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Possible effects of Brexit in Spain

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: BREXIT, spain, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 6th December 2018

06.12.18

At 11pm on March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union.

Much has been written about the millions of Europeans living in the UK and the millions of Britons living in Europe, but little about the tax consequences for Britons who are non-resident in Spain but have interests in the country, mainly owning real estate properties.

Britons could lose the following tax benefits in Spain when the United Kingdom leaves the EU:

Non-resident income tax on real estate: the Spanish Government imputes a benefit in kind to owners of holiday houses that is taxable as income. By definition, a house owned by a non-resident cannot be their main home, so every non-resident owner of a house in Spain, even if it is not rented out, has to declare an imputed income and pay taxes on that income annually. The income tax rate is 19% for those living in an EU member state, Iceland and Norway, but it is 24% for the rest.

Therefore, Britons could end up paying 24% tax on the imputed income instead of current 19%.

Rental income tax: non-resident owners of Spanish properties who get income from renting them out are liable to Spanish non-resident income tax on the gross income. However, those living in an EU member state, Iceland and Norway are entitled to offset some costs from their rental income and therefore are taxed only on the net profit.

Therefore, Britons could end up paying 24% tax on gross income with no deductibles, compared to the current 19% on net profit.

Inheritance and gift tax: regional governments are empowered to regulate this tax, the consequence being that the tax liability will vary depending on the region. The difference can be substantial.

Non-residents are subject to Federal law, which is normally less favourable than Regional law. However, those living in an EU member state, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein can choose the application of the most favourable legislation for their situation, Federal law or Regional law (in which the properties of major value are located).

Therefore, Britons could lose the right to apply for Regional law. In Andalucía, for example, there is a threshold of 1 million euro, meeting certain requirements, to which Britons could not be entitled.

This is just a short list of the possible tax consequences of Brexit. The UK may join the EEA (European Economic Area) like Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. If the Norway-style agreement is adopted, a major part of EU law could still apply, but that is by no means clear at this point.

*Source: J.C. & A. Abogados

Deal or No Deal…?

By John Hayward - Topics: Article 50, BREXIT, eu citizens, spain
This article is published on: 20th November 2018

20.11.18

As someone who has lived and worked in Spain for more than 14 years, and keen to stay here with my family for the foreseeable future (children moving to other climes accepted), I am very interested in the rights of British citizens in Spain post Brexit. A colleague of mine is part of a group in Italy set up to protect the rights of British citizens there. A member of this group has put together a very comprehensive list (non-exhaustive) of things that you may need to do to prepare for a No Deal Brexit scenario, which after the events last week, seems to be becoming an ever-closer reality. I have made the list more Spanish.

Whilst there may be some deal agreed anywhere up to teatime on the 29th March 2019, there are several items on the list which many people should already be applying.

At the same time we don´t want to get caught up in scaremongering, I have come across several reassuremongers who just choose to live in the “it won´t affect me” world. There are already changes being made to British statutes in readiness for leaving the EU, with or without a deal. Getting one´s house in order now is almost certainly going to be easier than from 30th March 2019 onwards.

Here is your almost definitive list of things to do to prepare for a NO Deal Brexit.

1. MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEGALLY RESIDENT IN SPAIN UNDER CURRENT RULES.

That means you should:

  • Apply for residencia under the current rules. As an EU citizen you must register as a resident if you plan on living in Spain for more than 3 months.
  • You should register in person at the Oficina de Extranjeros (immigration office) or designated police station in the province where you live.
  • Before going to your local Oficina de Extranjeros or designated police station, you must make an appointment online, which can be done on the Spanish public administration website.
  • Once on the online appointment booking system, you should select the province where you live and then the option “Certificados UE” and follow the instructions to select and confirm your appointment time.
  • When you go to your appointment, you will be required to provide documents to support your application. You will need evidence of a specified minimum level of financial income which could be in the form of a letter from your Spanish bank manager and, if you are not working, private health insurance or an S1 (which you obtain from the UK if a pensioner). This will evidence your legal residence in Spain and give you proof that you were legally resident on 29 March 2019. This may be like gold dust in the case of a no deal exit, and if there is a Withdrawal Agreement it will help you benefit from a streamlined process to receive a new card if necessary under post-Brexit rules.
  • Years of living in Spain do not necessarily count – only legal residence. So if you have been living ‘under the radar’ so-to-speak, try to rectify the situation in advance of 29th March 2019.
  • Apply for a Residencia de carácter permanente (‘permanent residence’) under existing EU provisions if you have been legally resident for at least 5 years. It is the best evidence that most of us can have of our long-standing residence in Spain.
  • Make sure that you’ve submitted tax returns in Spain. As a resident, (whether in the first 5 years or afterwards with Residencia de carácter permanente, you are required to submit tax returns and pay tax in Spain on your global assets, income and gains even if all of them originate from the UK).
    Make sure that you either have private health insurance (obligatory for the first 5 years of residence unless you have an S1 from the UK or are working), or that you’re registered in the Spanish health system (e.g. you already have a Residencia de carácter permanente under existing EU provisions).

2. CREATE, AND KEEP UP TO DATE, A DOSSIER, AS IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR RESIDENCIA OR RESIDENCIA DE CARÁCTER PERMANENTE OR CIUDADANÍA ESPAÑOLA, IN PARTICULAR:

  • Collate copies of as many of your tax returns as you can get – tax returns, proofs of payment and receipt. These days there is online access to your tax files and records.
  • Put together a file of utility bills for at least 10 years if you can. This will prove your continued residence.
  • If your name is not on the bills for your household, or on any utility bills, get it added now.
  • For women in particular: make sure that the name on bills, bank statements, pension statements, payslips etc. matches the name on your passport if possible.
  • Put together a file of bank statements, wage slips and/or pension statements for the last 5 years if you’ve lived here that long. Longer is even better – 10 years is best. You may need these to prove the stability and sufficiency of your resources.

