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Financial seminar for expats in Catalonia

By Chris Burke - Topics: Catalunya, International Bank Accounts, QROPS, Residency, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 25th February 2015

25.02.15

The Spectrum IFA Group’s Chris Burke spoke at a recent financial seminar alongside Spanish Lawyer, Nuria Clavera Plana, in Llafranc. The event was attended by 30 people and was followed by a Q&A session and a chance to meet the speakers over coffee.

Chris’s presentation covered:

  • Currency forecast, thoughts and ideas to implement for 2015.
  • UK Government Pensioner Bonds – 2.8%-4% per annum for anyone holding a UK bank account and debit card.
  • UK Pension & QROPS changes – Is your pension being managed effectively and is it in the right place?
  • Spanish Life Assurance Bonds/Investment – potentially Tax efficient, historically good returns (Prudential) and potentially succession planning friendly.

Chris ran through the concept of ‘the magic bank account’ for over 65’s in the UK, and many people were surprised to find out that you do not have to live in the UK to benefit from these – you just need a UK bank account and debit card and can achieve between 2.8% to 4% per annum with the savings also government backed. He discussed predictions and thoughts on currency, which highlighted last year’s most successful currency forecaster, stating that the Euro/Dollar will be at parity at 1-1 by the end of 2015. Still just as unnerving for those living in Spain, was the prediction that the Euro would reach 1.42 by the end of 2015 against the pound, particularly if the EU have to keep printing money to solve the crisis.

The new rules on UK pensions and QROPS were also highlighted. QROPS is a UK pension that has been moved overseas to benefit from EU rules (please note your pension should be evaluated by a qualified pension evaluator before you consider doing this) and although the new UK rules give much more flexibility, everyone acknowledged that hefty tax could have to be paid to access these. Qrops still has benefits over and above leaving your pension in the UK depending upon your situation, and from April 2015 should have nearly all of the benefits a UK pension will be entitled to, and potentially more.

Tax efficiency was perhaps the most popular subject Chris presented on, with most people interested in saving money on taxes both on their savings and with succession planning. In fact, passing on their money tax efficiently was the main interest over coffee after the presentations.

Presentation From Nuria Clavera Plana (Lawyer):

  • New income tax for Catalonia 2015 and what are the exemptions.
  • New Capital gains Tax for 2015 in Catalonia.
  • What assets need reporting.
  • Pension income from sources outside of Spain Amnesty.

Nuria as ever gave a very interesting presentation on what you now have to pay in taxes throughout Catalonia, the reasons why and how this works. By far the most popular conversation was the changes to Inheritance tax rules now in Catalonia, which in essence are the same now for Spanish Nationals and Foreigners residing here. This incorporates a big reduction in tax compared to before. It was also surprisingly good news for those leaving behind assets up to €1,000,000 with potentially limited tax to pay.

There were many questions surrounding what does and doesn’t need reporting for the Modelo 720 overseas asset declaration, ranging from classic cars to items not reported before. This topic always throws up major questions as always!

This year in Spain it is now a requirement to report any overseas pension income you are receiving up until the 30th June 2015. This generally would not have been taxed in most cases in the respective overseas countries due to the amount in question. However this should be reported in Spain and could therefore be subject to Spanish tax laws. It was discussed that this new law has been brought in mainly to find those Spanish Nationals who have been receiving pensions from working abroad previously and have not been declaring them or paying the relevant tax.

Nuria as ever gave everyone detailed analysis on these changes, so everyone left the event with a better knowledge of their own personal situation.

If you would like more information on this or any other questions you may have regarding Tax advice, please do not hesitate to contact Nuria on nuriaclavera@icab.cat or Telephone 972305454.

Chris and Nuria would like to thank all the attendees for asking such pertinent questions and joining in, making the event such a success.

Chris will also be presenting at future seminars in the coming months. Please feel free to contact him on chris.burke@spectrum-ifa.com or telephone him on 936652828 if you would like to know more about these, or wish to discuss any of the above details.

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The Financial Implications of Moving Abroad

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, europe-news, Habitual Residence, Residency, Retirement, Spain, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 30th January 2015

30.01.15

Moving abroad can be a stressful and confusing experience and starting from scratch in a new location can often be overwhelming.

