of all your employment and self-employment history. Spain will then check with each country concerned (the EU-wide scheme ensures this is possible – work history outside the EU means you may have to apply individually to those countries) and will calculate your entitlement. (But bear in mind that Brexit may have had an impact on this in practice, even though the scheme should not be affected – very much ‘work in progress’).

They will do this by adding together the contribution years of each country and then applying this to their own pension rules. This means that, even if you don’t have the minimum number of years’ contributions in one country, the chances are that the contribution years in other countries will ensure you get a pro rata pension. Don’t forget, official retirement age can vary in different countries, and some state pensions are more generous than others.

Each country will then pay their share directly to you, and if you have continued paying into the UK system it’s likely you’ll end up with a much higher pension than might otherwise have been the case.

How is healthcare affected? Any other issues?
The good news is that receiving your pension locally will mean that your access to the local healthcare system comes with it – no need for a form S1. So, any attempts by the UK to remove themselves from the S1 scheme will not affect you.

Note that, although the UK state pension is paid regardless of your other income, the state pension in Spain is not, in that if you wish to continue to work, Spain will not pay anything to you.

10 TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR FINANCES

Other financial planning tips?
Despite the UK government’s attempts to water down the ability to ‘export’ your UK private pensions using the QROPS arrangements, this is still

possible – but perhaps won’t be for much longer. So, obtain advice about whether such a move would be beneficial, as soon as possible.

Any savings or capital you have should be invested tax-efficiently and with the aim of protecting it against both inflation and exchange rate fluctuations. Stock markets can fluctuate too, sometimes dramatically as we have seen, so be careful you understand the amount of risk your investments are exposed to, and seek help from a suitably qualified professional who will be able to help you over the long term.

Investing for the long term

By Andrea Glover - Topics: France, Investments
This article is published on: 1st May 2020

01.05.20

The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on our daily lives, but for many readers there is also an impact on their pension and investment funds due to extreme volatility in the financial markets and global economic disruption.

We asked Andrea Glover and Tony Delvalle from The Spectrum IFA Group about their thoughts on the current market conditions and the general reaction that they have seen from their own clients.

Andrea explained, “Financial markets don’t like bad news; the current coronavirus outbreak and the oil crisis that reared its head in early March are unfortunately no exception to that rule. We are all aware of the impact such events have on stock markets and although downturns are not unusual, they can be very unsettling. In these situations, it can be natural to consider taking some sort of action, but at times like this, often the best plan is to do nothing at all – particularly when you are investing for the longer term.”

Tony explained further, “It’s important to take a long term view when investing. An investment plan established during more settled times should not be abandoned when there is a market downturn. We keep up to date with the fund managers who are monitoring the markets to ensure the investments are protected as best they can be and grow over the longer term. In times like these, they focus on valuations, investment processes and look to buy more assets at attractive prices and with the appropriate risk for clients.”

Andrea went onto say, “No-one can say for sure how long this downturn will last, as we also have the US presidential elections and the end of the BREXIT transition period to come. We would be naive not to expect some further twists and turns in the short term, but we can look at what’s happened before when faced with global economic, social and political challenges. History tells us that the global stock markets weathered all of these well, with markets recovering over the longer term.”

Tony commented, “We have made sure that we have contacted every one of our clients during this time, to talk through the impact of the current situation. There has been a mixed reaction ranging from clients with further funds wanting to invest, in what they see as an opportune time, to other clients cancelling regular withdrawals so as not to compound any short-term losses. Each client has individual needs, aspirations and attitude to risk and it’s our role to understand this from the outset, as it is fundamental to the advice that we give.

stock-exchange

Andrea summarised, “As our clients invest over the longer term, we enjoy long term relationships with them and they have really appreciated the contact, as obviously communication is key in a time like this. It can really help clients through this unsettling period when, understandably, some will be nervous about their pensions and investments. It’s our fundamental responsibility to support our clients through this bumpy ride, providing them with the information and reassurance that they need. ”

Andrea and Tony are fully operational, working from home and are available for calls and video conference during the confinement period.