3. CHECK YOUR PASSPORT
Make sure your passport will be valid for several months after 29 March 2019. If not, consider renewing it early. Also, check your signature.

4. MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN SPAIN ON 29TH AND 30TH MARCH 2019
This is probably not the best time to make a family visit to the UK! Transport could be chaotic, with no agreements on air or other travel between the UK and EU.

5. TOP UP YOUR MEDICATION

  • If you currently rely on an S1 form for access to the Spanish health service and/or you need regular medication, think about making sure you have a good supply of it on 29 March 2019.
  • If the worst happens and the reciprocal health care system stops on that date it might take several weeks to get an alternative system up and running and there may be short term chaos. Making sure that you have the permitted 3 months of long-term medication would mean that you’d avoid having to pay full whack for your meds or being without a family doctor while the situation was resolved.

6. CHECK YOUR DRIVING LICENCE

  • If you’re still using a UK driving licence, apply for a Spanish licence now. It’s relatively straightforward and for most people, it can be exchanged (with some fees and a medical) without having to take a full Spanish driving test (theory and practical). It’s possible that UK licences will not be valid in the EU in the case of a no deal Brexit.
  • Consider applying for an International Driving Permit if you regularly drive in the UK.

7. THINK ABOUT MOVING MONEY
If you have bank accounts, savings or investments in the UK, consider moving them to Spain or into Spanish compliant vehicles, or some other EU jurisdiction now. Sterling may drop suddenly in the case of a no deal exit; there may also be temporary problems moving money in and out of the EU.

8. TRY TO HAVE A FINANCIAL BACKSTOP
If at all possible, try and make sure you have access to enough cash to see you through two or three months, especially if your income comes from the UK and is transferred monthly.

9. CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL PENSION
If you have a personal pension (not state or public service occupational) and have not yet retired, think seriously about cashing it in if you’re old enough (take financial advice on the tax implications of cashing it in before doing so), or transferring it. A detailed pension analysis would be required to look at the suitability of doing so but it might just be possible to remove your pension from future UK political and tax problems as a result of No Deal Brexit scenario. There may be issues with passporting rights after Brexit that could cause problems with insurers making payments to those living outside the UK.

10. LOOK AT WAYS YOU CAN MAXIMISE YOUR INCOME AND MINIMISE YOUR EXPENSES

  • This applies particularly if the bulk of your income is in sterling, which may take a serious hit after a no deal exit. Can you survive if sterling hits parity? Goes below parity? What’s your bottom line? What can you do to turn your income into euro income?
  • Create a personal financial contingency plan. Look at ways you can cut your spending temporarily, and at ways you could create additional income.
    Get any potentially expensive dental or optical work done now.

11. IF YOU HAVE A BUSINESS THAT RELIES ON ATTRACTING PEOPLE FROM THE UK.

  • Can you change your client demographic? Whatever the deal or no deal, British people may limit their travel to the EU next year and you may need to find new clients if you’re to survive financially. Make sure you have a website in the language of the nationality of people you may wish to attract, if you haven’t already, and that you begin to advertise NOW to attract other customers.
  • But …
  • If there is a no-deal Brexit, it is uncertain as to whether you will be able to continue to run a business at all.
  • Even if there is a deal, you may not be able to provide services to customers in other Member States: that is still to be decided.

12. PUT SOME WORK INTO LEARNING SPANISH

  • Whether there is a deal or not, we may be required to re-apply for residencia and/or Residencia de carácter permanente.
  • We do not know whether a minimum level of Spanish language ability will be required (to date it has not been), but it is a good opportunity to work on the language skills. If nothing else, it opens other social doors and means you don´t have to stick to the same bar, club, or shop

13. THINK ABOUT, OR RE-THINK ABOUT, APPLYING FOR SPANISH CITIZENSHIP

  • For many people, their British identity and nationality is important to them and the idea of taking out Spanish citizenship has been regarded as ‘only as a last resort’. For some of us, a no deal Brexit might be that ‘last resort’. Spanish citizenship won’t guarantee all the rights you currently hold as an EU citizen (mutual recognition of professional qualifications, for example) but it will guarantee you the right to reside and to work – and as an EU citizen you’d continue to benefit from full free movement rights.
  • It you are thinking of applying for Spanish citizenship, try to ensure your application is lodged before 29 March 2019. The Spanish authorities do not say how long the process will take but assume at least months (las cosas de pálacio van despacio). In addition, language tests will be required (see point 13). If you’ve already made the application, there is more chance of everything passing through than if you wait till after 29 March when all the rules may change.
  • Be aware that taking out Spanish citizenship may affect the taxation of certain pensions and you should take good financial advice before applying.

14. MARRY A SPANIARD
This may not be as easy as it once was, with changes to immigration laws, but it might be a solution for you, especially where children are involved.

15. GET YOUR PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS RECOGNISED NOW

  • The European Commission has said that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, Brexit does not affect decisions made pre-Brexit by EU27 countries recognising UK qualifications under the general EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC). For details of which qualifications are covered see
  • ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/services/free-movement-professionals/qualificationsrecognition_en
  • So if you have a UK qualification covered by that Directive and you need to be able to use it, apply to get it recognised before March 30th 2019.