If you have recently decided to up sticks and move to Barcelona, or if you’re a recent arrival in the sunny Catalan capital, then you will have many choices to make. Aside from the immediate practicalities of moving to a new country, such as choosing schools, buying or renting property, and setting up residency for you and your family, there are many other (often overlooked) factors to take into consideration:

Pensions:
Unlike the UK, most companies in Spain don’t provide a private pension scheme or private health insurance. However, as an Expat, you may have unique opportunities available to you. An adviser will be able to discuss each of the options enabling you to make a decision.

Banking:
Having the right banking arrangements is a key part of life overseas. It’s best to sort your finances out before you go, as local banks usually require a credit history and proof of address to set up an account – which you won’t have when you arrive.

Tax:
Dual-Country financial arrangements are complex and should not be taken lightly, as even the most innocent transaction can be costly if not well planned.

Savings and Investments:
There are many factors that go into determining the best country in which to locate your investments. Bear in mind that you may have access to, and potentially benefit from, onshore and offshore savings and investment assets.

ISAs:
If you currently have an ISA and are planning to move abroad, they are not tax efficient in Spain. You also need to be fiscally resident in the UK to pay into one.

Will & Testimony:
Your Will (and those of your family members) will need to be updated so that it is compliant in Spain

Financial Advice:
The complexities in managing currency risk, an investment portfolio, and dual-nation tax reporting are many. It is important for expats to have a trusted adviser who understands the financial nuances of living an international lifestyle.

Inheritance Tax in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Italy, Residency, Uncategorised, wealth management
This article is published on: 14th January 2015

14.01.15

You may not be aware but from an Inheritance tax point of view, Italy is actually considered a bit of a fiscal paradise (after you have picked yourself up off the floor because I just called Italy a ‘fiscal paradise’, you might want to read on). If your estate or part of it is likely to be subject to Italian Inheritance Tax on your death then the latest developments could interest you.

Italian Inheritance tax law dates back to the Napoleonic period which requires parents, on death, to leave a major proportion of their wealth to their children instead of just their spouse.

At the moment Italy’s Inheritance tax works as follows:

* If the estate is passed to your spouse or relatives in a direct line (i.e children) then they are required to pay 4% on the value of the inheritance that exceeds € 1million.

* Brothers and sisters must pay 6% with an allowance of €100,000

* Other relatives must pay 8% but without any allowance.

Despite Italy having approximately 1.5 million people who are subject to Inheritance tax each year with a combined value of approximately €56 billion, the tax collection is relatively small due to the high allowances and also the fact that that ‘successione’ for a property is based on the catastale value, not the market value.

WHAT ARE THE PROPOSED CHANGES?
Italy, like most other countries, is in desperate need of cash and they naturally see inheritance tax as a way of increasing tax revenues. In addition, the EU is encouraging Italy to review the present system to bring it into line with other, ‘less financially rewarding’, European countries.

The ideas, which are just ideas at this stage, are as follows:

* For spouse and direct line relatives, to increase the taxable rate to 5%. But, reduce the non-taxable allowance from €1 million to €200,000.

* Whilst the taxable rate will rise from 6 to 8% for brothers and sisters, and the allowance will reduce to between €50,000 and €100,000.

* The rates for other relatives will likely increase to 8% without any allowance.

This means that a lot of people will now be caught in the Italian Inheritance tax trap whereas previously they might not have been. Although, it should be said, the rates are still quite low.

However, as part of any inheritance tax /succession planning that you may undertake you may want to look at ways in which you can hold any asset, in a more tax efficient way. The polizza assicurativa (or Life Assurance Bond) meets exactly that criteria.

Any money that you hold in one of these tax efficient accounts is completely free from Italian Inheritance tax and is kept outside of the estate when the value is calculated. The not so good news is that if the majority of your estate is in your property, unfortunately, this cannot be placed inside the tax protective structure. However any other invested/investable assets can be, generally, from €50,000 upwards.

One of the great advantages is that there is no upper limit to contributions. You can protect a large part of your estate from Italian Inheritance tax easily and with maximum flexibility to access the capital and any income from it during your lifetime. The other big advantage is that the monies (whilst held inside the account) are not subject to Italian income and capital gains tax.

