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Your Financial Health Check 2022

By Chris Burke - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, Spain
This article is published on: 5th January 2022


New Year Financial Planning Resolutions

First of all, a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Kings Day to all of my clients and readers! Here we are about to start another year; how fast the time passes! Although we have various challenges and uncertainties on our plate currently, the latest COVID-19 variation Omicron and the ongoing Brexit transition to name a couple, I am feeling optimistic about the year ahead.

This time of year is commonly thought of as the natural time to plan ahead. Writing our New Year’s Resolutions allows us to put down in writing what we would like to accomplish over the forthcoming 12 months, and hold ourselves accountable to this. There is a four-benefit cycle of writing New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Motivation Increases – we will feel motivated and determined from the moment that we set our goals so that we…
  2. Take Control – we internalise that there is nothing stopping us from achieving our goals and that we have the power to ‘make it happen’. Resulting in a…
  3. Sense of Achievement – as we take control and achieve our goals, we will start to feel a sense of achievement, motivating us further…
  4. Self-Esteem/Confidence – as we crush our goals, we will see our self-esteem and confidence skyrocket!
New Year Financial Planning Resolutions - Health Check

But Chris, I hear you say, I don’t know what to include in my New Year’s Resolutions! There are lots of options, whether this is improving your fitness, learning a new skill or improving your financial situation. I specialise in financial advice, so I believe that I can add the most value assisting you with the latter!

A recent Royal London study (Royal London customer research: Feeling the benefit of financial advice, 2020) found that those who take financial advice are on average £47,000 better off over 10 years than those who do not. Furthermore, the study also highlighted that having a financial adviser not only has financial benefits. It suggested that the average person that receives regular financial advice feels more confident and in control, along with experiencing a heightened sense of ‘peace of mind’.

I am an advocate of the Five Key Financial Planning Principles, also known as the PIPSI. These principles are listed in order of importance, starting with ‘Protection’. If you do not have adequate cover in place, then should something happen, the rest of your plans will not happen, so it is generally agreed that protection is the most important.

P – Protection
I – Income Protection
P – Pension
S – Savings
I – Investment

Protection – do you have adequate life and critical illness cover? Are you paying a fair price for it? Do you have a will to protect your family? Is it up to date?
Income Protection – if something happened resulting in you being unable to work due to accident or illness, are you covered? Would your dependents be financially secure?
Pensions – will your pension plans allow you to retire comfortably? Do you have pensions from previous jobs that could be due for a review? If you have numerous pensions, could it be best to consolidate them to reduce the overall charges and to maximise their effectiveness?
Savings – are you saving money regularly? Are you getting the best interest rate on your savings? Are your savings protected against inflation?
Investments – do your investments match your attitude to risk? Are your current investment charges too high? Do your principles align with your investment choices? For example, are you investing in an ethical manner? Are they on track with your financial life goals?

Have you included improving your finances as a part of your New Year’s Resolutions? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice. The initial consultation is free and without any obligation.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and find out more about him and his advice.

Pension scams – what you need to know

By Chris Burke - Topics: Pensions, Spain
This article is published on: 2nd December 2021


The pension scams in Spain – What they are, how they work and how to avoid them

Pension scams have cost UK expats residing in Spain millions of pounds over the last few years. The reality is that anyone can fall foul to a pension scam, irrespective of how financially savvy they think they are. The fraudsters often seem very professional and trustworthy and promise guaranteed lucrative returns, but in reality, the victims are usually left with nothing.

How do pension scams work?
Fraudsters normally contact the individual by phone, text or email. They may claim to be a fictitious company or they may even falsify their identity, for example claiming to be from HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) or the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). After establishing a rapport with the individual, the scammer will then try to persuade the victim to part with their pension. There are multiple different strategies for this, but each strategy effectively entails persuading the victim to transfer all or a large part of their pension to the fraudster.

The pension may be stolen outright, or it may be invested into rare, high-risk investments such as overseas bonds, infrastructure or obscure technologies. The scammer may also promise early access to the pension through various ‘loopholes’ or by offering loans to be paid back upon receipt of the pension. In this scenario, alongside potentially losing their entire pension, if they transfer it out early the victim may also face a large tax bill from HMRC. If HMRC class the early pension withdrawal as ‘unauthorised’, the tax bill can mount up to a maximum of 55%!