16. ABOVE ALL…DON’T PANIC.

  • This is about hoping (and working) for the best, while preparing for the worst. Whatever happens, you won’t be alone.

And there you have it. There isn’t a better list anywhere about what to do in a NO Deal Scenario. I would like to say that I think that some kind of deal/arrangement will be agreed in the end because there is too much at stake on both sides of the Brexit divide, BUT I have to admit that I was wrong about Brexit happening in the first place and also about the election of Donald Trump as US president. I was convinced neither would happen. This time I am taking precautions and implementing most of the items on this list. I hope you do too.

Arts Society de la Frontera – Costa del Sol, Spain

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Costa del Sol, Events, spain
This article is published on: 20th October 2018

20.10.18

The Spectrum IFA Group again co-sponsored an excellent Arts Society de la Frontera lecture on 17th October at the San Roque Golf & Country Club on the Costa del Sol. We were represented by one of our local and long-serving advisers, Charles Hutchinson, who attended along with our co-sponsors Richard Brown and Harriette Collings from Tilney Investment Management. Tilney were invited to a private lunch afterwards where they met potential clients.

The Arts Society de la Frontera (previously named the Decorative & Fine Arts Society) is a leading arts charity which opens up the world of the arts through a network of local societies (such as in Spain) and national events throughout the world.
With inspiring monthly lectures given by some of the world’s top experts, together with days of special interest, educational visits and cultural holidays, the Arts Society is a great way to learn, have fun and make new and lasting friendships.

At this event, over 175 attendees (probably a record Spectrum sponsored attendance) were entertained by a talk on Gold in paintings and wall coverings entitled “As Good as Gold” by Alexander Epps who is one of the UK’s top experts in this field. She gave an excellent talk and engaged the audience for almost an hour!

The talk was followed by the sponsored drinks reception which included a free raffle for prizes including CH produced Champagne, wine, a tea set and a lovely coffee table book on Gold craftsmanship. Tilney also supplied a cocktail shaker designed and beautifully crafted by Viscount Linley, the Queen’s nephew, which caused a further stir after their last event’s prize!

All in all, a great turnout and a very successful event at a wonderful venue. The Spectrum IFA Group are very proud to be involved with such a fantastic organisation and we are booked to sponsor further lectures this December and March next year.

The danger of waiting for Brexit

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Interest rates, Investment Risk, Investments, spain
This article is published on: 16th October 2018

16.10.18

There are many things that we don´t know the answers to regarding Brexit. There are even questions that we don´t yet know. However, some facts are known. One of these is concerning investing, or not, since 20th February 2016. This was the day that David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, announced that there would be a referendum on the UK´s membership of the EU. People have been fearful due to the uncertainty as to what will happen post-Brexit.

In the last two and a half years, life has continued and investment markets have risen significantly. At the same time, inflation hasn´t disappeared just because Brexit is on the menu. Figure 1 below shows how the FTSE100 has performed since 20th February 2016 along with the UK Retail Price Index. With dividends reinvested, £100,000 would now be worth £131,000.

If we adjust for inflation, this would be more like £119,000, but still a 19% increase. If the £100,000 had been left in a bank account, with no interest which is commonplace these days, the inflation adjusted value would now be more like £91,000. Waiting for Brexit has cost the wait and see person £9,000.

Figure 1. Performance of the FTSE100 since the referendum announcement in February 2016 along with the UK Retail Price Index.

There are people who are not happy taking on investments which carry risk. If we ignore the risk of inflation for the time-being, we have solutions which can cater for those who are happy taking some investment risk but without the volatility of stocks and shares. Figure 2 shows that an investment with approximately an eighth* of the risk of the FTSE100 has still managed to perform well, certainly when compared to inflation.

One must bear in mind costs, but even allowing for these, people who were invested through us on 20th February 2016 would have seen an increase of around 15%. Taking inflation into consideration, this would produce a figure of around 5%. However, comparing this with not being invested would have left the “wait and see” person some £14,000 down.

Figure 2. Performance of a low risk investment along with the UK Retail Price Index

With the exchange rate between GBP and Euros down about 12% over the same period, the need to receive more income from investments has become even more important, especially for those with income in GBP and costs in Euros. Losing 20% in real spending power has proven to be a tough pill to swallow. Get in contact so that the possible “Never Ending Story” called Brexit doesn´t lose you even more over the coming years.

* Source: Financial Express

Inheritance Tax in Catalonia

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Catalonia, Catalunya, Inheritance Tax, spain
This article is published on: 11th October 2018

11.10.18

In the circle of life, it’s an unfortunate occurrence that parents or relatives pass on from this world we live in and leave an inheritance, whether that is property, money, investments or other assets. The value of this inheritance may or may not be the kind you are used to having or looking after, and that is where we/ I come in, to make sure this your inheritance is safe and looked after, taking into account your life situation both now, and in the future.