As featured in BUZZ

Health, Wealth and Happiness

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: Financial Review, France, Inheritance Tax, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 12th April 2020

12.04.20

During the current lockdown in France, I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of my clients wishing to review the beneficiaries of their investments. This could have been prompted by the daily depressing news of covid-19 deaths around the world, or it could simply be because of the extra time available to get their financial plans in order – working through the ‘to do’ lists.

Whatever the driver behind these reviews, it is a responsible part of financial planning to think about how and to whom you wish your investments to be distributed after your passing.

Inheritance planning is a key feature of the well documented ‘assurance vie’ in France – a simple and efficient investment vehicle available to French tax residents. In the next article I will remind you of the assurance vie benefits.

For the moment, I will focus on the title of this ezine. As a Financial Advisor, I am clearly not in a position to advise you on health matters. But as it happens, during this covid-19 confinement period, my own personal health has come under review! With the extra time I now have as I am not travelling to see my clients face to face, I have been able to spend 20 mins every morning exercising via an online personal coach. I will to continue this when normal life resumes.

I am, of course, able to help you with your wealth matters; and it does matter. Perhaps during this time of global lockdown, we can all reflect on our financial plans. Should I change my spending habits? Could I afford to retire earlier than planned? How can I stay financially motivated given the financial and economic forecasts? We can all lose focus from time to time, but it’s a financial adviser’s role to help you keep focused and to bring your financial plans back on track.

Please use your spare time constructively – why not contact me for a review, either over the telephone or via a video call. We will discuss many different areas such as life insurance, pensions, savings and investments, inheritance and wills, mortgages and education fees. We do not charge you a fee for our discussions, our follow up work, our regular reviews or our reports and you are under no obligation to follow our advice. Simply put, if you agree with my recommendations and I then arrange for you for example, an assurance vie or a pension, we are then remunerated by the companies we recommended.

When the daily news is worrying, it is understandable to get absorbed about the here and now impact. We are, after all, thinking about things like the latest restrictions, food shopping and how to keep the family occupied. However, when it comes to your financial plans, it is really important to stay focused on your key objectives.

I believe that if you have your health, an abundance of family and friends, a plan for your wealth then happiness will naturally follow.

To discuss further, please contact me on 06 62 50 70 21 or email Victoria.lewis@spectrum-ifa.com

Guardianship for your Children

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: Financial Planning, France, Succession Planning
This article is published on: 11th April 2020

11.04.20

Being the mother of two small children and the aunty of several more, like many parents, the issue arose quite early of what would happen to my children if something were to happen to my husband and I and what would happen to my sisters’ children should something happen to them. Whilst I don’t need to make a will from an inheritance tax point of view, because I have two children with the same father (my husband) and French law states that my half of our assets would go to my children as bare owners (nu propriétaire) and my husband as beneficiary (usufruitier), I do need to make a will regarding my wishes for my children’s guardian.

The first question is a personal one. Who, in your family or friends, would be best placed to be able to raise your children, in the country you want them to be raised in, in their language, in the way you want them to be raised? Do(es) this person(s) have children of their own? There are a range of different questions that are all particular to your situation. If you intend to appoint someone to be a guardian, then you should talk to them about it and maybe, if possible, talk to your children about it.

The second issue is the legal aspect. There are two ways to appoint a guardian in France. Firstly, you can appoint them in your will, or you could appoint them using a special declaration. Either way a notary needs to be involved. If no guardian is appointed by the parents, under aged children will be put under the protection of the court. A “Family council” will be appointed by the Guardianship Court (Juge des tutelles). This Family Council, made up of a minimum of 4 people, will have the responsibility of appointing a guardian (if one hasn’t already been appointed) who can be a member of the family or someone outside the family. Even if a guardian has been appointed but this person is unable to either adequately care for the child or properly manage the child’s assets, the matter can be referred to the court and another family member can chose another guardian.

If a child loses one parent then it is the other parent who will have parental responsibility. This parent can either care for the child themselves or appoint a guardian, who can be a member of the family or a close friend. If the parent is unable or incapable of looking after the child, then another guardian can be appointed by the court.