Tax and residency in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Inheritance Tax, Italy, Residency, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 12th January 2015

12.01.15

No 1. Expat tax Grief

Not a week goes by these days, where I am not contacted by someone who has a question about their residency in Italy, and what that means for them fiscally. Either by people who are about to move to Italy or others who have already been living here for some time and want to become ‘in regola’.

The conversation then naturally flows into the minutiae of exactly what are the taxes that need to be paid in Italy.

So, I would write and explain those pesky taxes that apply to expats who have income being paid and/or assets held in other countries. It may act as a good guide for those who are thinking about, or in the process of, doing something about their Italian tax returns for 2014.

Where to start?
Well, firstly I start by confirming that, as a resident in Italy, you are subject to taxation on your worldwide assets and income (with some exceptions). That means that if you are a resident in Italy then you are required to declare your assets and income, wherever they might be located or generated in the world.

TAX ON INCOME
If you are in receipt of a pension income, for example, and it is being paid from a private pension provider overseas or a state pension, then that income has to be declared on your Italian tax return (nb. different rules apply to Government service pensions, where tax is generally deducted at source in the country of origin and there is no further requirement to report the income in Italy). If tax is deducted at source in the country of origin, the income must still be declared again in Italy. A tax credit will be given for the amount of tax paid in the country of origin (assuming that country has a double taxation agreement with Italy), but any difference between the tax rates in the country of origin and Italy will have to be paid.

It is a similar picture for income, generated from employment. This is a slightly more complicated issue that depends on many factors and, therefore, I shall not dwell on it here. If you have any questions in this area you can contact me on the details at the bottom of this page.

INVESTMENT INCOME AND CAPITAL GAINS
This is one area where Italy excels above other countries, in that its system of calculation is very simple. As of 1st July 2014, interest from savings, income from investments in the form of dividends and other income payments are taxed at a flat 26%. Capital gains tax is the same rate of 26%.

** Interest from Italian Government Bonds and Government Bonds from ‘white list’ countries is still taxed at 12.5% rather than 26%, as detailed above. This is another quirk of Italian tax law as this means it is more convenient, from a tax position, to invest in Government Bonds in Pakistan or Kazakhstan, than it is to buy corporate Bonds from Italian corporate giants ENI or Unicredit. **

PROPERTY OVERSEAS
Property which is located overseas is taxed in 2 ways. Firstly, there is the tax on the income and, secondly, a tax on the value of the property itself.

1. Income from property overseas.
Unlike rental property located in Italy, which is taxed at the rate of approx 23% depending on what kind of rental you operate, overseas income from property is added to your other income for the year and taxed at your highest rate of income tax.

There is one advantage to this, in that tax in the country of origin has to be applied to the income in the first instance. Therefore, the net income (after expenses) in the country of origin is added to your other income in Italy for the year. This can be quite useful if the property/ies are investment properties, the expenses are high, the country of origin allows multiple deductions and the net income position is low. However, as I have written before, if you are reliant on the income to live on, then a high net income position (before declaration in Italy) can result in a much lower net amount (after Italian tax) depending on the amount of other income you receive each year. Once your total income for the year moves above €28,000 you enter into the punishing 38% tax bracket in Italy.

This can prove to be a tax INEFFICIENT income-stream for those hoping to live in Italy by relying on income from property overseas.

2. The other tax is on the value of the property itself, which is 0.76% of the value.

However, value must be defined in this instance. For EU based properties, the value is the Italian cadastral equivalent. In the UK (the area I am most familiar with), that would be the council tax value NOT the market value. You will find that the market value will, in most cases, be more than the cadastral equivalent value.

In properties located outside the EU, the value for tax purposes is defined as the market value of the property ONLY where evidence cannot be provided of the purchase value of the property, in which case this would be used instead.

TAXES ON ASSETS
It would not be right that other assets escaped Scot free!

BANK ACCOUNTS AND DEPOSITS
A very simple to understand and acceptable €34.20 per annum is applied to each current account you own. However, from 2014 every deposit account that you own overseas with an ‘average’ balance of €5,000 in it, each calendar year, is taxed at the rate of 0.2% of the average balance throughout the year. This includes fixed deposits, short term cash deposits, CD’s etc. The charge is the equivalent of the ‘imposta da bollo’ which is applied to all Italian deposit accounts each year.

Lastly, we have the charge on other foreign-owned assets (IVAFE). This covers shares, bonds, funds, portfolio assets or most other types of assets that you may hold. The tax on these is 0.2% per annum, (from Jan 1st 2014) based on the valuation as of 31st December each year.