How is this inheritance taxed in Catalonia though? I hear many stories or ideas among people I meet but no one seems to know for sure, or get it right anyway. One of the reasons for this is that it depends on where the money comes from, i.e. which country and what asset is being received. Many of my clients are from the UK, how does it also work there? In the UK it is usually very simple, if someone dies being resident in the UK and leaves you assets up to £325,000,there is usually no Inheritance Tax (Paid by the estate); anything over this is taxed at 40%. However, in Catalonia it is not that simple (Surprise surprise, I hear you say!) and alongside what is declared and maybe tax payable in the UK, you must also declare and pay the relevant tax here

Firstly, Inheritance tax in Catalunya is paid for by the receive, not the estate, and very importantly, you have 6 months to declare this inheritance, EVEN if you haven’t received it yet (this is from the date of decease) or you will be fined the following way, on the amount of tax you are liable to pay:

  • 5% in the following 3 months (i.e. months 6-9 since death)
  • 10% from 3 months to 6 months
  • 15% from 6 months to 12 months
  • 20% plus interests after 12 months

The good news is that there are discounts on inheritance tax in Catalonia, and most people are surprised by the amount of tax they have to pay, in a good way. To start with, there is usually no tax to pay on the first €100,000 being received if you are a child or spouse of the deceased. If you are a parent of the deceased, the allowance is €30,000 and any other relative receives a €50,000 nil tax amount including grandchildren.

From this point on, there are further reductions between 97-99% and there are also other factors to be taken into account, such as are the children under 21, disabled or if from a family business. The quickest and simplest way, I feel, to give you an idea of what tax you would pay is if I use the most common example, of a parent living outside of Spain, leaving their child whom is living in Catalonia an amount of money/asset not including property (there would potentially be extra tax deductions for receiving this):

Example (guideline) of someone tax resident in Catalonia, inheriting from a parent in the UK:

Amount to be inherited Tax due in Catalonia
€100,000 €0
€250,000 €383.82
€500,000 €4,300.05
€750,000 €16,866.68
€1,000,000 €40,473.29

These are approximate and we always suggest getting in touch to confirm exactly what the amount would be, and for help declaring it. For the assets themselves, it is worth knowing that many assets overseas are not always efficient to have while living in Catalonia. For example, investments or Isas in the UK are declarable and tax payable on any gain in Spain annually, EVEN if you do not take any of the money, unlike in the UK. This is where we help our clients to get organised efficiently and manage the assets if needed.

If you have any questions relating to any of these points, or anything similar, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Brexit uncertainty and much more…

By John Hayward - Topics: BREXIT, Costa Blanca, spain, UK bank accounts
This article is published on: 19th September 2018

19.09.18

Brexit uncertainty, losing access to UK bank accounts, victims of mis-sold pension and investment plans, personal visits from HMRC, and kids (sort of) go back to school

Brexit uncertainty
Not for the first time, I was asked how Brexit would affect my work in Spain. My standard answer is I don´t know, in the same way I don´t know for sure what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, irrespective of the forecasts which are given. Based on warnings, especially from social media sources, the weekend should have seen us floating down to Masymas on a dinghy. As it turned out, we had a pretty heavy shower providing some surface water in which a toy dinghy would probably have avoided running aground. Of course, I understand that other parts of Spain have suffered; coastal areas have been hit with tornadoes and waterspouts. My point is, even if you have a good idea what is going to happen, it is rare that things will happen as predicted. In fact, I´m not sure that anyone actually predicted the tornadoes. This happens so often in the financial world. With Brexit, I do not know what will happen. Deal or no deal. Take the money or open the box. Perhaps just phone a friend when necessary. I will just continue to jump the hurdles as they are laid out and not base my actions, or those of my family, on media guesswork, which is often a mile off the result.

Losing access to UK bank accounts
Headlines, both in newspapers and on the television, gave a couple of elderly people a shock. They believed they would lose access to their UK bank accounts after a no deal Brexit. This story first appeared in August this year and was highlighted again this week on television. The fact is that there will be certain banking facilities which, if there is no deal, may or may not, be available for a person living outside the UK. This refers more to deposit and loan arrangements, not to the account itself. Receiving money in the form of a pension may also be an issue in that, according to those who appear to know, making a payment from a UK pension to an EU country will be illegal. The alternative will be to have the payment made to a UK bank account for onward transfer to, say, Spain. For those, especially pensioners, who do not have a UK bank account after moving to Spain, it would be a good idea to open one in readiness for what might happen.

Mis-sold pension and investment plans
Unfortunately, I am being asked to help more and more with people who are suffering from poor financial advice. They have savings and pension arrangements that contain investments which arguably are not suitable and, to make matters worse, have not performed leaving policyholders with significant losses. In some cases, there is little we can do. The damage has already been done. However, in other cases we can restructure without incurring additional large set up costs, which are often part of the reason why these plans have not performed. We are always willing to take a look at investments without charging anything. If there is something that we can do, it will be organised in a fair and equitable manner with the details, blood, guts, and all, explained before you commit.

HMRC comes to the Costa Blanca
There was a presentation in Moraira this week with representatives from Her Majesty´s Revenue and Customs focusing on the obligation for UK tax residents to declare income from assets they hold outside the UK such as rent from a property or interest (no joke intended) on bank deposits or gains on investments. People have up until 30th September 2018 to make this declaration. For more detail you can visit this page from the UK Government website: www.gov.uk/government/news/hmrc-warns-its-time-to-declare-offshore-assets

The concern for some people was that they, as Spanish residents, had to declare, having missed the point, understandably, that the declaration was to be made by UK residents for foreign assets outside the UK. We already have the asset declaration for Spanish tax residents in the form of the Modelo 720. At Spectrum we can show you ways to position money within investments in what will still be EU jurisdictions post Brexit so that a) you don´t have to worry about what happens once the UK leaves b) you don´t have to declare the investment separately as this is carried out on your behalf and c) the beneficial tax calculation will still apply.

