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Tax & Pensions in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, pension transfer, Pensions, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 27th September 2021

27.09.21

Well, another summer has passed and contrary to my previous article I have decided not to become a communist, not that I think there was ever any chance of it happening anyway. Being a financial adviser pretty much excluded me from the start.

Anyway, as the hot days roll on here in Rome and the fresher ones will start soon, I was thinking how I could get started on some more serious topics of finances for residents in Italy. One thing I have come up against this summer on a number of occasions has been the subject of personal private pensions, and how they are treated for taxation, so I thought it might be a good idea to explore the different types of personal pensions which are in existence in the EU, which type Italy uses and what we can learn to help us understand the taxation of such a financial product in Italy.

Tax in Italy

EET, ETT, or TTE?
This subject can get complex, but every so often it’s good to delve in and try to make some sense of it. The main problem is that throughout the world, and even between European states, different models of taxation are applied to the different models of personal private pensions that exist. Italy has adopted one of these models, which in itself is no problem, but when we, as foreigners, move to Italy we may find that our existing private pension plans don’t fit into the same model as the Italian one. In most cases our commercialista has the ‘enviable’ job of choosing how to apply the Italian way to our scheme. It’s a bit like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

So what are the main models? As the title of this paragraph alluded to, there are three main models used which go under the monikers: EET, ETT and TTE.

What do these stand for?
The initials mean the following:

EET: Exempt, exempt, taxation. (The majority of EU member states adopt this approach, including the UK)
ETT: Exempt, taxation, taxation. (Italy, Sweden and Denmark adopt this model)
TEE: Taxation, taxation, exempt. (This used by Hungary and Luxembourg)

**The US also falls in the EET system**

As you might have guessed, the ‘exempt’ and ‘taxation’ tags refer to the point at which taxation is applied to the monies in your private personal pension. So, the first tag refers to the point at which the contribution is made into the pension fund (monthly or lump sum payments are treated equally), the second tag refers to the money when it is invested and accumulating within the pension (capital gains and income generated from the invested funds) and the third is the point at which one goes into retirement and starts to receive payments from it (the actual pension payment). Clear as mud? Let’s continue…

Pensions in Italy

The EET model
The UK, US and many other EU member states apply the EET model (exempt, exempt, taxation), and it is my favourite model! I think it is the easiest to understand and the fairest model. I also expect that this model may also be adopted (or phased in) by Italy as part of Mario Draghi’s big tax shake up, for which we are still waiting for details (end October is the latest news).

Fundamentally, a model which allows someone to accumulate funds in a tax efficient environment throughout their working life and then be taxed at normal tax rates when they eventually come to take that money back, would seem to be the easiest and fairest way to allow individuals to accumulate as quickly and efficiently as possible. It also incentivises people to want to make more contributions into these types of savings plans for their future.

The ETT model
However, our beloved country of residence, Italy, adopts the ETT (exempt, taxation, taxation) model. Interestingly, the other two countries which adopt this model in Europe are Sweden and Denmark. I don’t think I need to point out the significant difference between the social security systems of Denmark and Sweden versus Italy, but it merely highlights the fact that Italy remains a higher taxing EU state. That being said, I love Italy, as I know a lot of you do, and it deserves much more than an critical look at its taxation system. The fact that the fund is taxed in addition to the pension payments on retirement means that their model doesn’t complement sufficiently the lower benefit payments on offer from the state through the contributi scheme, previdenza complementare’ and is not a great attraction for savers for retirement. However, you need not take my word for it. Between Italian workers, private individuals and public scheme employees, only 25% contribute to a separate private pension scheme to top up their existing benefits from the state. That figure is well below the EU average!

That low number might be due to the fact that between the low tax benefit (a maximum deduction against tax of only €5164.57 per annum), the rates of tax applied to the fund itself (between 20% and 26% depending on which fund you hold your private pension with), the restrictive ranges of investment options and the higher charges, then it comes as no surprise that not enough people are choosing to top up their pension with a private arrangement, but are more likely to buy property or find other ways of supplementing their retirement income, assuming they have surplus income after the state has taken their contribution for the state related pension.

There is, however, one advantage. The monies when received as an income payment in retirement attract a tax rate of 15% and can fall to 9% if you have contributed for 35 years to a previdenza complementare. This additional benefit stills fails to be attractive enough for people to save in this way for their future, probably because the benefit is too far in the future for many people to even consider when they have more pressing financial needs today, which brings us back to the point that the incentive for people to save today needs to correspond to a benefit received today i.e. a tax break on contributions, or no tax on the invested fund.

tax in italy

So what does this mean for the taxation of your non-Italian pension
As you might imagine it’s not as simple as saying that a personal pension that you own from one country will be considered the same, for tax purposes, as an Italian private pension (previdenza complementare).

The complexity lies in the fact that because Italy cannot analyse every different type of pension in the world, it is impossible for them to legislate for each one as well. Therefore, we have to use some logical thinking, but even that may be interpreted differently by the tax authorities in Italy.