This guide is only meant to be a broad outline of the taxes that affect most expats. It is not a full tax list and does not take into account personal circumstances. It is intended to be a guideline to help you make the right decisions.

My experience over the last 4 years has been, in most cases, that expats will end up paying more by being resident in Italy (which most seem to accept as OK, for the lifestyle they can lead) but, there are often a number of financial planning opportunities, to protect, reduce, and avoid certain taxes, that few take advantage of.

If we haven’t discussed these already or if you would like an initial chat to discover whether any of those opportunities are open to you then please feel free to contact me. There are no fees for enquiries and consultations.

Looking forward to 2015

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: France, Investment Risk, Investments, Pensions, QROPS, Residency, Tax, Uncategorised, wealth management
This article is published on: 9th December 2014

09.12.14

The end of the year is always a good time for reflection and this year we have had much to think about for our clients. However, as well as managing current financial risks for our clients, we are also forward looking. So I thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of some of the things that are on the horizon for 2015.

The UK Pensions Reform is big and we now have a reasonable amount of certainty of the changes taking place in April and it is unlikely that there will be any more changes of substance between now and then. The reform brings more flexibility, which is good, but the reality is that for many, the taxation outcome will be a deterrent against fully cashing in pension pots. This is likely to be even more so in France, where it is not just the personal tax and possible social contributions that are an issue, but also whatever you have left of the pot will then be taken into account in valuing your assets for wealth tax, as well as being potentially liable for French inheritance taxes.

The EU Succession Rules will come into effect in August. While the EU thinking behind this is good, i.e. to come up with a common EU-wide system to deal with cross-border succession, the practical effects will still have issues. The biggest issue for French residents is, of course, French inheritance taxes. Therefore, it may not necessarily be the case that the already tried and tested French ways of protecting the survivor and keeping the potential inheritance taxes low for your beneficiaries should be given up in favour of selecting the inheritance rules of your country of nationality. More information on the ‘French way’ can be found in my article at www.spectrum-ifa.com/inheritance-planning-in-france/ and on the EU Succession Regulations at www.spectrum-ifa.com/eu-succession-regulations-the-perfect-solution/

There is the UK General Election in May and who knows whether or not that will actually be followed at some point by a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Nor do we know what the outcome of such a referendum would be and so there is really no point in speculating, at this stage.

For UK non-residents, we are expecting the introduction of UK capital gains tax on gains arising from UK property sales from April, subject to there not being any changes in the next budget. We had also expected that non-residents would lose their UK personal allowance entitlement for income arising in the UK, but we now know that this will not happen next year. The Autumn Statement confirmed that it is a complicated issue and if there are to be any changes in the future, these will not take place before 2017. Of course, there could be a change in government and so it might be back on the agenda sooner!

We will also have the usual round of French tax changes, although this year the expected changes are much less extensive than in previous years. The French budget is still winding its way through the parliamentary process and I will provide an update on this next month.

Turning to investment markets, my personal opinion is that the main factor that will have an impact in 2015 is central bank monetary policy. Whether this results in tighter or looser policy from one country to another, remains to be seen. What is clear is that the prospect of deflation in the Eurozone remains a real threat and not only needs to be stopped, but also needs to be turned around with the aim of eventually reaching the target of being at or just below 2%. Other central banks around the world have a similar target and in areas where recovery is clearly underway, the rate of price inflation and wage inflation also needs to increase before we are likely to see the start or interest rate movements in the right direction.

Last but not least, with effect from 1st January 2015, under the terms of the EU Directive on administrative cooperation in the field of direct taxation, there will be automatic exchange of information between the tax authorities of Member States for five categories of income and capital. These include income from employment, director’s fees, life insurance products, pensions and ownership of and income from immoveable property. The Directive also provides for a possible extension of this list to dividends, capital gains and royalties.

 The above outline is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group to take any particular action on the subject of investment of financial assets or on the mitigation of taxes.

If you are affected by any of the above and would like to have a confidential discussion about your situation or any other aspect of financial planning, please contact me using the details or form below.

Should I stay or should I go?