Kids back to school
Friday 7th September was the last day of summer holidays for our children, although my son will argue that they will continue until Christmas when the festive season kicks in. Since they were last in school, what seems like 10 months ago, but is actually only (!) 10 weeks, it is guaranteed that there will be a book missing or a broken pink pencil, our daughter´s favourite. However, we cannot get too excited. For our daughter, September is only half days and so work/school juggling is still a skill we have to develop.

To find out how we can help you with our financial planning in a manner protecting you and your loved ones, contact me at john.hayward@spectrum-ifa.com or call/WhatsApp 0034 618 204 731

Exchange of Information – CRS

By Chris Webb - Topics: Exchange of Information, spain
This article is published on: 30th August 2018

30.08.18

It surprises me that today I am still meeting with people who are blissfully unaware of the global exchange of information, or common reporting standards, that started back in January 2016, with the first actual exchange of information taking place in 2017.

Why am I surprised? Well, for starters, I meet with and hear of people who still attempt to keep their assets under the radar of the relevant tax office, in the belief that if they haven’t declared it or aren’t actively using the asset it won’t appear on any tax or government system.

In Spain, this immediately brings the Modelo 720 reporting requirement to mind, but that’s another topic, which I have already written an article on and which can be found on our website. The CRS is bringing AUTOMATIC exchange of information to the table…

Ultimately, this means that it is now more important than ever to make sure you have reported and are declaring income and assets in the right country.

From January 2016, financial institutions in around 50 countries began collecting information on their clients and their accounts. The purpose of collecting the data in 2016 was to share it with the client’s country of residence in 2017, which was the start date for the actual sharing.

This is not a one-off thing; the exchange of information will be repeated every year, and every year more and more countries are joining the group. According to the Gov.UK website another 53 countries started collecting the information in 2017 to report it in 2018, and in 2018 another 4 countries will begin the process and fulfil reporting to the relevant authorities in 2019.

Looking at the list here: www.gov.uk/guidance/automatic-exchange-of-information-introduction you will see that most countries of any relevance to the majority of us are listed. Refer to the note relating to the US as the US exchanges information globally under its FATCA initiative – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

In fact, I only know of one person who could possibly be in the section where no agreement is in place… yet.

It is important to note that this is a regulatory procedure and there are no choices. It is carried out under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Quite simply, this means that there is nowhere to hide anymore; this loss of financial privacy affects us all. If you live in one country and have assets in another, your information WILL be shared between countries. Your local tax authority will automatically receive information on the financial assets you own overseas.

One potential client fully believes that this will only happen if your tax affairs are being investigated or if the tax office is querying a specific asset. This is not true, they do not have to request the information because they will receive it automatically.

As an example, if you are a tax resident in Spain and have bank accounts in the UK and investment portfolios in the Isle of Man, the Hacienda will automatically receive the information on these accounts / portfolios from the tax authorities in the countries where the assets sit.

You will probably have noticed that your banks or financial institutions, from outside your country of residence, have been sending you forms to complete to confirm your tax residency. This is a legal requirement on their part. Even not returning these forms doesn’t help you as they will simply assume you are still a resident of the country that you last registered with them, therefore will still report to that tax authority.

The information they will be sharing about your financial assets includes personal data such as your name and address, country of tax residence and tax identification number. They will also be reporting information relating to your accounts such as account balances, investment income, interest earned, dividend payments, income from certain insurance policies and any proceeds from the sale of assets.

As you will have seen above, this sharing / reporting requirement is now firmly in place. In September 2017 the first jurisdictions exchanged their data. Importantly for my clients this list of Jurisdictions includes the UK, Spain and most other EU countries. It also includes the Isle of Man, Jersey and the Cayman Islands which were, historically, places people looked at when placing their financial assets.

Hopefully you can see the importance of understanding exchange of information, or CRS. Think about the complications that could arise… When the local tax office receives information about your assets or income abroad, they will automatically be able to cross reference whether you have accurately reported total global income on your tax return.

For residents of Spain it has taken the Modelo 720 reporting requirement to another level. The Hacienda will now be able to compare the data they are given with your Modelo 720 declaration. In my opinion, it makes the Modelo 720 redundant, BUT it is still a legal obligation to file it!

Tax residents of Spain are liable to pay Spanish tax on their worldwide income, gains and wealth. This includes most income which is also taxed elsewhere, although double taxation agreements mean you aren’t taxed twice. It is still a common misconception that if you have income taxable in the UK then it doesn’t need to be declared in Spain. I can’t reiterate enough how wrong this is. Even if you have made a tax declaration in another country you still need to make the declaration in Spain.

If you haven’t been doing this, I strongly recommend that you regularise your tax affairs as soon as possible. This would also be the right time to look at all your financial affairs.

Most people I meet have several bank accounts and sometimes several investment portfolios and products. When asked they don’t really know why they are set up the way they are, it has just been that way for years. Streamlining your financial affairs can ease the administrative burden now and certainly later in life.

Living in Spain makes it even more important to review your financial assets. What may be “tax free” in the UK is not necessarily “tax free” in Spain.
Are your financial assets approved here in Spain? You probably wouldn’t know unless the differences had been explained to you.

In Spain we have what are deemed compliant products. If you have a compliant bond you will find it is EU based; if you discover your financial solution is based in The Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey it is deemed non-compliant. This isn’t meant to be confusing; they are not illegal, but they must be reported to Hacienda and please note that they are taxed differently to a Spanish compliant bond.

The Spectrum IFA Group will only ever recommend a solution that is compliant and tax efficient in your country of residence. In Spain we will not recommend solutions outside of the “approved area”. This is for your benefit!
For a free, no obligation review of you financial assets please get in touch at chris.webb@spectrum-ifa.com or 639118185. If you are in the Madrid region I will personally meet with you, if you live in any other part of Spain OR Europe let me know and I can put you in touch with our local office there.