At this point you might want to take a moment’s silence for your commercialista whose job it is to make that interpretation and on whose shoulders, ultimately, that decision lands. Although it is unfair to say that they don’t have any information to hand, because one client, whose commercialista was clearly on the ball, alerted her to an ‘Istanza di Interpello’ dated 27th May 2020, (click HERE, basically it is an opinion provided by the Agenzia delle Entrate on a specific case presented by a specific individual). This interpello went some way to explaining the thinking of the Agenzia behind the taxation of pensions which fall into the EET model (exempt, exempt, taxation). The ‘opinion’ was based on a UK pension.

Taxation on accumulation or not?
What it all seems to boil down to is how the pension is taxed during the accumulation phase. Italy taxes the fund during this phase but gives a preferential tax rate when the monies are drawdown. A UK pension, for example, is not taxed during the accumulation phase, but then drawdowns are taxed at regular income tax rates. So, going back to the logical thinking approach, if someone moves to Italy with a UK pension, it doesn’t make sense that they would benefit from tax efficient growth in the fund AND be provided with a preferential tax rate on drawdown. That would constitute a double tax benefit, which I doubt the tax authorities would approve of.

It doesn’t matter what you or I think!
The interesting point here is that even with all this information and supposition, the reality is that your commercialista can still choose to apply any method of taxation that falls in any of the different models because the legislation doesn’t exist to do otherwise. Therefore, the best you can do is to take a guess.

Attention, however, because the Interpello from 27th May 2020 gives a pretty good outline into the thinking of the Agenzia regarding the EET model, in that when payments are taken they should be taxed at income tax rates, not the 15% preferential tax rate. If you are advised to, or you choose to apply the 15% preferential tax model, there is always the chance that the Ageniza could come looking at some point in the future. It’s highly unlikely given the circumstances, (in my opinion), but not beyond imagination.

Given the complexity around pensions it comes as no surprise that it is often easier to bury one’s head in the sand rather than checking exactly what you have and how it should be declared. If you have any doubts then you can always contact me for a free no-obligation analysis of your situation. It is a part of the overall service package that I provide to clients and others looking to regularise their pensions arrangements in Italy. For clients, I also liaise with their commercialista directly to clarify their current choices and determine if anything should be done differently.

Qualifying Recognised Overseas
Pension Scheme

Staying on the subject of pensions
For anyone who is intending on living away from the UK permanently, we have over recent years been helping clients review existing UK private pension arrangements to determine whether a QROPS transfer may be appropriate. This is a type of overseas pension, which operates like a UK private pension plan, is always domiciled in Europe for EU resident individuals and is operated under an EU framework of compliance and oversight.

Since the UK’s exit from the EU we have been wondering whether the UK would stop the possibility to move pension monies from the UK into the EU to slow money flows out of the country, out of spite or any other number of reasons relating to the future relationship with the EU. To date this has not happened, but could be announced in any UK budget. (the next budget has been announced for the 27th October 2021).

There are potential tax consequences of having a UK pension plan which is now no longer ‘harmonised’ with EU legislation and there could be adverse tax consequences in the future. In addition, moving pensions to QROPS is considered removing a tie to the UK for anyone looking to remove UK domicile for inheritance tax purposes. Therefore, if you have a private personal pension arrangement that you are waiting to receive benefits from and /or drawing down from, I can offer a free analysis of the benefits of transferring it away from the UK.

Moving to Italy

Superbonus 110% – discussions on the beach

There is a lot of discussion going around at the moment about the Superbonus 110% that the Italian government is offering to bring your property into the eco-friendly age. I won’t go into details because it’s so complex that I am totally lost with the whole affair. However, I did happen to have some discussions on the beach this summer with an Italian gentleman of 73 years of age. He is a practising architect in Milan and has built buildings all over Italy. I struck up a conversation on the subject of the 110% Superbonus and how his company was coping with the bureaucracy. I was a bit taken aback by his answer that they had made a decision not get involved, at all.

His view was that the process of attaining permissions and subsequent documenting of the process is so incredibly complex and time consuming that the professionals involved in the process are forced to increase their fees substantially just to cover the cost of work and /or monitoring and reporting. He also explained that because ultimate responsibility for the Superbonus 110% will fall on the shoulders of the professional following the process, that their insurance risk against the Agenzia delle Entrate poking around in the future, and finding faults in the documentation is so high that they would have to increase their fees substantially to compensate for that risk.

This architect said that he had been talking to other firms in Milan who were charging significant fees, and that in total, between architects, geometre, and builders, costs could spiral to 40% of the amount claimed for the work.

Now, I am no expert on this particular area and I am sure that there are some of you reading this who will be able to pull this logic apart, but my point is that if you are looking at significant renovation work through the use of the Superbonus 110%, then make sure you check the small print and the costs. Remember that in addition to the costs of following the work, building material prices have sky rocketed due to Covid and continue to rise. What is claimed from the Agenzia delle Entrate may be less than the cost of work if these costs continue to rise.

Ultimately, it is the client who pays the fees and so my advice is just check that the NET amounts claimed from the Agenzia delle Entrate will cover the cost of your work and you are not going to be left with half finished properties.