By Rob Hesketh - Topics: France, Inheritance Tax, Investment Risk, Investments, Pensions, Residency, Retirement, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 25th November 2014

25.11.14

Quite frankly I’ve been struggling to think of what to write about this week, but then it suddenly struck me that there has been a recurring theme in a number of my client meetings recently. That theme put simply is, ‘Where will I end my days; in France, or in England?’ This isn’t a popular topic of conversation amongst vibrant, exuberant, middle aged expatriates, but we’re not the only people here. We are in the company of many seasoned expats who’ve been here longer than we have; seen it all; done it before we did, and are feeling a bit tired. Many of them are ‘going home’.

We should pay a lot of attention to this group, because we are going to inherit their shoes. We need to learn from their experiences, and take the opportunity to plan for the time when we will experience what they are going through.

Five years ago, when writing on a similar theme, I think I proffered the theory of the three ‘D’s as the principal reason to return to the UK: death, divorce and debt. I still think that they are valid causes, but I now think that there are many subtle variations to be taken into account, and the biggest addition to the equation is age. Age changes your perceptions; often for the better, but age often also brings insecurity and loneliness. Add to that illness, and maybe bereavement, and you have a powerful reason to examine your reasons to continue to live hundreds of miles away from a family that (hopefully) continually worries about you. In short, no matter how much we pooh-pooh the idea now, the chances are that we may eventually end up being cared for in our final years in the UK rather than in France.

OK, that’s enough tugging at the heartstrings. Why is a financial adviser (yours truly) concerned about where you live, and where you may live in future? The answer is currency, specifically Sterling and Euro. In a previous existence, I was responsible for giving advice to corporate and personal clients of a major High St bank regarding exposure to foreign exchange risk. The basic advice was simple – identify and eliminate F/X risk wherever you can. F/X risk is for foreign exchange dealers; it is gambling. Don’t do it unless you know what you’re doing, and even if you do, prepare to lose money.

On a basic level, eliminating exchange rate risk is easy. Faced with a couple in their 50’s relocating to France with a healthy investment pot behind them and good pensions to support them in the future, I will always ask ‘Where do you intend to spend the rest of your days?’ The answer is usually an enthusiastic ‘France, of course. We have no intention of going back to the UK. In fact wild horses wouldn’t drag us back.’ I know this for a fact – I’ve said it myself.

The foreign exchange solution is simple. Eliminate your risk. Convert your investment funds to Euro (invest in a Euro assurance vie). Convert your pension funds to Euro (QROPS your pension and invest in Euro). Job done! Client happy, for now! But what happens 25 years later, when god knows what economic and political shenanigans have transpired, and the exchange rate is now three Euro to the pound and the surviving spouse wants to ‘go home’?

As it happens, I will no longer be his or her financial adviser. The chances are that I will have popped my clogs years ago, but If not, I will most likely be supping half a pint of mild in a warm corner of a pub somewhere in the cheapest part of the UK to live in. (In fact that is poetic licence, as I know full well that I’d probably be being spoiled rotten in my granddad flat in one of my sons’ houses). To draw this melancholy tale to a close, I’d just like to round up by saying that things are rarely as simple and straightforward as they seem. My job is not always to take what you tell me at face value. I know people who’ve been here longer than you. My advice may well be ‘hedge your bets, spread your risk’. I will give you the best possible investment tools for your money and pensions, but I might just surprise you with my recommendation as to what currency those funds should be invested in.

EU SUCCESSION REGULATIONS – the perfect solution?

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: europe-news, France, Residency, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 10th November 2014

10.11.14

The EU Succession Regulations (also known as Brussels IV) were adopted on 4th July 2012. The UK, Ireland and Denmark opted out of the Brussels IV, but residents of these countries are still affected, particularly if they have cross-border succession interests.

The default position is that the law of “habitual residence at the time of death” will apply to the succession of the entire estate of persons who die on or after 17th August 2015. However, a person may choose the law of the country of his “nationality” to apply by specifying this in a will. If the person has more than one nationality, he can choose whichever he wishes.

Therefore, except for residents of the UK, Ireland and Denmark, a foreigner (not necessarily an EU national) living in any of the other 25 EU States can elect the country of his nationality to apply to the succession of his estate. Interim measures are already in place to make such a ‘nationality election’ now in a will, but it will not be effective until 17th August 2015.