The third aspect is the financial aspect. If something were to happen, would the guardian have the financial means to look after the child(ren)? One thing you can do is make sure you have life insurance (called death insurance in France) which will pay out a lump sum and/or an annuity to the children for the rest of their childhood. Often when you purchase a house there is loan insurance that will cover some or part of the value of the house upon death of one or both parents. However, it may not be convenient or possible for the child to be raised in the family home and property as an asset is difficult to manage. Other liquid assets can be kept in bank accounts like Livret As or LLDs, but large lump sums (like the proceeds of a house or the lump sum from insurance upon death) should be placed in an assurance vie in order to protect it from inflation.

Luckily it is uncommon that a young child would lose one or both parents, but it is something that plays in the back of the mind of many parents so it is better having things in place to decide, who, how and with what means someone would look after your child in the best possible way.

Investments, what should I be doing?

By Philip Oxley - Topics: France, investment diversification, Investment Risk, Investments
This article is published on: 6th April 2020

06.04.20

What’s been happening?
It’s been a very turbulent period over the past few weeks as Coronavirus has taken hold and the impact on the financial markets has been almost unparalleled. Oil is now cheaper per litre than milk or bottled water due to an “oil war” between Russia and Saudi Arabia leading to an oversupply of oil in the markets. In addition, with fewer people on the roads and most airlines grounded, storage facilities are believed to be only months, possibly weeks away from full capacity. Some speculate that the price of oil could fall to zero! Those assets deemed to be “safe havens” such as gold have provided some refuge but it is still trading lower today than it was towards the end of February.

Most of the major financial markets experienced falls of c. 30% during the end of February and into March and whilst there has been some recovery, there remains much volatility and it’s not clear yet that the bottom of this dip has been reached.

Meanwhile, every day there is news of companies cutting or suspending dividend payments to shareholders and as I write this the UK’s major lenders have all agreed to scrap pay-outs to shareholders during 2020 (after receiving a strongly worded letter from the Prudential Regulation Authority). The banks are also being asked to scrap bonuses to their executives.

Why? Well, this should provide the banks with a much needed, extra £8bn cushion as they face increased demands to provide financial support to individuals and businesses in the form of loans, mortgage holidays etc.

What should you be doing?
For those who are close to retirement age, I cannot overstate the importance of speaking to your financial advisor during these challenging times. Essentially, the closer you are to needing to draw a pension or access your investments, the bigger the impact this drop in the markets will have for you.

For those of working age with a pension scheme or schemes and/or savings invested in the markets what actions can you take? Fund managers have been working hard to mitigate the extreme movements in the markets and protect the value of the funds they manage, but there is no escaping that a significant “correction” has taken place. For those of you brave enough to look at the value of your pension fund/s, most will be facing a reduction in value in the region of 10-25%.

It is impossible to say that there will not be further falls, however history has shown that pulling your money out now (where this is an option) or re-calibrating your portfolio by moving out of equities and into bonds, gold, cash etc. is rarely the best course of action. Typically, these decisions are taken too late (when many of the falls in value have already taken place) and re-entry into the markets is typically made too late (missing out on some of the gains that will have already taken place). The result of this is to lock in the losses that have taken place. Remember, these are only paper losses at this stage, albeit painful to bear – and it is only once you move out of the assets or remove cash that a loss will be realised. Whilst it takes a steely resolve and not a little anxiety, it is nearly always better to stay invested and ride out the storm.

It is certainly a good time to review the balance of your investments in your pension scheme or Assurance Vie to ensure they still match your risk profile. But be careful about disproportionately moving out of equities at this stage, as this may hinder the growth of your portfolio as the markets return to growth.

What next?
Markets will recover as they have always have (think 2008 Financial Crisis or “Black Monday” in 1987) – it’s simply a case of when and there could be more volatility over the coming months before we see this happen. There are some early signs of green shoots in Asian markets, for example, factory data from China showing a sharp step up in activity in March.

But the news from many European counties and the US is grim. Most developed nations, and many others besides, will experience a sharp and deep recession. The hope remains that the decline in growth will be “V” shaped as opposed to “U” shaped, meaning the recession will be short-lived and the recovery quick and significant. This is not guaranteed however, and the length of the downturn will depend on many factors, perhaps the greatest being the spread and extent of Coronavirus cases over the coming months and the speed and size of response from governments and central banks.

So, is it a good time to invest? Possibly, but with caution and perhaps a “drip-feed” rather than an “all-in” approach. And as always, it’s better to have a financial advisor working alongside you to provide professional guidance in these matters.