Only in very specific circumstances are you able to withdraw your pension early. If you are contacted by someone trying to persuade you to do this, it is likely to be a scam.

Pension scams in Spain

How to avoid pension scams? Top 5 Tips

1.Research the individual/company – are they genuine?
Research the individual and the company that they work for on the internet. Depending on how they contacted you, perform a search on their phone number, email address or even their LinkedIn profile. Next, look for news articles and/or reviews on the company, ideally from an independent source (companies in the past have falsified reviews or even paid news outlets to publish positive publicity).

2. Contact a government regulated body for guidance
After conducting your own research online, why not contact an official government regulated body for additional verification? Companies such as Pension Wise, the Pensions Advisory Service or the Money Advice Service may be able to assist and ensure that the proposition is legitimate.

3. ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’
Have you been promised guaranteed returns at an exceptionally high rate? If the proposal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Furthermore, high rates of returns often also result in high levels of risk.

4. Offers of early pension access – thoroughly research
As mentioned above, this is a very common pension scam. In only very rare case scenarios are you able to access your pension under the age of 55, so if this has been offered to you please conduct thorough due diligence. It may furthermore result in a tax bill of up to 55%.

5. Investing in an unusual asset class – be vigilant of scams
Be mindful of proposals to invest in strange and obscure assets. The assets which you invest in should all have easily accessible information available on them. For example, the funds that you invest in should all have factsheets available online (on Trustnet for example) and the shares you invest in should all be listed on a reputable exchange.

Pension advice, either managing or planning, is very important and that advice can greatly improve the amount you receive in retirement, or for your loved ones after death. What it will also give you is peace of mind that your pension money is safe and not falling foul of any risks/scams, and that you are being given ongoing, good advice.

If you would like to find out more about pensions and investments here in Spain or to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris on the form below.

Inflation: food for thought

By David Hattersley - Topics: Inflation, Spain
This article is published on: 30th November 2021


Governments use a variety of measures to calculate inflation figures, but in the main consider about 600 items that are in popular demand. Hand sanitizer has recently been added to the list as an essential item. But, it will also include TVs, clothing, smart phones, new gadgets etc. If one strips out something that is considered by some as non essential or has no need to be replaced, then within an individual’s budget the cost of food will take on greater significance.

Within the food chain costs are going up. Farming and breeding have been badly hit by increased production costs; electricity has gone up by 270%, tractor diesel 73%, fertilizer 48%, water by 33% and seeds by 20%. Growers have to pay more just to cultivate and pick their crops. In Galicia dairy farmers who produce 40% of Spain’s milk are being “strangled” by soaring production costs, estimated at 25% by the Union of Agrarians. Bad weather, such as the recent “Gota Fria”, can also have a negative impact on crops. The complaint from farmers is that whilst supermarket customers are paying more for their milk, the Food Chain Law has not been applied, i.e. “no link in the chain may charge less than what it costs to produce.”

Distribution is also part of the food chain. The majority of Spanish truckers are self employed, but have been unable to offset their increased costs of diesel plus the future cost of automated motorway toll roads. A three day strike has been called for 20th-22nd December.


So perhaps a perfect storm of reduced supply and increased demand will, if you excuse the pun, “add fuel” to the inflationary upward spiral. This is perhaps lessened in Spain, as it is relatively self sufficient in relation to food supply and is a major exporter. It is worse for countries that are not self sufficient and need to rely on Spain’s exports and alternative supplies from across the globe.

To many of my retired clients who remember the UK in the 80’s, inflation has again become a concern. I have been able to help them find some financial protection against this for their savings, in particular those that held surplus cash in banks in excess of an emergency fund. Each client had their own attitude to risk which does vary, hence the need for regular reviews. I have access to Spectrum’s preferred investment partners who can provide a multi asset and globally diversified tailored solution.

We do not charge fees for reviews, reports, recommendations or future service meetings. Should you wish to contact me to explore your needs further, please feel free to do so either via the web site or directly using the contact details below.