There is considerable misunderstanding about the Regulations and whilst it is true that people will be able to choose the succession rules of their country of nationality this will not change the inheritance tax rules that apply. Therefore, if at the time of your death you are French resident or you own property in France, even if you have chosen the succession rules of another country, it is still the French inheritance tax rates that will apply. This means that the amount of French inheritance tax that your beneficiaries will have to pay will depend upon their relationship to you.

Unfortunately, I am finding that people who are purchasing property now and are planning to live in France may not be seeking adequate inheritance planning solutions. They believe that they can rely on the EU Succession Regulations to protect the survivor, but sadly they are not aware of the potential inheritance tax issues that can exist.

For example, the most common scenario that we come across is one that involves there being children from a previous marriage. Currently, unless the couple buy the property ‘en tontine’ or the children enter into a family pact with their natural parent, the surviving step-parent will not have full control over the property. The EU Succession Rules achieve the same effect as these techniques, if the couple elect for the succession rules of their country of nationality to apply and that country does not have any concept of children being ‘protected heirs’.

A perfect solution? Maybe, if the only objective is to protect the surviving step-parent, but if the step-parent wishes to leave the property to the step-children, then there will still be a 60% inheritance tax bill, so perhaps not quite the perfect solution!

Actually, I have greater concern about some expatriates who are resident in France now, who are already making new French wills, choosing the law of nationality to apply to their succession. This may be fine if there is a ‘stable family relationship’ and the couple only have children of their marriage, particularly as it is likely to cost less in legal fees than the alternative of changing their marriage regime to one of “Communauté Universelle avec une clause d’attribution intégrale de la communauté au conjoint survivant”, which would achieve the same effect.

However, many people have already undertaken inheritance planning (and paid for this), which has achieved the objective of protecting the survivor and mitigating the potential inheritance tax bills of their heirs, as far as possible. Depending on the situation (value of estates, stable family relationship or not), it is highly likely that the planning already undertaken will be better for the majority of cases and making a new will now might turn out to be a costly mistake for the potential beneficiaries.

Like all aspects of financial planning, every case should be looked at on its own merits and what seems clear is that there will be some cases where the ‘French way’ may still be best. For example, take my own situation where as a British citizen who is in a French civil partnership (PACS) with someone who has dual US and British citizenship, as well as him having two daughters and two grandchildren living outside of the EU, we will not be rushing ahead to request that English succession rules apply to our estates. Instead, we will definitely continue to depend upon our French family pact and assurance vie because in that way, we know that when the time comes, the survivor will be fully protected and the potential inheritance tax bills of our heirs have been mitigated.

Hence, as can be seen, tried and tested solutions already exist for dealing with property, plus assurance vie will continue to be an effective succession planning tool for financial assets. You can find out more about the ‘French way’ by reading my article on ‘Inheritance Planning in France’ on our website at www.spectrum-ifa.com/inheritance-planning-in-france/ or by contacting me directly for a copy.

Brussels IV aims to harmonise the approach to succession across the EU with the intention that the civil rules of only one jurisdiction apply to the succession of a person’s estate, i.e. habitual residence or nationality. However, due to the opt-out of the three Member States, this has already created uncertainty. In addition, it is not clear how the Regulations will work at a practical level, in particular, how the courts in one country will administer the succession of both moveable and immoveable assets in another country. Hence, even some international legal experts are not yet drafting transitional provisions into wills that involved a cross-border succession, as there is still too much uncertainty. We can only hope that there is further clarification before August 2015.

The above outline is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group to take any particular action on the subject of investment of financial assets or on the mitigation of taxes.

How my Independent Financial Adviser in Spain saved me 82,947euro in tax!!

By Barry Davys - Topics: Pensions, Residency, Spain, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 5th November 2014

05.11.14

Photo Steve bloodMr Blood has lived in Spain for eight years. However, as a result of a pension mis-selling review in the UK by a large UK bank he received compensation to cover a pension shortfall. The client was extremely satisfied with the amount of the compensation. Advice was requested from his Independent Financial Adviser (IFA), Barry Davys of The Spectrum IFA Group, on how to invest this compensation to ensure that his pension fund returned to its true value.

Whilst this payment of compensation is tax free in the UK, Mr Blood is resident in Spain. In Spain these types of payment are taxable. Fortunately, the IFA knew the differences in the tax regimes. Barry had a tax lawyer calculate the amount of tax due on the compensation payment and Mr Blood was, not surprisingly, horrified to find that the tax to be paid was 82.947,91€.