Finally
On a personal note, apart from when I am out meeting clients, most of the time I work from home – from the end of our dining room table which is in a quiet room during the day. I occasionally remind my teenage children to be quiet at the times they are at home, particularly if I am on the phone speaking with a client. Yesterday, my 13 year old son, stuck his head around the door and said, “Could you guys keep the noise down please?“ My wife and I were discussing the challenges of on-line food shopping and he was in the next room on a live streamed lesson, so his request was perfectly reasonable. But times have certainly changed!

The coming months are going to be very challenging for us all. We are seeing the consequences of Coronavirus both in terms of the restrictions we all have on our way of life and more devastatingly on the lives lost across so many countries. At this time, the overriding focus for us all must be on the welfare and safety of ourselves, family, friends and neighbours. In addition, on top of these concerns, many people will become stretched financially.

As the French-born Etienne de Grellet said, “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now”.

There’s never been a more important time to speak with your IFA

By Alan Watson - Topics: Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 24th March 2020

24.03.20

I have a routine I have followed for many years. Every day, after walking the dog and eating breakfast, I get up to date on the markets, currency movements and global financial news. CNBC is my favourite, but things are changing and I now find it harder to concentrate with the worrying growth of people contracting COVID-19. It gets worse by the day. Northern Italy is barely three hours’ drive away which is nothing for today’s connected planet. But the tempting solution of ‘Bury your head in the sand; it will go away, it always does’, could cost a great deal in our current global situation. The answer is to take action and deal with it.

Over the past week, I have spoken via telephone and Skype with many of my clients. All of the conversations were intense and based around worries about what will happen next. Clearly, the need to protect what you have built up over the years and prepare for a potentially uncertain future is paramount.

One client quizzed me over the pros and cons of buying property in Lyon; we got into a deep conversation analysing all aspects, from the French property purchase costs to the insurance quotes (some were just too high; one was clearly sensible and produced by somebody who knew their business).

skype

Another Skype meeting demanded the analysis of the greatest market crashes, discussing the question, ‘Could we now be at the bottom?’. This client wanted not only the potential to buy into a rather cheap market, but also to gain the benefits of doing this via the French Assurance Vie: discounted markets plus serious tax advantages.

Other calls were long and varied in content, but all focused around ‘what if’ questions. Good old Brexit still keeps raising doubts and concerns and I always enjoy explaining how we have been confidently prepared for this roller coaster for years. We only deal with large and secure internationally minded companies who made their preparations years ago. Brexit is not and should not be a point of worry for Spectrum clients; flexibility is always our primary tactic.

Many of us are now sitting at home; working, but getting a little bored. I would suggest this is an ideal time to talk, to discuss everything, get your worries off your chest. Preparation reduces stress; this is what we do – and if last week’s conversations are anything to go by, I believe I did a pretty good job. If you would like to chat, contact me to arrange a call with the details below.

The luxury of your own local financial adviser

By Alan Watson - Topics: Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 17th March 2020

17.03.20

To say we are living in volatile times could be somewhat of an understatement. The French stock market, the CAC 40, experienced its largest ever one day fall last week, over 12% in just one trading day!

The market crash in October 1987 was severe, the dot-com boom and bust caused great misery, a global banking crisis in 2008 even caused the mighty Lehmans to fall. Why am I reciting this? Because, like most of my colleagues, I witnessed all of these events.

Covid-19 now appears to be at its most prevalent exactly where all Spectrum advisers work: Europe. The French Prime Minister has declared that all non-essential shops, offices, cinemas and restaurants should now close, and as I write this my mind wonders about the next weeks’ market activities, especially as traders and brokers will most likely decide to work from home. We have a very long climb to recover from the exceptional falls of late.

When I make initial telephone contact with a person who has requested information from our website, or maybe a personal referral, or interest from our advertising, it quite often happens that they appear surprised just how local I am, “Oh, so you’re not based in London, you live in Chambery? But that’s so close, you must be a keen skier,” and this opens up a very important conversation, mainly because the person on the other end of the phone has rarely spoken with a financial professional who has 25 years of experience in this region of France. At this stage the conversation explodes, “Where did your children go to school? Can you suggest a good one? Do you know a good company to insure my car with? How do you start to build a pension in France?” The questions are many, and I consider it my personal duty to assist, after all what is all the experience worth if you cannot help your fellow expatriates?