Moving to, or living in Spain after Brexit – What do you need to do?

By Chris Burke - Topics: BREXIT, Residency, spain
This article is published on: 20th August 2018

20.08.18

If you have been living in Spain lawfully for at least five years, you will be able to apply for indefinite permission to reside there, which is termed ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’ simply meaning ‘long term residence permit’. Note that you cannot apply until the UK has ‘potentially’ finally left the EU.

Apart from this, there are four main conditions to be able to remain in Spain after Brexit:

  1. No criminal record
  2. That you have not been ejected from Spain OR from a country which Spain has a verbal agreement with
  3. You have private health insurance
  4. You have a net monthly income of at least €799 for a family of two, and a further €266 per month for each additional family member

However, if after Brexit you have not been in Spain for 5 years but are living there legally, there is no great need to worry. The time you have spent there will count towards the 5 years and as long as you meet the above criteria, you will then be able to apply for the ‘permiso de residencia de larga duracion’. What you might have to do though, is apply for permission for what you will be doing in Spain. For example, if a retiree, you might need to ask to be that in Spain. Or, if you wish to work (see more about this below) you will need to apply for this also. If you wish to holiday for less than 3 months at a time, then you should not need to apply to remain in Spain for this. Before Brexit, obviously none of this was required.

Working, or not working, in Spain – after Brexit
If you wish to move to Spain after Brexit, but NOT work in Spain, you will need to apply for a ‘permiso de residencia no lucrativa’ meaning essentially a ‘non profit visa’. You will also have to prove you have money to live on, such as a regular permanent income (a salary would not count for this) or through bank statements showing that a minimum balance has been maintained over at least the last year, with your name and account number.

If you are an employee of a company in Spain, then they should be taking care of your application to stay.

Moving to Spain after Brexit as self employed
If you are looking to move to Spain and work for yourself, you can apply to be self employed, or ‘Autonomo’. You will need to be able to demonstrate the following, as well as applying for permanent residence as set out above, i.e. ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’. The commercial activity you will be doing must comply with Spanish rules and you must:

  1. have the relevant qualifications
  2. have sufficient funds to invest in the activity to make it viable
  3. give the number of people you will employ, if any
  4. have sufficient funds to support yourself, on top of the funds for the activity (see above)
  5. Provide a business plan which makes sense to the Spanish Authorities
  6. not be suffering from a serious illness

Retiring in Spain after Brexit
When looking to retire in Spain after Brexit, there will be several criteria to fulfil and adhere to in your application. Those are:

  1. No illnesses that are a serious public risk (eg smallpox, SARS)
  2. €2130 monthly income for the main earner in the family, and an additional €532 for each dependant
  3. Proof of ability to sustain this income for one year

Note, after you have resided in Spain for 5 years, you can then apply for ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’ as mentioned above and will only need to adhere to those criteria moving forward from that point.

The process – what happens when you are accepted?
When you have been accepted, you will be issued a visa within 1 month and you must enter Spain within 3 months for this to remain valid. If you have permission to work and you do not register with the social security office within three months of your arrival, your right to remain will lapse.

Where to apply when moving to Spain, after Brexit
To apply for permission to live in Spain, you go to your local Spanish Consulate, even if you are not living in your country of origin. The process is thus: the Spanish consulate confirms whether all the relevant documents are in order and that everything has been provided that needs to be. They, in turn, send this to a Spanish Government office who will decide if they will give you permission to move to Spain.

If your application is successful
If applying to live in Spain without working and you are successful, you can then pick up your visa within one month. If applying to work, you will then be asked to make this application, again within one month, once you have been given the ok to reside in Spain.

The visas are valid for one year, when it needs to be renewed for periods of two years moving forward. During this whole time, you need to abide by the rules mentioned above including having the required income to live/run your business. Then, after you have lived in Spain for five years you can apply for ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’ and solely adhere to those rules, again as mentioned above.
Once you have moved to Spain legally, your rights, taxes and your families rights will be the same as any citizen of the EU. Like everyone else, having lived in Spain for 10 years, you can, if you wish, apply for Spanish residency. To do this you need to demonstrate that you have integrated into Spanish society, including speaking the language and understanding the culture.

If you would like to receive further important updates on living in or moving to Spain, as an English speaker, sign up to Chris’s Newsletter here:

Tips on Moving to Spain before Brexit

By Chris Burke - Topics: BREXIT, spain
This article is published on: 24th July 2018

24.07.18

With the UK likely to leave the EU in 2019, many people are making the move and leaving the UK whilst it is arguably still easier to do so than it will be after Brexit. But what are the key things you need to do in order to be organised from a personal financial advice point of view? Here I have listed my ‘Top Tips on moving to Spain’, the main areas I point people in when making the move, or having just arrived in Spain. This could save you a lot of time, money and headaches, and is only a small example of the way I help clients living here in Spain.