Despite the client having signed a letter of acceptance with the bank and the compensation having been paid, Barry reviewed the case and found that the letter of acceptance did not sufficiently identify the issue of Spanish tax, having only emphasised the UK tax situation. Barry opened negotiations with the bank. As the regulatory requirements in the UK required the bank to put the client in a “no loss” position, the payment of tax resulted in a loss. To be fair to the UK bank they accepted this principle and agreed to pay a further compensation to cover the loss from having to pay tax.

The payment of a further 82,947€ could have seemed like a satisfactory outcome. However, any payment to cover the client’s loss as a result of the tax payment would be subject to taxation on the additional payment too. Our adviser again instructed a tax lawyer for the calculation of the gross amount required to ensure the client was put back in a no loss situation. Further negotiation by the IFA resulted in a grossed up additional payment to the client of 178,000€. This resulted in Mr Blood being recompensed in full for the loss.

Case Study Key Points

The key points in this case study show that a knowledge of UK and Spanish tax law was required to identify the problem. Secondly, knowledge of regulatory requirements helped ensure a successful negotiation between the bank and the IFA. Using specialist tax lawyers to calculate liabilities strengthened the client’s position. Finally the IFA’s knowledge of UK and Spanish pension law helped to identify what options were available for reimbursement.

On payment of the additional compensation Mr Blood commented;
“I was frankly shocked to learn that the Spanish Hacienda doesn’t recognize compensation for a loss as exactly that; a compensation. My initial dealings with the bank quickly highlighted my lack of experience with financial matters, and I was relieved that Barry agreed to negotiate on my behalf. His in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry and his negotiation style delivered for me the best possible outcome I could have wished for me and my family. I sincerely believe this outcome was only possible with his support.”

Barry Davys was also pleased. “It is extremely gratifying to be able to help someone in this way. The years of studying taxation, pensions, regulations etc. feel worthwhile in situations such as these. It is an extremely interesting time in Spain with many changes in taxation from 1st January 2015. I look forward to the challenge of helping international people with their financial planning to put them in the best possible position”.

Residency and Tax

By Susan Worthington - Topics: France, Italy, Residency, Spain, Tax, Uncategorised, Yachting
This article is published on: 22nd October 2014

22.10.14

Where are you resident?

Where should you pay Tax?

Should you pay Tax?

 

These questions are usually as easy as “who do you bank with?” However, for some Yacht Crew, they can be as complex as “what is the meaning of life?” The problem with residency and overseas or cross-border tax is that there is nothing in black and white, most of it is a grey area.

Let’s start with the basics :

1) If you spend more than 183 days a year in a European country, you are considered a Fiscal Resident. This means that the country you are living in expects you to pay tax on your Income as well as Capital gains and possibly even Inheritance Tax in that country.

2) If you do not declare residency anywhere then you are usually expected to pay tax where you are considered domicile.

3) Domicile is one’s primary residence for tax purposes. A domicile is established via a driver’s license, voter registration and/or as being the address on record for credit cards and other bills – it could possibly be the country of birth of your father. It is not necessary that one actually lives in their listed domicile, although most people do. Because a domicile is established primarily for tax purposes, it is somewhat controversial. This is due to the fact that many foreign workers establish residences elsewhere to avoid paying taxes. Most countries will argue that you are domicile in that particular country if you were born there or plan to die/ be buried there. Domicile is an extremely complicated issue and I have outlined the very basics only.

A quick example of how complicated it can be :
Person A was born in France where his father was working at that time. However, his father was from Australia and his father’s permanent home was in Australia. The family subsequently moved to the UK for a couple of years and when Person A was 18 he got a job as a deckhand on a boat. He has worked around for a few years on the boats and never really declared residency anywhere or paid tax anywhere. His domicile = Australian.

4) Within Europe if you spend more than 90 days in a country and pay tax in that country, but spend no more than 183 in any other country, then you can pay tax in the country in which you reside for 90 days and not in another.

For example, you work on a boat but are based in Monaco for 4 months a year. You have a house in Spain where you spend 5 months a year and you spend the remaining 3 months at sea. You could then declare your residence in Monaco, as long as you rent a flat there. This is one way of keeping the tax you pay to a minimum.