In the last few days such local contact has taken on a whole new meaning, “Could we meet up soon? I need to decide on my new fiscal residence, the UK tax year is so close, but due to Brexit my old UK adviser cannot help me.” Or, “I have so many UK based investments, they are all severely beaten down, but the phone lines are blocked, nobody can update me, and the annual statement is eight months away.”

And this is what Spectrum is all about; we, the advisers who live close to you, all have not only many years behind us in financial services, but equally importantly have lived, worked and paid taxes and social charges in France for many years. We know how the system works, the good and the not so good bits. We know the better accountants, the real ones who actually work for you, the client, not administrators/book keepers who collect for the system. We are supported by some of the world’s best investment houses, insurance companies and trust companies. Our knowledge is vast, and often a short car trip from your home or office. There is no cost or commitment in meeting up for an initial discussion, but the luxury of having so much available experience on your own doorstep, and in your own language, makes us a unique financial services company locally.

The concern currently is real, the media has caused Europe to panic (I just tried shopping with my wife, high stress levels everywhere). We are close, capable and can at least put your mind at rest during these testing times.

Try us, you will be amazed how quickly we respond, arrange a meeting and help to guide you through this rather bizarre period.

What to do with investments in a bear market?

By Victoria Lewis - Topics: France, Investments, Stock Markets
This article is published on: 16th March 2020

16.03.20

What a week of political, medical and financial news! Daily market commentary from asset managers, daily messages from my daughter’s school (all students’ temperatures have been taken daily on arrival for the last 2 weeks) and my stock market app has been flashing red, green, red and more red. Let’s see what today brings.

If the stock-market decline triggered by the coronavirus outbreak and the oil price slump is like past drops, there’s both good and bad news.

After a long (largely uninterrupted) run of share price appreciation since 2009, one of the longest bull markets in history, we have now entered a bear market, broadly defined as a 20% drop from recent highs.

Goldman Sachs pointed out that this week that we have never before entered a bear market because of a viral outbreak but that it may be useful to consider the history of bear markets to get a sense of their duration and intensity. There are different types of bear markets which can be described as follows (statistics from GS who analysed bear markets going back to 1835).

Structural bear markets are those created by imbalances and financial bubbles, very often followed by a price shock like deflation. Structural bear markets, on average, experience drops of 57%.

Cyclical bear markets are typically a function of the economic cycle, marked by rising interest rates, impending recessions and falls in profits. Cyclical bear markets experience drops of 31%.

Event driven bear market refers to things like a war, oil price shock or an emerging-market crisis. On average, this type of bear market results in 29% declines. The current crisis is event driven. Monetary response by central banks should be effective but time will tell. However, this is a new territory: an environment of fear where consumers are forced, or just inclined, to stay at home.

The good news is that bear markets triggered by exogenous shocks typically regain their previous levels within 15 months.

Whatever your view is on the markets, my advice is don’t try to predict the future. A recovery is inevitable and we trust professionals to skilfully manage our clients’ funds. We sometimes respond emotionally to stock market decline and volatility, but there is usually no merit in either reacting to, or trying to forecast, short term market events.

Don’t delay your financial plans. For planning, yesterday is better than today, which is better than tomorrow. Contact me, Victoria Lewis, if you want to discuss how you should react to these events.

Being prepared for BREXIT in France

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: BREXIT, France, Pensions, QROPS, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 11th March 2020

11.03.20

On 31st January 2020, the UK left the EU. However, the real effects of Brexit, for those of us living in France, will not properly be felt until after the 31st December 2020 (what an interesting New Year’s Eve that will be!) and thereafter. Hopefully, by that time we will have a clearer idea of what our rights and responsibilities are. Until then there will still be much speculation and media noise, which may be just as confusing as it has been over the past four years.

One thing Brexit has established, from the very beginning, is that British citizens living in France, or planning to settle in France, need to get their affairs in order and decide where they would like to live for the foreseeable future. As British citizens we can always return to the UK if we so choose, but if we want to continue to live in France we must show that we have lived here continuously for the last five years or that we intend to continue living here in future.