Can I keep my UK ISA living in Spain?

By Chris Burke - Topics: Spain, UK investments, UK ISA
This article is published on: 19th November 2021


As explained on the UK government website, you can keep your UK ISA open if you move abroad. However, it is not possible to add money to the ISA in the tax year after you move (unless you are a crown employee working overseas or their spouse or civil partner). Furthermore, as soon as you stop being a UK resident you must inform your UK ISA provider. If you decide to move back to the UK in the future then you may continue to contribute to your ISA.

ISA’s in Spain – can I get a Spanish ISA?
In simple terms, it is not possible to get an ISA (Individual Savings Account) in Spain. In order to be eligible for a UK ISA, you must be a tax resident of the UK (or a crown employee working overseas or their spouse or civil partner). However, there are financial products available in Spain that are similar to an ISA which can be considered as a viable alternative.

Spanish compliant investment bonds – the ISA alternative?
Similar to the UK ISA, Spanish compliant investment bonds offer tax benefits. Only select accounts are eligible for these benefits, so one must be careful to open an account specifically designated as a Spanish compliant portfolio bond. Although in Spain the gains from the performance of the investment are not completely tax free like the UK ISA, the gains from the Spanish compliant investment bonds still hold notable tax advantages. These advantages can be summarised in the following table:

Benefit Explanation
Capital Gains Tax Reduction No capital gains tax is charged until a withdrawal takes place, allowing the power of compound interest to grow the value of the investment over time.
Tax Savings on Withdrawals Unlike ‘normal’ investments in Spain, you only pay tax on the growth of the investment as opposed to the overall percentage gain. The original investment is known as initial capital.
Annual Tax Return Does not need to be reported on the Modelo 720.
Different Currencies Can be held in a variety of currencies – it is not required to be held in euros.
Inheritance Tax Reduction It can be held jointly meaning that the policy would pass to the survivor in the event of death, preventing complex legal hurdles.
Fund and Provider Choice A wide range of regulated funds qualify, which are offered by international firms such as Prudential and Quilter PLC.

Spanish Compliant Investment Bond – Tax Saving Example

Initial Partial Surrender (Part Withdrawal) of €5,000)

Premium (Initial Investment) €100,000
Surrender Value €130,000
Partial Surrender (Withdrawal) Amount €5,000
Policyholder/Spanish Resident Before Chargeable Events Yes
(Initial Investment/surrender value) x partial surrender amount
(€100,000/€130,000) x €5,000 Non-taxable Portion €3,846
(Initial Investment – non-taxable portion) €5,000 – €3,846 Taxable Income €1,154
19% tax on the taxable income
€1,154 x 19% Tax Due €219
Amount Paid to Policyholder €5,000 – €219 = €4,781
Surrender Value – Partial Surrender Amount
(€130,000 – €5,000) Closing Surrender Value of Bond €125,000

In essence the more the Spanish Investment Bond grows, the more your tax is offset.

If you would like to find out more about the ISA alternative here in Spain or to talk through your situation and receive expert, factual advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and find out more about his advice.’ ? Or the last few words deleted altogether.

Trust not Trusts

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Spain
This article is published on: 15th November 2021


In this article I want to explore trust in business, although the two in the title have always been synonymous with each other. Trusts were created at the time of the Crusades in the Middle Ages to enable the Crusader Knights to leave their estates in the hands of someone they alone trusted. To this day you place your trust in someone to look after your assets which is why that someone is called a trustee.

Trust is an abstract concept and without it business could not function – certainly not at the volumes and levels it does – or else one would be reduced to solely carrying out transactions which were guaranteed by some 3rd party.

In financial services, trust is the basic ingredient, the bedrock, the lubricant if you like, which allows the flow of capital to its destination for the good of both individuals and companies. In Spectrum’s case, it is of course for the benefit and well being of our private clients. It must be remembered that Spectrum’s business model is built neither on publicity nor advertising, but on referrals. This means that if new clients come to us because they know of someone who has benefited from our services, they do so solely on trust.