There are three main taxes that most people don’t particularly like :

  • Income Tax
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Inheritance Tax

Now I will concentrate mainly on Spain and France as these are the biggest centres for yacht crew in Europe at the moment.

Currently (2014)

France

Spain

Income Tax

5.5% – 45%

24% – 52%

Capital Gains Tax

21% – 25 %

21% – 27%

Inheritance Tax

5% – 45 %

1 % – 34 %

The level of the taxes depends largely on the amount, the relationship between the parties and your residency.

There are deductions that can be made from these amounts depending on such things as if you have dependents, allowances and, with succession tax, the relationship between the donating and receiving parties.

Property is the obvious one that can prove to sometimes fall into all of these categories.

Assets such as investments can be wrapped in an “assurance vie” or life assurance wrapper. This creates an extremely tax-efficient vehicle for you or anyone else who might be receiving the money. It gives you the option on when to pay your tax on it and how much you pay.

Some of these rules are set to change on January 1st 2015 in Spain.

The following seem to be the relevant (incl. unchanged) points for private banking clients:

  • Wealth Tax and Inheritance Tax are not included in this reform. Although the government initially said they would be, changes have been postponed pending a global agreement with Spanish autonomous regions.
  • Marginal income tax rates are reduced at 45% and corporate ones to 25%. However, the income threshold to reach the new marginal maximum is significantly lower (from 175,000 EUR to 60,000 EUR).
  • The “dual base” approach in Income Tax is maintained: The income tax rate on Savings is reduced from 27% to 24% in 2015 and to 23% in 2016. Savings income threshold is increased from 24,000 EUR to 60,000 EUR.
  • Capital gains in shares and funds held for less than one year will not be taxed at marginal income tax rate from 1 January 2015.
  • Assets acquired prior to 1994 will be now fully taxed on gains if sold after 1 January 2015, without deductions.
Source :  Boletín Oficial 121/000109
This article is written to the best of the understanding of the Boletín Oficial 121/000109 which was realesed to change the  Ley 35/2006 and could be subject to change.

 

If are interested in finding out if you pay too much tax, if you need more information on residency or domicile or to find out if your assets could be more tax efficient for you, please contact your local adviser

 

Tax Residency in Italy

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, Residency, Tax, Uncategorised
This article is published on: 22nd September 2014

22.09.14

Tax Residency is always one of those issues that raises it head in batches, from time to time.

So, I thought I should clarify the matter again.

Residency determines where you may or may not be located for tax purposes.

The notion that you can be resident in Italy but pay tax elsewhere is an outdated notion and one that should be forgotten.

RESIDENCY IS A MATTER OF FACT AND NOT ONE OF CHOICE.

Here are the facts as determined by Section 2 of the Italian Income Tax Code:

An individual is considered resident for tax purposes in Italy if, for most of the calendar year (183 days), you are:
* registered with the Registry of the Resident Population (Anagrafe).
* resident or domiciled in the territory of the Italian state, as defined by Section 43 of the Italian Civil code.

And, according to Section 43 of the Italian Civil code:
* Your place of residence is the place where you, the individual, have your habitual abode.
* your place of domicile is your principal place of business and social/family interests.

Employment income is considered ‘produced’ in Italy if the work activity (i.e. business) is performed on Italian territory (this also means internet activity that is carried out in Italy, even if the focus of the internet activity is in another country).

Italy has been quite vocal about trying to clamp down on people who are claiming residency in Italy (and using public services) but not submitting tax returns, and also those who are operating business activities in Italy but claiming residency for themselves, or the business, elsewhere.

In reality it would be hard for the authorities to track them down, but with the open exchange of information agreements between Italy, UK, Germany, France, Spain and now the USA, it is hard to imagine how computers will not, before long, be merely churning out lists of wrongdoers every week.

The better way is to plan your way around your residency and your respective tax authorities.

Make sure you get your residency options right first time. By this, I mean talk to the people who understand these issues, plan carefully in advance of taking residency in Italy or elsewhere and, ensure that you take advantage of the tax breaks available to you. Failing to do so can create burdensome Italian administrative headaches after the event.

In any case, we should remember the words of Benjamin Franklin who once said

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

If you have any questions regarding your own residency or if you would like to try and plan your way around your residency in a more tax efficient manner then you can contact me.