  • Confirming Non UK Resident Status with the HMRC
  • Potential Tax Rebate
  • National Insurance Contributions Whilst Abroad
  • Checking Your National Insurance Contributions
  • Becoming Tax Resident in Spain
  • Existing Investment Organisation
  • Inheritance
  • Healthcare
  • Life Insurance
  • Wills
  • Property
  • Private Pensions
  • Banking
  • Why Move to Spain Before Brexit

Please click on each link below to find out more regarding that area of expertise:

Confirming Non UK Resident Status with the HMRC
Tell the HMRC that you will no longer be a UK resident by filling in form P85, informing your local council and the UK state pensions department. This is important for the following reasons:

Potential Tax Rebate

In many cases you could receive a tax rebate, depending on which part of the tax year you leave in. Tax is taken from your wages and worked out on what you are paid each month, starting with the first month. Therefore, if your final UK salary payment is in September having been earning £4,000 per month, for example, that means the following months until the end of the tax year, in March, you won’t be paid anything. Therefore, because the HMRC would have been taxing you on the basis of completing that financial year, the tax you owe could well be reduced and in many cases a rebate will be applicable.

National Insurance Contributions Whilst Abroad

You can apply for Non Resident relief when living abroad, meaning that you can pay National Insurance contributions in the UK at half the cost, so around £11 per month (which mathematically is worth doing, considering life expectancy in Europe of 84). You can also backdate these up to 6 years if you have been out of the UK that long and haven’t been paying.
www.gov.uk/national-insurance-if-you-go-abroad

Checking Your National Insurance Contributions

You can see how many years National Insurance contributions you have by entering your number on the link below:
www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record

Becoming Tax Resident in Spain

It is important that when you move to Spain you choose the right tax regime to be part of. For example, if you are working for a Spanish entity, you may be able to apply for The Beckham Law, which means all worldwide income will be taxed for 5 complete tax years at least, at a flat rate of 24% (as opposed the normal rate of up to 46%).

Or, if you live in Spain, work for a Spanish company and spend up to two weeks of the month outside of Spain on business, you may be able to deduct tax for every day you are away proportionally. So, that could mean up to half the tax payable.
IMPORTANT – Some of these tax regimes only give you a limited time to apply for them. For example, within 6 months of paying tax here you have to apply for the Beckham Law.

It may also be of benefit to set up a Spanish company instead of becoming self employed, the main rule of thumb here being if your income is likely to be consistently over €60,000 per annum.

Existing Investment Organisation

Any investments you have when you become tax resident in Spain (that is, spending more than 6 months a year in Spain and having your economic centre of interests there being the deciding factors) will be reportable in Spain and might not be as tax efficient as they should be. For example, many asset classes such as ISAs or stock/share/fund investments (unless structured in a certain way) are declarable each year and tax is payable on any gains, whether you take any of that money or not. In some cases, you can have your assets organised so this is not the case, and the tax can potentially be reduced when you do withdraw any money.

Inheritance

In Spain, rules on giving away your assets are very strict and you are limited in what you can give away per year without incurring any tax. This is an area that is worth considering and organising before you leave the UK. In the UK there is usually no inheritance tax to pay on small gifts you make out of your normal income, such as Christmas or birthday presents. These are known as ‘exempted gifts’. There’s also no inheritance tax to pay on gifts between spouses or civil partners. You can give them as much as you like during your lifetime, as long as they live in the UK permanently. However, other people you gift to will be charged inheritance tax if you give away more than £325,000 in the 7 years before your death. See the sliding scale below:

In Spain, gift tax depends on the age of the person and their relationship to you. In many circumstances you receive a €100,000 exemption, following which a sliding scale up to 20% is applied in tax. Spouses can claim up to 99% relief. It is imperative to look at this before you move.

Years between gift and death Tax paid
less than 3 40%
3 to 4 32%
4 to 5 24%
5 to 6 16%
6 to 7 8%
7 or more 0%

Healthcare

When you first arrive in Spain, registering at your local health centre should be a priority in case of illness. The requirements can change, but at present the following should be sufficient for you to acquire an individual health card (Tarjeta Sanitaria). This will enable you to register with a doctor, visit a health drop in centre (in Barcelona a Capsalut) and purchase prescription drugs:

  • NIE (tax number/residence certificate)
  • Rental contract of your apartment
  • Social Security number
  • Empadronamiento (document from the town hall confirming where you live)

Life Insurance

Insurance in Spain, in general, can be much more expensive than in the UK, and life insurance is an example of that. Many insurance companies will allow you to carry on with the life insurance you have in the UK, but you must get this confirmed in writing by them. To give you an example, I have seen an insurance cover in the UK at £22 per month, costing over €100 euro per month in Spain, and the cost is not fixed for life like it generally is in the UK.

Wills

Foreign residents of Spain are not permitted to give away more than the freely disposed part of their estate (one-third) as the rest is reserved for the ‘obligatory heirs’. If an international or Spanish will is made stipulating that the laws of a person’s home nationality apply, however, no aspects of Spanish inheritance law will apply to either Spanish or worldwide assets. In layman’s terms, if you are British, you can choose UK law and therefore leave your assets as you see fit without having to adhere to Spain’s rules.

If your estate is dealt with under Spanish inheritance law, ‘forced heirship’ rules apply (known as the ‘Law of Obligatory Heirs’ in Spain). This means there are restrictions on how you distribute your estate, as a certain percentage needs to be set aside for certain relatives.

The Law of Obligatory Heirs states that if the deceased was married at the time of death, the spouse keeps 50 percent of all jointly owned property. The remaining 50 percent is put towards the estate. The estate is divided into three equal portions:

  • One-third is divided between surviving children in equal shares
  • One-third is reserved for surviving children but can be distributed equally or unequally according to instructions in a will. The surviving spouse retains a ‘life interest’ (usufruct) in this part of the estate and the children do not inherit until the spouse dies
  • One-third can be disposed of freely in a will
  • If there are no children, then surviving parents are entitled to one-third if there is a surviving spouse, or 50 percent if not

Property

This is currently a very popular asset to buy in Spain. Key points to be aware of compared to the UK are the extra taxes/costs (approx 13% costs on top of the purchase price of a property in Barcelona) and that the market is not as regulated as the UK, which means that there are estate agents out there that are just interested in their commission. You MUST make sure you purchase a property with a Cedula (certificate that the building has passed health and safety required by Spanish law) and certificado de habitabilidad (this means the property meets the minimum standard for living in), otherwise, you might not get a mortgage and also it will be difficult to sell later as it is not a legal place to live.