Spectrum in turn places its trust in its providers (whether they be tax lawyers, life assurance companies or pension trust companies) and investment houses. We are responsible for the financial well being of all our clients and for that reason we have to be very careful in whom we place our trust. We are not in the risk business but in the wealth preservation business, for today’s clients and their future generations.

our services

Trust is spawned by truth. They are intertwined. If you always tell the truth (whether it be good or bad) a relationship will form between the speaker and the listener which cannot be eroded by other parties whose ethics are somewhat less than ours. Spectrum has a mantra – the client before the business – which in simple terms is the question: to whose advantage is a particular step – the client or the company?

Trust is a two way street. If our clients trust us, then we must trust our clients to tell us the truth from outset and to behave responsibly in this relationship. We have a duty to our clients and so they must reciprocate likewise.

Trust in banks nowadays is not as fruitful as it once was. This can almost certainly be attributed to them treating their customers as numbers, not as people. I have a widowed, infirm client whose grandfather was the chairman of a major UK clearing bank. She was treated with disdain – it simply meant nothing.

Finally, you take trust to a breaking point if you cannot show professional credentials. Would you be flown by an unqualified unlicensed pilot (the recent tragic death of that well known soccer player being the most recent example)? Would you have medical treatment from an unqualified medical practitioner? Or an architect without him/her being accredited to the relevant professional body in your country?

Trust is an incredibly rewarding relationship. You only have to read the testimonials on this website to see how rewarding it is – for both parties. If you would like to explore in more detail these rewards and find out more of how we do business with our clients and what we can do for you, do please contact me below:

Gift tax in Spain

By Chris Burke - Topics: Gift tax in Spain, Inheritance Tax, Spain
This article is published on: 14th November 2021


I hope you are all well; so far so good in getting back to a ‘normal world’ but you never know how near we are to a ‘Black Swan’. This month’s TT covers the following Hot Topics:

  • UK to Spanish driving license – another update
  • Gift tax in Spain – assets received from a UK parent, what tax would you pay in Catalonia?
  • UK private pension age to be increased from 55 -57
  • UK budget – inflation forecast of 4%+

UK driving license update
Last month I mentioned that anyone with a UK driving license in Spain could use it until the end of October. The UK government has just announced this has been extended until the end of 2021, so watch this space and let us hope an agreement is reached to exchange them for Spanish driving licenses, eventually.


Gift tax from a parent in the UK?
Inheritance tax is constantly a hot topic in the UK and living abroad also, but for many people it’s not always clear as to what the rules are. In Spain for example, it’s regional on what you might pay for inheritance tax/gift tax and depends on many variables, including the amount to be received, the relationship to the donor and your country of residence.

Many people are accruing more and more assets from parents when they pass on from this life, and these assets are accruing more and more in value. However, inheritance tax is not changing that much, meaning in real terms people are paying or will be paying more money in tax. Therefore, many are choosing to try to pass their wealth on as gifts before this tax continues to escalate and plan to mitigate as much as possible.

However, for those in Catalonia inheriting/receiving a gift from a parent the tax is nowhere near as much as people might think. What is important is that you declare it, and do it on time so as not to receive any penalties.

As I stated earlier, it’s very difficult to give exact numbers as everyone’s situation is different. However, if I use a regular scenario I come across it will give you a very rough idea of what you might pay:

Potential Inheritance Tax
A British person, living in Catalonia, inheriting from a parent an amount of £250,000 would pay approximately €4,000 in tax.

Potential Gift Tax
A British person, living in Catalonia, being gifted from a parent an amount of £250,000 would pay approximately €16,500 in tax. (Note this gift amount is based on the receiver owning up to €500,000 in assets prior to the gift being received and reporting this gift to the notary.

As I say, these are approximate figures, but it will give you an idea of what you might pay.

We help clients declare this correctly and also plan what is the best thing to do with their money, including buying property, paying off mortgages, increasing its intrinsic value or protecting it against inflation.

UK pension lump sum

Private/company pension access ages are to be increased
In 2015 The UK government changed pension rules so that anyone with a private pension could access the monies from age 55. This was greatly publicised, helped by an MP at the time who stated ‘If people do buy a Lamborghini but know that they’ll end up just living on the state pension, that becomes their choice’. Some people were worried people would spend all their pension money and then only have their state pension to live on. For the majority this did not happen (so far!).