And on that happy note, I will leave it for this E-zine. Life is slowly returning to normal after the long hot summer and it will shortly be time to be putting on those thick woolly socks again and wrapping up tight for the winter. In the meantime, if anything in this E-zine has piqued your interest, or you would just like to review your financial plans for life in Italy then please do get in touch on gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com or send me a message/call on +39 333 649 2356

Top three financial tips for expats living in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Financial Planning, Inflation, Pensions, Spain, Tax in Spain
This article is published on: 22nd July 2021

22.07.21
Chris Burke | Spectrum IFA Barcelona

Hola

This month we are covering the following Hot Topics:

  • UK financial advisers are not legally able to advise EU based clients anymore
  • The important ‘rule of 72’ for investing
  • Spanish state pension inflation worry

UK investments & pension law changes
Many UK based financial advisers can no longer legally look after anyone resident in Spain or the EU due to Brexit legislation, most having already written to their clients informing them of this. However, it’s not all bad news; most UK based investments including ISAs are not tax efficient in Spain/EU, with many having to be declared annually and tax paid on any gains, EVEN if you don’t access the money. This does depend completely on your circumstances and I help people analyse their personal situation, managing their UK assets or arranging for them to become Spanish compliant moving forward.

For those with UK private pensions in drawdown, every few years to receive this money you must have a UK accountant rubber stamp this to continue. So again, you will need to find someone locally to do this for you, which we can help with.

If you have any questions or need help in respect of UK based assets, please get in touch for a free, no obligation chat/review of your situation.

Tax in Spain and the UK

The rule of 72 and poor performing investments
Implementing an investment strategy is not where your investment plan finishes; it is where it begins. Without regular reviews and maintenance there is a strong risk you will finish up with much less than you should have had. Many financial advisors here in Spain are mainly remunerated when taking on a new client, not on the performance of their investment. This is where I/Spectrum differ.

One of the many key aspects of investing is to keep a keen eye on the ‘rule of 72’, which is knowing how long before your money should double in its value. To work out the ‘rule of 72’ for your investment you use the following simple formula: divide the number 72 by the average annual interest you are receiving/likely to receive and it will tell you how many years it would take for you to double your money. So, for example, if you were averaging 4% interest per year it would take around 18 years (72/4 = 18 years), at 5% around 14 years and 6% around 12 years. To put that into a real-life scenario, if we use a starting point of €100,000 and invested over a 25 year period this amount of money would give you:

  • 4% €266,583
  • 5% €338,635
  • 6% €429,187

To put that into context, historically inflation makes your costs double every 24 years, so if your money is not well ahead of that, in real terms your monies are just keeping their present value.

Therefore, it’s imperative you really are seeing your investments growing and working for you. If they are not, I suggest you seek a second opinion and find out how you can have these optimised, because it will make a big difference to you further down the line. The main reasons for investments failing are high maintenance costs and investments that give the financial adviser a ‘kickback’. Many people don’t always understand why their investment funds are growing but their portfolio isn’t as much, and this is usually a starting point to look at.

I work in a different way, making sure it also works for the client by not using this method, but on a transparent fee basis using the best investments & platforms for the clients; not using investment funds that give the adviser more commissions, in essence.

inflation

Spanish state pension inflation worry
Back in 2011, Spain used to have a surplus state pension fund of €66 billion. This could be looked at as ‘well, at least they had a surplus; most countries have never had one’. Just before Covid started in 2019, it was €16 billion in debt. Now the state pension system, like many others, works on the principle that current workers pay for those who are retired now. The key point here is, from a percentage perspective, Spain, compared to others in the EU, has one of the highest proportions of its GDP (total country income) contributed to its state pension, at around 12%. The average ‘replacement rate’, which is the percentage of workers final salary income that they receive in retirement, was at 72% in 2019*, whereas the average in Europe is 45%. They receive, as a percentage, much more on average for their state pension compared to their earnings than their European counterparts. This is great on one hand, however this really is a great burden on Spain to provide that level of state pension to the people.

The only way Spain can carry on providing state pensions is to “increase the retirement age even higher and decrease the amount people receive” says Concepcion Patxot Cardoner, a University of Barcelona professor, as quoted by Bloomberg. That and start to move people towards saving into their own private pensions. However, this last option and the main plan moving forward is going to be difficult to achieve in a culture where only around 26% currently save into a private pension. Compare that to the UK where the latest survey showed 65% of people contribute.

If you also take into account Spain’s tourist industry (before Covid), which is the second largest in the world employing about 2 million people and accounting for about 11 percent of the country’s GDP, you can see that things are going to need to change drastically to balance the books given the current crisis.

What does all this mean? Well, to you and I, it’s even more important that we have a plan in place, whatever that is, to make sure we have provision in retirement. I am here to talk through this with you, using professional analytics tools to help take one of the most important planning aspects of your life and break it down, step by step, making it:

  • Specific to you
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Targeted

If you would like to talk through your situation with someone consultative and knowledgeable, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Spring cleaning your finances

By Claire Cammack - Topics: Financial Review, France, Pensions, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 22nd April 2021

22.04.21

“When the dust settles on Brexit!” has been heard many, many times over recent months and even the last couple of years. But what of it? With the UK and some former EU partners enduring a bitter relationship, and the UK’s Prime Minister seemingly giving free rein to his ministers, it is difficult for many to see a clear direction. Though a clear direction is coming, according to the financial expert sector – and it may not be welcomed by expatriates! Generally, it is accepted that the UK will introduce hard measures to hang onto funds and to introduce punitive tax penalties for those funds that leave the kingdom.