The next few months are going to be very interesting and it is more than ever important for British citizens to consider some important financial changes.

Pensions after Brexit
In 2006, the UK introduced a law making it possible for UK private pension benefits to be transferred to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), provided that the overseas scheme meets certain qualifying conditions.

For those pensions that can be transferred there are many benefits including:

  • No obligation to purchase an insurance company annuity, at any time
  • The potential to pass on the member’s remaining pension assets to nominated beneficiaries on death with minimal or no death duty payable. By comparison, currently a tax charge at the beneficiary’s marginal rate can be applied in the UK, where the member is over age 75 at death
  • A wider choice of acceptable investments offered, compared to UK pension plans
  • The underlying investments and income payments can be denominated in a choice of currencies, which can potentially reduce exchange rate risk
  • Potential to receive a larger amount of Pension Commencement Lump Sum compared to UK schemes
  • Depending upon the jurisdiction where the QROPS is set up, income payments may be made without the deduction of local taxes, meaning that income will only be taxed in accordance with the law of the jurisdiction where the member is resident

In 2017 the UK government announced its intention to introduce a new 25% Overseas Transfer Charge (OTC) on QROPS transfers taking place on or after 9th March 2017. This charge does not, however, apply where the QROPS is in the European Union (EU) or EEA and the member is also resident in an EU or EEA country (not necessarily the same EU or EEA country) and remains EU or EEA resident for the next five full UK tax years.

Many of those who work in the industry believe that after the transition period, it may no longer be possible for British citizens to transfer their pensions into an EU QROPS without incurring the 25% charge.

QROPS may not be suitable for everyone and much will depend upon the nature of the UK pension benefits being considered for transfer, as well as the person’s attitude to investment risk. Transferring a pension to a QROPS is not a decision that should be taken lightly nor in haste and proper financial advice with an experienced adviser is essential. Even when the decision has been made to transfer the pension it may take a good few months to complete, which is why, if you are even considering this possibility, it is important to contact a local adviser to explore what your options are.

Taxes after Brexit
As tax between the UK and France is determined by the Double Tax Treaty, this will not be affected by the fact that the UK has left the EU. However, whilst not directly taxed, a lot of UK income, such as UK rental income, is added to the taxable base and increases the tax margin of the French taxpayer. If you intend to live in France, you may want to consider whether it is really in your interest to hold onto UK assets.

It is possible to protect your capital investments in France and ensure that they can grow in a tax efficient environment by way of an Assurance Vie policy. French Assurance Vies or French approved foreign Assurance Vies offer valuable benefits when it comes to income tax, inheritance tax and estate planning. Foreign portfolios and bonds are not treated as Assurance Vies and any gain is subject to tax and social charges irrespective of whether this income is taken or whether it is brought into France. If you are French tax resident, you are taxable on your worldwide income in France. Proving that you are French tax resident will be an important factor for establishing the Right to Remain in France.

Being resident in France does not necessarily mean that all your assets have to be in France or have to be in euros. There are many opportunities for holding sterling based diversified portfolios in a tax efficient manner.
For anyone intending to live in France for the foreseeable future, be aware that today’s valuable financial planning opportunities are unlikely to remain beyond the short term (31st December 2020 could be an important date in this respect). Contact me, Katriona Murray, and I will be happy to arrange a meeting.

Do I need to declare my UK bank accounts?

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: France, UK bank accounts
This article is published on: 10th March 2020

10.03.20

Yes, you do. In a drive to reduce tax evasion and ensure transparency as to where money comes from, banks are now required to share details of overseas accounts, if asked by another country’s tax authorities.

All UK bank and savings accounts need to be declared on your French Tax return. You also need to declare if you have opened or closed any accounts during the last tax year.

Any interest that you have received on these accounts must also be declared. The penalties if you are found to have not declared accounts are very stiff, at up to €1500 per account.

In France, there are tax efficient savings accounts called Livret A and you can save up to €22,950 per person. The interest is not subject to French income tax or social charges and it is a perfect account for an emergency fund because you have access to this savings account without a notice period. For money that you can put aside for a longer period, it is worth getting in touch with me to discuss whether an Assurance Vie would be suitable for your needs.

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