Now the government has increased the age you can access your private pensions to keep in line with state pensions by 10 years, with UK state pensions claimable from age 67 for the most part. So from 6th April 2028 you must be 57 to access your private pensions.

This largely makes sense, although for many people who had started planning their retirement from age 55 it creates a problem. I have already starting helping many clients ‘plug the gap’ for this extra 2 year period which is more about changing what they are doing now to cover this eventuality in the future.

4% – inflation rising – the value of your savings decreases
In my last Top Tips I highlighted that inflation is starting to become something everyone needs to be aware of, after a decade or two of being very low. The impact it can have on your money is substantial.

The UK government in their latest budget have forecast this will go up to 4% in 2022 and maybe even higher. As I mentioned, for £100,000 you have in a bank account, in real terms this would be devaluing by £4,000 per year. CPI, the most common index that is used for measuring the ‘average basket of goods and services’ increasing or decreasing, went up by the MOST amount it ever has this last August (recorded by CPIH National Statistic 12-month inflation rate series) by almost 1% in a rolling 12-month measure.

This also brings real concerns for many people with private or corporate pension schemes, as nearly all have limits on what they will increase inflation by for your pension. This ranges from 2.5% up to 5%, therefore if inflation was to go above this your pension would not keep up with the increase in goods/services. We help clients plan and manage this potential eventuality.

Market volatility

What can I do with £100,000 that I might want access to in a year or two?
One of the hardest to plan for and the most common questions I receive is what to do with a set amount of money that clients might want to use in a year or two, but want it to gain an interest/keep up with inflation until then. In many cases, this ‘1 or 2 years’ very often turns into 5 or 6 years and that can be a very dangerous situation, especially taking into account inflation at 4% (that’s 20% decrease in value after 5 years).

There are a few things we highlight to clients, such as some ‘not so well known’ good interest savings accounts, using Premium Bonds and also talking through their situation to professionally plan their finances taking this into account. Over a long period of time this can make a big difference.

As ever our chosen partner for exchanging currency is ‘Smart Currency’, register here with them for free and see how much they could save you and transfer your monies safely, quickly and effectively.

Click Here to read reviews on Chris and his advice.

If you would like any more information regarding any of the above, or to talk through your situation initially and receive expert, factual based advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Chris Burke newsletter

Working Life vs Life Savings When Living in Spain

By Barry Davys - Topics: Exchange Rates, Living in Spain, Spain
This article is published on: 11th October 2021


Having worked hard for our money it is often the case that we forget to look after it with the same dedication as we put into our professions or businesses. We spend 40 hours plus a week (plus, plus if you run a business) working, but how much time do we spend on looking after the money we have spent all that time earning? The answer for most of us is “very little”.

Who’s this for?
This article is for all British people who live in Spain.
Work Life vs Life Savings. How we should apply our work life process to our life savings.
Why to read this article?
With a simple comparison between your work life and your “savings life” you will gain understanding on how to better look after your savings. The article even provides a solution at the end to help you implement these ideas.
Your commitment
Taking the time to read the article and requesting an initial telephone or Zoom meeting. if you want help for your specific situation.

The reasons are many fold from having a love of “things” instead of savings and security. Social and peer pressure adds to the need to buy the latest iPhone, for example. We might not understand investments so do not spend time exploring the options. We might think our savings are just put away for a rainy day and not realise that they can be used to provide us with a feeling of security because they can also provide us with lifelong income.

The reason for our lack of attention, in part, is that there is no structure in place to make sure we do give the right amount of time to our money and savings. When we are at work we have a structure, a place you go to, probably training for the job, a boss, a company mission, company values, a product line which is specific and customers who keep you on your toes. The better we get at the job the more likely we are to get a promotion.

Don’t worry. I am not suggesting you spend another 40 hours a week on top of working to look after your savings. What will make a difference, though, is if we apply these work elements to our savings.

Structure – perhaps as simple as saving regularly, or perhaps using savings type where tax is not paid whilst your money grows. Using a cashflow model to see what your financial future looks like.