Brexit seems to be “done and dusted”, yet where are we all? The global pandemic has clouded the issue but has forcibly created time for us to tackle the things that had been put off for too long. So what better time for a spring clean in your financial affairs.

Pensions will be hit first, according to the experts, then lump sum investments, if not simultaneously. It will not only be the UK taking measures. France, particularly, will be looking to gather what they can from expatriates living in France. 

Pensions health check

You don’t have to sit back and wait for governments to take action – and endure stress in the process! There are actions that you can take now and the first is to book a financial review with your Spectrum adviser who has a wealth of experience and resources available and at your disposal. We can quickly identify opportunities to bring your finances under your control and maximise investment and tax efficiency.

It’s not too late to act now to firm up your overall living status and ensure that all is in apple pie order for your peace of mind. Contact your Spectrum adviser for an expert appraisal of your situation.

Your Expat Guide to Pension Planning

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Luxembourg, pension transfer, Pensions, QROPS, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 4th March 2021

04.03.21

Are you planning on retiring in France or Luxembourg but have a pension in the UK?

Look no further than this article as we guide you through your options. Pensions are a pinnacle part of your retirement plan but can be a complex topic for British expatriates with rules frequently changing, so always consult with your financial adviser when deciding which plan best suits your needs.

First off, you can leave your pension as is in your existing UK pension scheme if you want. However, with the Brexit decision, you should check with your UK financial adviser and make sure they can still support you. If you want to move your funds to an international pension plan, then your best options may be opening a QROPS or SIPP account.

QROPS (Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme) allows foreign nationals who have worked in Britain to transfer their UK pensions overseas.

  • Expatriates can avoid various restrictions imposed by the UK when taking retirement benefits
  • HMRC allows individuals to access 100% their pension fund after the age of 55. However, it may not be advisable to do so as it can result in higher taxes on withdrawals. It is potentially better to draw the funds periodically in a more tax-efficient manner
  • There’s no compulsory annuity purchase
  • Reduction in currency risk because QROPS allows you to invest and take benefits in a currency of your choice
  • QROPS gives you more freedom to select a portfolio suited to your needs because it offers a more extensive range of investment options

SIPP (International Self-Invested Personal Pension) enables someone access to greater investment choices because it is a personal pension plan based on making your own decisions. However, the pension structure is based in the UK so it’s subject to any legislative changes made by the UK government.

Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • An international SIPP can provide a regular or variable income
  • No obligation to purchase an annuity
  • They provide greater flexibility regarding investments, tax benefits, and currency choices
  • Ideal way to consolidate various personal pensions, which reduces administrative complications
  • If you plan on moving back to the UK this option may be most suitable for you
moving-to-france
moving-to-luxembourg

You can also try a combination between both UK and international pension plans. The main objective is to arrange your retirement in a manner where you can access your finances when you want, where you want, and in the currency of your choice. Overall, there are many things to consider when choosing your pension plan, so be sure to do your research and understand your different options before making any decisions.

It is in your best interest to act now when planning your pension scheme, so touch base with your financial adviser today to discuss your options.

Claiming your UK State Pension whilst living in Spain/EEA

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 16th February 2021

16.02.21

Perhaps the most common questions I have been receiving since Brexit was agreed are in respect of UK State Pensions, particularly how it will work moving forward having contributed to the UK social security pension system:

  • What is my entitlement and how will UK nationals be able to claim their state pensions moving forward after Brexit?
  • What age can I start claiming (different EU countries have different age limits)?
  • How are these state pension calculations achieved?

Well, this should give you some clarity
First things first, to receive a Spanish state pension, you need at least 15 contributing years (combined years from any EU country) to be entitled to a minimum pension which will amount to 50% of the ´base reguladora´ (for Autonomos) or minimum state pension for employees, based on your past wages. At least 2 contributing years need to be within the period of 15 years leading up to your legal pension age. If you do not qualify for this, you should go directly to each country you have contributed to previously and see if you qualify from them.

Before the UK joined the EU, you would claim your state pensions from each country individually. Once we joined the EU and if you lived and contributed social security payments there, you would contact the relevant department of the country you were residing in i.e. worked and paid taxes in that country. They would then claim ALL your state pensions throughout the EU system. Under the Withdrawal Agreement for Brexit, this system has remained in place for both existing and new residents:

final salary pension review

‘The EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement announced on 24 December 2020 includes a protocol on social security co-ordination. UK government guidance on the rights of UK nationals in the EU, EEA or Switzerland to UK benefits and pensions from 1 January 2021, states:

UK State Pension
You can carry on receiving your UK State Pension if you move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension from these countries.
Your UK State Pension will be increased each year in the EU in line with the rate paid in the UK.

You can also count relevant social security contributions made in EU countries to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension.

This guidance is for UK nationals; however these rules on the State Pension apply to everyone regardless of your nationality and regardless of when you moved. (Gov.UK Benefits and pensions for UK nationals in the EEA and Switzerland, 24 December 2020).
(source – house of commons library)

Never worked in Spain or paid social security there?
You claim directly from the UK here www.gov.uk/state-pension-if-you-retire-abroad

retire

Differences in retirement ages
In some EU countries, you will have to wait longer to start drawing your pension than in others.

You can only receive your pension from the country where you now live (or last worked) once you have reached the legal retirement age in that country. If you have accumulated pension rights in other countries, you will only receive those parts of your pension once you have reached the legal retirement age in those countries.

So, it’s important to find out in advance, from all the countries where you have worked, what your situation will be if you change the date on which you start receiving your pension.
If you take one pension earlier than the other, it might affect the amounts you receive.

You can get more advice from the relevant authority in the country where you live and/or in the countries where you worked. Find out about the retirement ages and pension systems in the different EU countries you have contributed.

What age can you start claiming the state pension in Spain?
Currently 66 years, increasing by 1 & ½ months per year, until it reaches 67 in 2027.
(source trading economics)

How many years do I need to contribute for a full Spanish state pension?
36 years in general (35 for most people in the UK)

How is your state pension calculated?
Pension authorities in each EU country you’ve worked in will look at the contributions you’ve paid into their system, how much you’ve paid in other countries, and for how long you’ve worked in different countries.

The EU-equivalent rate
Each pension authority will calculate the part of the pension it should pay taking into account periods completed in all EU countries.

To do so, it will add together the periods you completed in all EU countries and work out how much pension you would get had you contributed into its own scheme over the entire time (called the theoretical amount).

This amount will then be adjusted to reflect the actual time you were covered in that country (called the pro-rata benefit).

The national rate
If you meet the conditions for entitlement to a national pension irrespective of any periods completed in other countries, the pension authority will also calculate the national pension (known as an independent benefit).

Pensions health check

Result
The national authority will then compare the pro-rata benefit and the independent benefit; you will receive whichever is higher from that EU country.

Each country’s decision on your claim will be explained in a special note you will receive, the P1 form.

See the below example of how this would work:
Dalila worked for 20 years in France and 10 years in Spain.
Both countries apply a minimum period of 15 years of work in order to have the right to a pension. Each country will calculate Dalila’s pension:
The French authority will make a double calculation:
• It will calculate Dalila’s national pension for the 20 years worked in France – let’s say EUR 800.
• It will also calculate a theoretical amount, the pension Dalila would have had if she had worked the full 30 years in France – let’s say EUR 1 500. Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension, which is the part of this amount that should be paid for the years worked in France: 1 500×20 years in France/30 years in total= EUR 1 000.

Dalila is entitled to the higher amount — EUR 1 000 a month.

The Spanish authority will not calculate the national pension because Dalila has worked in Spain less than the minimum period required. It will only calculate the EU-equivalent rate starting with the theoretical amount, the pension Dalila would have had if she had worked all the 30 years in Spain – let’s say EUR 1 200.

Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension – the part of this amount which should be paid for the years worked in Spain: 1200×10 years in Spain/30 years in total= EUR 400.
In the end, Dalila will receive a pension of EUR 1 400.
(source – Europa.eu – official website of the European Union)

State Pensions After BREXIT

Here is the official UK government wording on the continuation of Social Security Coordination between the UK & EU from Brexit:
“The provisions in the Protocol on Social Security Coordination will ensure that individuals who move between the UK and the EU in the future will have their social security position in respect of certain important benefits protected.

Individuals will be able to have access to a range of social security benefits, including reciprocal healthcare cover and an uprated state pension.

Article 114. This Protocol supports business and trade by ensuring that cross border workers and their employers are only liable to pay social security contributions in one state at a time. Generally, this will be in the country where work is undertaken, irrespective of whether the worker resides within the EU or the UK, or indeed whether the employer is based in the EU or the UK.

Article 115. UK workers who are sent by their employer to work temporarily in an EU Member State which has agreed to apply the “detached worker” rules will remain liable to only pay social security contributions in the UK for the period of work in that EU Member State. Similarly, if an EU worker is sent by their employer to work temporarily in the UK from a Member State which has agreed to apply the “detached worker” rules, they will remain liable to only pay contributions in that EU Member State.

116. Under the Protocol, the UK and EU Member States will be able to take into account relevant contributions paid into each other’s social security systems, or relevant periods of work or residence, by individuals for determining entitlement to a state pension and to a range of benefits. This will provide a good level of protection for people working in the UK and EU Member States. The Protocol also provides for the uprating of the UK State Pension paid to pensioners who retire to the EU.

117. On healthcare, where the UK or an EU Member State is responsible for the healthcare of an individual, they will be entitled to reciprocal healthcare cover. This includes certain categories of cross-border workers and state pensioners who retire to the UK or to the EU.