A place to go – more difficult but if you have an adviser go to his/her office to discuss your situation and your requirements.

Training – there are many good books on looking after your savings. You will notice that the best concentrate on your approach to money and the process of making it grow. Not on an “investment product”. Always start with your plan and then fit the products into your plan. Do not buy a product and then wonder why you have it. This is not as easy as we might think because the adverts for financial services are mostly offering products.

A boss – if you have an adviser you become the boss and the adviser becomes your employee. If this is not the case, get a new adviser!

Mission and values – have a list of requirements for your savings, investments and pensions. It may be that you have chosen a set date to retire or how much to leave the children or many, many more objectives. Your values may include making your money grow without causing harm to the environment.

Product line – emotions guide what you want from your money but make your decisions on how to achieve that based on data. Recognise that you should build your planning on emotion and implement the plan based on data. Your work company has a limited number of products. In Europe alone we have 16,000 different possibilities in just one investment class. Even if you have a really good knowledge of how investments work you still need help with sorting the data on 16,000 options. Use an adviser with tools to analyse that data on your behalf and to give you guidance on what will best fit your plan.

How to invest in the stock market with success

Customers who keep you on your toes – the customers who will keep you on your toes for your savings are interest rates, markets, tax, rules and regulation. All of these “customers” change their minds. A very good recent example is in the markets, with the S&P 500 index of US shares from the start of Covid:

  • 9th February 2020 – 3,380.16
  • 15th March 2020 – 2304.92 (31.8% change)
  • 12th April 2020 – 2874.56 (24.7% back up)
  • 7th October 2021 – 4399.76%

*Source New York Stock Exchange

Of course this is an extreme example, but it does illustrate how you or your adviser needs to pay attention.

For those of us living in Spain we have to add in the additional issues of a tax system in the UK and a tax system in Spain. Exchange rates are another factor we need to consider.

If you would like to be the boss of your savings with an adviser who can guide you for building your plan and then use data to best work out how to implement your plan, myself and our team at the Spectrum IFA Group are here to help. With software systems for cashflow planning, an investment panel for reviewing investments, clear understanding of both UK and Spanish tax systems and ongoing support, all given in English by an adviser who lives in Spain.

For an initial call to find out more, choose a time for a phone call or Zoom meeting that is convenient for you with this link: initial telephone or Zoom meeting.

I look forward to converting our expertise and systems into easy to understand ways for you to make your plans become a reality.

External research
The better we get at the job the more likely we are to get a promotion.

Vanguard, the $7 trillion dollar fund management company, has conducted extensive analysis of the benefit of using a financial adviser. Here are some of the key findings:

People with financial advisers average a 3% better investment return.

Advisers often find ways of saving clients tax on their investments.

Some of the best opportunities to add value occur during market duress or euphoria when clients are tempted to abandon their well thought out investment plans.

One of the most important benefits is to give clients peace of mind


Minimising exposure to tax in Spain

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, Spain, Tax in Spain
This article is published on: 29th September 2021


Probably the most burning issue here on the Costa del Sol for expatriates is minimising exposure to Spanish taxes. Everywhere I go to meet and discuss matters with both clients and prospective clients, this same subject always arises. Over the years I have noticed that this subject has caused so much unhappiness with some people. And it is mostly with men, rarely with women.

The unhappiness stems from the conflict between the heart and the pocket. The heart says I want to live here, revel in this micro climate, enjoy my golf, wine and dine with my friends and basically enjoy a healthy outdoor life. My pocket says I don’t want and will not pay these taxes – particularly wealth tax. Wealth tax is alien to North European nationals, whose countries by and large do not impose this tax.

The result for some is that they are sentenced to be constantly wandering the world, on the move from one jurisdiction to another throughout the tax year, always ensuring they are not there long enough to be caught in the tax net. This can also result in stress, instability, the feeling of not belonging anywhere and some cases the cause of divorce. Women on the other hand just want to live where they will be happy, where they have access to their social circle, to their children and grandchildren, either close by or at the end of an easy inexpensive short flight. For them, the tax issue is secondary.