118. In addition, the Protocol will ensure necessary healthcare provisions – akin to those provided by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme – continue. This means individuals who are temporarily staying in another country, for example a UK national who is in an EU Member State for a holiday, will have their necessary healthcare needs met for the period of their stay. 119. The Protocol also protects the ability of individuals to seek authorisation to receive planned medical treatment in the

(source – UK government summary annex – UK-EU TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT Summary December 2020)

If you would like help talking this through, or making sure your financial assets are tax efficient, working for you in a safe manner adapting to the world as it changes, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Financial and Retirement Planning – Cash flow Modelling

By Chris Burke - Topics: Cash Flow Planning, Financial Planning, Pensions, Saving, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd February 2021

02.02.21

Many people seek financial advice, or financial planning, but if you asked them what they would like to get out of it, most people would probably say clarity on their finances, planning how to make their monies work and to have what they need in retirement, or partial retirement. Only 45% of people in Spain save into private pensions, and now with the government reducing the amount you can save that way tax efficiently, retirement planning is even more important.

Most financial advisers will look at your assets, see what you are doing, talk through why, then recommend a product to improve what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact that is part of what we do, however this isn’t really giving people what they hoped to get out of the meetings/talks.

A key part of helping people with their finances, as well as making their monies work, is real life planning of what they have now, what their goals are and showing them how to get there. People take in and understand much more visually, as most of us know; in fact 65% of us are visual learners. That’s why it’s important that when planning your finances you consider using a visual modelling system that shows your monies, what they are doing, future monies potentially coming in, and if you save ‘X’ amount into a pension/property/investment this will be the outcome. For example, which of the below would you prefer to see as your advice?

‘We recommend you place your €50,000 with ‘X’ company, and over the years achieving ‘X’ % return. Also, save ‘X’ a month in a savings program and both of these at retirement will give you ‘X’

OR TRY THIS…

Cash Flow Chris Burke
Cash Flow Chris Burke

What it really comes down to is the expertise of the planning, the knowledge of the financial adviser with whom you are working, and how much is actually put into planning your finances, rather than just making what monies you have work.

This is just one example why I/we at Spectrum stand out as excellent professional financial advisers and planners, if you would like to seriously start planning your retirement and investments or review what you are doing now, don’t hesitate to get in touch, or sign up to my Newsletter below to keep well informed.

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UK pension consolidation living in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: pension transfer, Pensions, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 1st February 2021

01.02.21

Now more than ever, with the UK leaving the EU, if you have a UK pension/pensions you will need to make sure that they are being properly looked after and managed. This needs to be by someone who can legally practice in the country where you are tax resident. Many UK pension companies are no longer able to give advice to those living outside of the UK, meaning you could have difficulties accessing, managing and securing your pension moving forward. A local adviser also has the advantage of knowing the local regulations, so is able to make sure you are adhering to the rules in addition to being as tax efficient as possible.

When people approach me to speak about their UK private or company pensions, they usually are not clear on:

    • What they are invested in, and whether the strategy is appropriate given the stage of life they are at now
    • How investment decisions are made, who makes them and when
    • The costs of management, what they are and are they efficient
    • How to access the pensions, particularly doing it tax efficiently living in Spain
    • How to consolidate multiple pensions, reducing costs and creating greater annual gains

When I ask most people what their pensions are invested in, what the annual returns are and when they last reviewed this, they usually don’t know or can’t remember. One of the reasons for this is that being outside of the UK makes all this all the more difficult to manage, and even more so now after Brexit.

Or, if they do know the answer to my questions, they have now found they cannot receive any advice from UK pension companies or UK based financial advisers moving forward.

final salary pension review

Consider consolidating several pension pots

If you have several different pension pots, there are potential advantages if you consolidate them into one. These include:

  • Simplification of administration and keeping track of your pensions
  • Managing your pension savings more easily and effectively, including potential tax liabilities knowing local, Spanish rules
  • Saving money if you can transfer from higher-cost schemes to a lower-cost one
  • Opening up a greater choice of investments if you are consolidating your pension pots into a flexible scheme

In many cases, the first step would be to locate your pensions and then evaluate what you have, how they work, what your options are and then have these managed effectively.

I help clients consolidate their UK pensions, managing them efficiently and effectively, planning for when they want to access them integrating with their tax situation and lifestyle. We can help you achieve all this, giving ongoing advice and moving forward making sure you access you pension tax efficiently, adapting to your life as it changes along the way.

For example, if you are over 55 years of age and currently on the Beckham Law, did you know you can cash your UK pensions in, potentially paying no tax in the UK, and potentially none in Spain? This is because on the Beckham Law, all ‘non-Spanish’ income is tax exempt (this depends on your personal circumstances) and being a NON-UK resident, you have no tax liabilities there either.

If you would like to discuss your various UK pensions and what your options are, feel free to get in touch.

Spanish private pensions

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, Retire in Spain, Spain
This article is published on: 1st January 2021

01.01.21

Approximately 45% of people living in Spain contribute to a private pension. For someone who is from another Western, perhaps non-Latin country, this would seem remarkably low. Many years ago, in the UK pensions were almost guaranteed as part of an employer package, and a while back it became compulsory for anyone working in a company aged over 22 and earning more than £10,00 a year to contribute to one. But that figure of 45% in Spain could be about to get even lower…..why?