One only has this life once and so why not take the course of most happiness for you and your family and accept the fact there are two sure things in life – death and taxes (to quote Benjamin Franklin)? You cannot take your money with you when you depart this orb, but you can certainly minimise your taxes whilst here and leave your money to your beneficiaries with either very little inheritance tax or none at all.

Saving in Spain, ISA, Tax Free Saving in Spain

Thus, it is best to confront the tax implications head on to see what is entailed and what your potential liability is. Apart from wealth and inheritance tax, there are two other mainstream taxes in Spain – capital gains tax and income tax. These too can be mitigated and often eliminated with careful tax planning. Investment income can be sheltered from tax as well as capital gains if steps are taken early enough, particularly if you are coming to live here from another jurisdiction. Here in Andalucia, inheritance tax has for all intents and purposes been eliminated. Wealth tax carries generous allowances (particularly in the case of shared assets). There is even talk of once more eliminating wealth tax altogether but we will have to wait and see.

Of course, tax and investments are intertwined so it is important to have a good financial adviser on board. Spectrum has been advising thousands of their clients for many years with the assistance of locally qualified tax experts on the subject of taxation, which you can see in the many other articles on this website.

If you would like to talk to me more about this subject and the points raised, please contact me as per below and I would be happy to discuss this further.

UK tax rebates in Spain

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


The TT – Top Tips Newsletter

Hi everyone, I hope you are enjoying some well needed freedom and a good summer. This month’s TT covers the following Hot Topics:

  • UK passports – VERY important news on travelling to Europe
  • UK tax rebates for those moving abroad
  • New working/retirement rules in Spain

UK passports
The first news out this year, importantly for those travelling to and from Europe, was that you must have 6 months left on your UK passport to enter the country now that the UK has left the EU; this applies even if you are a resident. Those travelling may have noticed that as well as joining the ‘Non-EU passport queue’, your passport will more than likely have been stamped. The UK has issued a statement saying that if you present your TIE resident card at passport control, they will not need to stamp your passport. In my experience this is not the case so far, even though I have given them my TIE as well. This might be an issue for those people who travel regularly, as once your passport stamp pages are full a passport is not usable. You would then need to apply for a new passport on the basis of ‘exhaustion of pages’. What’s more is that some countries will not allow entry without two blank passport stamp pages. If you are renewing your passport, it might be worth requesting the larger version with more pages to cover for this eventuality. Which leads me nicely onto my next topic.

UK red passport expiry date

UK red passport expiry date
Those who have not renewed their UK passport in the last year probably will have the old red colour passport. An important announcement was made recently in respect of these and is as such: these passports are ONLY valid for 10 years exactly. What this means is, if when you last renewed your passport and had months added that were still valid from the previous passport, these do not count anymore. Thus, these passports are only valid from 10 years from their date of ISSUE.

This will not affect everyone, but for example, if your current red passport was issued in January 2012, but expires in May 2022, because there were 4 months remaining on the previous passport which were added to the new one, you will be affected. In this instance, Europe/Spain will have this passport expiring in January 2022 and to enter you must have 6 months remaining to this date.
It’s good to have things like this to worry about, because there just isn’t enough in life is there?!

Tax in Spain and the UK

UK tax rebate for those moving abroad
Anyone who has left the UK in the last four tax years is allowed to apply for a UK tax rebate. There is no way to trigger an automatic tax refund; the HMRC needs you to submit an official claim before they can refund your tax overspend.

UK tax is calculated on your projected annual income, so if you don’t complete a full UK tax year this could be wrong, and in many cases very much so.
The main reasons you should look at this are:

  • Personal allowance – you have not used the entire amount in the year you emigrate/leave
  • You continue to be a UK taxpayer but are employed in another country

The process to find out if you are due any monies is fairly straightforward:
Complete form P85, sending parts 2 & 3 of your P45 that you should have received from your employer, or a self assesment form if you were self employed.