Spain has decided to lower the amount of private pension contributions you will receive tax relief on, from a low €8,000 per year (the UK has an amount you can contribute annually to of £40,000) to a measly €2,000 from 2021 onwards.

I have an open-minded view about pensions; I do not see them as essential, which may seem strange coming from a Financial Adviser. For me, a retirement plan does not need to include or solely be a pension, as long as there is planning in place. The only things I see as good value for the saver with a pension is that employees may contribute into this for you, and the potential tax savings received. I say potential tax savings here, because yes, you may receive tax relief when adding to these pensions, however, more often than not, unless you can mitigate your tax situation, will pay taxes when taking the money out, so more commonly they are a tax deferral system (which is still some kind of potential benefit).

UK pension lump sum

So, if you take away employer contributions, for me private pensions, certainly as an international person living and working away from your country of residence, doesn’t seem all that attractive. If you ever leave that country the pension stays there, under that

country’s rules, and you cannot access this money until age 67 (in Spain) and invariably, in my opinion but seen through clients and performance charts, Spanish private pensions are generally not that good. Look at most Spanish banks’ pension funds and you will find high commissions, too much investment in the Spanish market, and not enough advice.

What should a retirement/pension plan look like? Well, it’s about having a plan/strategy, regularly reviewing and understanding it doesn’t have to be a ‘pension’. It can be property; indeed, one of the reasons private pension contributions are so low in Spain is because culturally they are property lovers, often not just one, but several. These are usually structured within a Spanish company and passed down through the generations, and can be a very attractive investment and also tax efficient. Buying property in Spain is expensive, approximately 13% in Catalunya for example, however if you rent this out as a long-term rental, up to 60% of that annual income is tax exempt.

What this doesn’t give you though is liquidity, so, if there is a property slow down, you could be stuck with that investment unless you want to take a loss on it, or you may have to leave it behind if you move on. It can also be a big hassle, with Okupas (a common problem in Spain of people unlawfully living in your property, and who are very difficult to get rid of, indeed sometimes it can take years to do so and cost a lot of money). Many people working now are almost in a ‘golden generation’ to think about their pension planning. Many of their parents have assets/properties that have grown very well, and will more often than not leave them a considerable amount of money (see my article on inheritance planning for a potential tax problems there!) They seem less worried about their retirement, than perhaps their parents were. Therefore, they don’t necessarily see the benefit of saving money into a pension when they might not need one, with the money being blocked until then and it restricting their current lifestyle.

balanced investments

A more popular and arguably better strategy for someone, perhaps like me for example, living away from my country of birth, is to make my money work by having it invested in a medium term strategy, say 5-10 years, but have more flexibility should I need it, say for school fees, or, in a few years time, buying a property, or anything else my plan entails (maybe even early retirement).

So, build your strategy on a mixture of property, investments and emergency funds where possible, and always review regularly to see which type of these suits you best at any given moment. Some people really don’t want the hassle of having property, so a well managed investment portfolio could be better for you.

I can help with all of this: the planning, helping set up a property investment structure, and organising savings that will be invested and work for you. Alongside this, we can set it up with access to the money should you need it, making sure you have a clear strategy and advice along your journey.

Comment prendre sa retraite à 50 ans?

By Cedric Privat - Topics: Barcelona, Financial Planning, Pensions, Retire in Spain, Retirement, Spain
This article is published on: 30th September 2020

30.09.20

Qui n’a pas rêvé un jour de pouvoir arrêter de travailler avant l’âge légal de la retraite? 50, 40, 30 ans? Et si ce rêve était réalisable?

La question peut faire sourire, surtout si vous résidez comme moi en Espagne à Barcelone, avec un prix de l’immobilier exorbitant et des salaires souvent moins élevés qu’en France.
Pourtant, de plus en plus de personnes y arrivent, alors pourquoi pas vous?

Le Frugalisme :
Le mouvement FIRE (Financial Independance, Retire Early), né aux Etats-Unis dans les années 2000, défend le principe de vivre simplement et de faire fructifier son argent pour pouvoir vivre de ses rentes.
Il s’inscrit dans un mouvement économiste du Frugalisme “Qui se nourrit de peu, qui vit d’une manière simple.” (Larousse)
Pourquoi ne pas s’en inspirer?

Comment?
• Économiser : s’acquitter de toute dette (surtout celle de votre bien immobilier), réduire son train de vie, éliminer les frais superflus, supprimer certains loisirs, épargner davantage dès le 1er du mois.
• Définir un budget : il sera indispensable de bien calculer vos besoins mensuels afin de définir votre patrimoine retraite et ainsi fixer votre objectif.
• Investir : en plus de votre résidence principale vous devrez investir judicieusement l’argent épargné dans des placements financiers, des actions ou de l’immobilier.

Les frugalistes suivent une « règle d’or » dite des 4% : disposer d’un patrimoine au moins 25 fois supérieurs au montant de ses dépenses annuelles. Si elles s’élèvent à 2.000 euros par mois, il faudra par exemple un patrimoine de 600.000 euros, permettant de vivre des 4% de rendement généré.