You can read about how to do this on the official government website here:

Retiring in Spain

New part time working/retirement rules in Spain
Until recently in Spain, you either had to be working or retired from a Spanish state pension perspective. That is to say, you could not work and receive your state pension. I know, I know, it just doesn’t incentivise people who arguably have the most experience in life to contribute to the economy, as if they continue working in any capacity they cannot receive their hard worked for state pension. However, recently this has changed.
You can now receive 50% of your Spanish state pension, pay a reduced autonomo payment (self-employed monthly payment) and continue to work. As a reminder, to receive a Spanish state pension you must have contributed for 15 years and two of those years must have been within the 15 years preceding actually retiring.

If you would like more information regarding any of the above, or to talk through your situation initially and receive expert, factual advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Chris.

Click here to read reviews on Chris and his advice

Smart Banking

By John Hayward - Topics: Banking, internet banking, Spain
This article is published on: 1st September 2021


Don´t panic Mr Mainwaring!

We’re almost 2/3rds through 2021 and there seems to be a lot more optimism, in Spain at least. However, certain problems exist and are not likely to go away any time soon. One of these problems is with banks. My particular bank branch did not exactly cover itself in glory over the last 17 months or so, allowing long queues to form outside, allowing only one person in at a time (when there were three members of staff inside!?). We all understood why they were doing it, but opening for only 2¾ hours a day and then not being particularly helpful if you could get in during that short window of time, made us feel a little bit let down.

The days of the local bank manager who knew everything about you, from the details of your spending habits to what school the kids went to, have long gone. There is little or no familiarity with customers and the main aim for the bank staff these days is to sell products, often with questionable relevance to the customer and rarely explained sufficiently, in my experience.

internet banking

Let us think about the future of high-street banking. My opinion is that there will be a lot less bank branches in 10 years’ time than there are today, maybe none. I avoid going to a bank as much as I can, other than to grab some cash outside (from the machine and my account, obviously). I do all of my banking online. I have no fear of it but I appreciate that there are those who do and do not trust the system. I also appreciate that there is the possibility of fraud and theft but, as long as I follow the instructions like “Don´t give your card and pin number to someone else!”, I am confident that any money stolen will be covered by the bank. There are people who keep their card and a note of the pin number in the same handbag/wallet. The bank will not be very sympathetic in these circumstances. Also, be wary of anyone taking your card where you cannot see them. Cloning cards is a popular pastime for some. The overall feeling here is that those who do not like or want online banking will not have the choice in the future.

UK Banks closed

Everything is pointing towards branchless banking. That means people having to do all of their banking online. For me, that is perfect. The internet connection permitting, I can go to my bank at any time of the day. I don’t have to wait for it to finish a chat about the weather or the health of their cat before being attended to. I don´t have to find a home for half an Amazon Rainforest worth of paper and, generally, on the homepage there is a smiley photo of a person who may, or may not, work for the bank but that doesn´t matter. In order to perform certain actions online, you need to have registered a mobile telephone. For those not yet in the world of smartphones, it might be time to arrive. A smartphone is not essential for internet banking but the functionality of a smartphone just makes the whole process so much neater and easier (eventually). Whether you use a phone, iPad, laptop, or PC for your internet use, you will need the phone to confirm certain transactions and instructions.

I mentioned some months ago about ways of getting around bank charges that have been applicable since Brexit. Although the withdrawal agreement stated that the UK would remain part of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), certain banks decided to apply charges to UK transactions with the excuse that the UK was no longer part of the EU. They have not taken any notice of the agreement and customers have been paying exorbitant fees for banking. I have recently discovered that a client of mine has been charged €18 a month on a small private pension of around £170 per month. This is being paid to her Spanish bank and they are charging, because they can. She challenged them on this (10% fee a month) and they said that they didn’t realise that it is a pension. However, they still have not done anything about it. Therefore, I have helped the client sort out a new banking arrangement for these transfers, saving her hundreds of euros a year in bank charges, as well as providing her with an exceptional exchange rate.

Brexit has introduced new problems and highlighted existing ones. Undoubtedly, as we progress through the journey and consequences of Brexit, we will have to deal with new taxes, new charges, new barriers, and new paperwork. We at The Spectrum IFA Group can help to make that journey less painful and less complicated.

Contact me today to find out how I can help you make more from your money, protecting your income streams against inflation and low interest rates, or for any other financial and tax planning information, at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com or call or WhatsApp (+34) 618 204 731.