State pension systems

Quand commencer?
Bien évidemment, le plus tôt possible. Une retraite anticipée deviendra vite un rêve oublié si on débute trop tard, mais tout dépendra également de votre implication à la cause.
Les nouvelles générations se soucient de plus en plus tôt de leur retraite et pour cause; les prévisions des pensions publiques de retraite sont à la baisse et l’âge légal de départ à la retraite ne fait qu’augmenter.
Le frugalisme demandera une forte réduction de vos dépenses, il est souvent accompagné par une conscience écologique afin de se tourner vers un mode de vie décent et responsable.
Nos sociétés capitalistes amènent de plus en plus les individus à se poser des questions sur le rapport qu’ils ont à l’argent et au travail.

Qui peut appliquer cette méthode ?
Bien évidemment, toute retraite anticipée sera plus facilement accessible aux classes moyennes et supérieures. Pour beaucoup, il est déjà suffisamment compliqué de mettre un peu d’argent de côté.
Une recherche Google rapide vous permettra de lire les expériences de nombreux “jeunes retraités” à travers le globe.
Les méthodes divergent, mais la discipline est de rigueur. Certains retournent vivre chez leurs parents quelques années et économisent 70 % de leur salaire, d’autres travaillent pendant 10 ou 15 ans à un rythme à la limite du soutenable, certains vont compter des années chaque centime possible et enfin les plus privilégiés qui reçoivent un salaire confortable vont tout simplement faire plus attention, s’organiser et investir malin.

Cette méthode vous intéresse mais vous vous posez des questions ?

N’hésitez pas à prendre conseil auprès de professionnels à votre écoute.

Le groupe Spectrum à Barcelone vous propose d’effectuer un audit sans frais ni engagement afin de mieux vous organiser dans la préparation de votre retraite, anticipée ou non.

Nous vous aiderons ensuite à comparer et choisir le placement financier le mieux adapté à votre situation et préférence.

Tax break for pensioners moving to Italy

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Italy, Moving to Italy, Pensions, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 14th August 2020

14.08.20

Anyone like the sound of living in Italy and paying only 7% tax?

Generally speaking, if you are contemplating the move to Italy you will be thinking about many things, but saving on your tax probably isn’t one of them. So let me give you a nice surprise: if you are in the happy situation of being a pensioner considering moving to Italy, 7% tax on your income is possible, subject to a few rules, for the first 10 years of your residency in the bel paese.

This all came about in 2019’s budget and had the aim of encouraging people to move to underpopulated areas of Italy. Initially, the rules were that you had to take up residency in a town with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants in one of the following regions: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia or Sicily. Subsequently, the criteria were extended to include towns in the regions of Lazio, Le Marche and Umbria that had suffered earthquake damage and which have fewer than 3,000 inhabitants.

Of course, being Italy, something had to be difficult in all of this, and indeed the law makes reference not to a list of towns but instead tells you to look at ISTAT data (ISTAT is the Italian statistical institute) for the population levels on 1st January in the year prior to when you first exercise the option.

Spectrum IFA Survey

Given the difficulty in finding out exactly which towns would be covered by this rule, I delved into the ISTAT data and also dug out the relevant references to earthquake-struck towns with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants in the other regions mentioned above. I have put all of this in an Excel file which gives a list of towns eligible for the

pensioners’ tax break in Italy divided by region and then further by province, so that you have a rough geographical guide as to the areas you could consider moving to Italy.

As I was sifting through the ISTAT data it suddenly dawned on me that if the cut-off is 20,000 inhabitants, then almost the whole of Southern Italy is eligible for this 7% regime, and you can include in that some truly delightful places such as Vieste in the Gargano (Puglia), or even the island of Pantelleria. This is possible because Italy is divided up into municipal areas that sometimes have more feline than human inhabitants. Obviously, if you are looking for raucous nightlife then you are likely to be disappointed by what is on offer, but if, on the other hand, you like the idea of not having too many people around, then you could do worse than the town of Castelverrino in Molise (population 102) or Carapelle Calvisio in Abruzzo (population 85). Perhaps one day you could even become mayor.

Flat Tax Regime

This new flat-tax regime comes amid a move by a number of European countries to attract pensioners to their shores. Portugal offered a period of exemption on income tax for foreigners (the benefits of which they are now reducing) and Greece has recently announced the intention to offer a 7% flat tax on foreign-source income for pensioners (I wonder where they got that idea from?), which is also promised for 10 years. There is some discussion about the fact that the EU is not generally well-disposed towards these preferential tax regimes, which could lead to them being phased out in a relatively short period of time – so for those looking to make the most of them, time could truly be of the essence.

tax in italy

The great thing is that the 7% rule applies not only to your pension income, but can be applied across the board to any foreign-source income and there is also a substantial reduction in the complexity of the tax declarations that must be made. There are further tax-planning opportunities in all of this, because much will depend on whether you are planning on being a short-term or long-term resident of Italy.

As always, the devil is in the detail as far as tax and residency planning is concerned, and the year of transition when you first establish residency in Italy is key to setting yourself up in the most efficient manner.

So if the above sounds interesting, please get in touch and I would be happy to send you the list of eligible towns and discuss how the rules of the regime apply to your situation.