If you have never lived in the place you are moving to, I strongly suggest renting an apartment for a period of time, maybe even a couple in different Barrios/areas. That way you will get a feel of what works for you. In many cases, renting actually works out cheaper than buying somewhere, even taking into account the recent rental price increases.

Private Pensions

There are sometimes tax implications on moving your pension outside of the UK, which many people have done for the resulting benefits. In the last couple of years, 25% taxes have been implemented depending on where you move your UK pension to. There are opinions that this charge could apply to the EU, should Brexit go ahead. If you are planning to move abroad, either before or after Brexit, looking into this possibility will give you the options and knowledge to assess and make an informed decision.

Banking

Banks in Spain can be very ‘charge’ friendly and don’t always fully explain how your account works. Usually when you arrive banks will give you a ‘Non resident’ account, incurring extra costs and charges. However, you can quickly open up a ‘Resident’ bank account with no everyday running costs, such as bank transfers or costs for withdrawing money from their own ATMs. To qualify for a ‘Residents’ bank account and bypass potential costs you need to transfer in €600-€700 per month.

Why Move to Spain Before Brexit?

There will be certain criteria to meet to be able to move to Spain after Brexit, in particular if you are self employed or own your own business. This is expected to include a year’s cash flow in the bank, private medical insurance, proof that your business is viable and if retiring, a minimum income of around €2,200. I have a much more in depth article you can read if you wish to know more about this.

If you have questions relating to these points, or anything similar, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Are you moving to Spain?

By The Spectrum IFA Group Spain - Topics: Beckham Law, Modelo 720, spain
This article is published on: 11th July 2018

11.07.18

If you are considering a move to Spain, or have recently arrived, there are a few basic steps to follow which will help with managing and improving your finances. The list below is intended for general guidance only, but refers to some of the key points consider as part of your early financial planning.

First, an update on Brexit

Whilst departure terms between the UK and EU are yet to be finalised, the status of British expatriates living in Europe has largely been agreed, in principle at least. From state pension escalation, to health care cover and rights on residency and employment, first phase negotiations concluded (eventually) with consensus on protection of citizens’ rights.
Of course, agreement still needs to be formalised and as the EU/UK progress agreement highlights, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. But for now, at least, it is looking like existing expatriates’ rights are likely to be recognised beyond April 2019.

Buying a property

From the initial and legally binding ‘pago de arras’, the legal process of buying a property is markedly different from UK conveyancing.

It is important to engage a knowledgeable lawyer, ideally English speaking if you do not speak Spanish. Your lawyer will liaise with and arrange your meeting with a notary, which is legal a requirement in Spain for the property buying process. Resident and Non-resident tax obligations vary and require reviewing on an individual basis.

Mortgages

Seek guidance on the wide range of borrowing options available, from the national banks to smaller regional lenders. An independent mortgage specialist will identify the most competitive and flexible mortgages available and ensure suitability for your specific borrowing requirements, as well as introducing you to trustworthy and reliable legal and professional services, a must in Spain when purchasing or selling property. It is important to note that banks do not make mortgage offers without the property being secured. (See below for our independent mortgage brokers, Spectrum International Mortgages Spain)

Bank accounts

Familiarise yourself with the various current and savings accounts available, from the cuenta corriente (current account) to tax efficient ‘Cuentas de Ahorro’, or savings accounts. It is important also to note that bank managers tend to move branches frequently, so finding a bank you like is more important in the longer term than a friendly bank manager or ‘Director’.

Tax Residency

Please note you cannot choose where to be tax resident. The law dictates when this will happen and you do not necessarily have to complete any forms to be treated as tax resident. If you meet one of these following conditions you will be a tax resident:

● If you are in Spain for more than 183 days in any calendar year
● If your “centre of interests” are considered to be in Spain eg. If your main income is in Spain, your main home is in Spain or if your spouse and children live in Spain.
● Residency commences from the first day that you declare Spain to be your permanent home.

Tax declarations

When you move to Spain, the Spanish tax authority becomes your controlling tax authority, even if you pay tax elsewhere. The tax year is the calendar year. Worldwide income needs to be declared annually (between April and end of June) and the relevant form is called “La Renta”. (Income taxes and capital gains tax are called IRPF). UK source income from dividends and property rental, whilst taxable in the UK, should also be included in your Spanish tax return. The double tax treaty between Spain and the UK should ensure an accurate tax assessment, but it is important to check that liabilities have been calculated correctly.
Note too that tax-free investments in the UK, such as ISAs and premium bonds, do not hold the same favourable status in Spain. For permanent and long-term Spanish residents, there are tax efficient alternatives available (see Investment section below). Without exception, make full disclosure of income and assets, recognising that there is automatic exchange of tax and financial information between the two countries, under global Common Reporting Standards adopted by the EU in 2017.
The Modelo 720 or M720 is a requirement for all Spanish residents, including foreigners, to complete. It is an informative overseas asset declaration for assets of over 50,000 euros including property, banks accounts, offshore investments, shares and other assets. This declaration needs to be completed by March 31st following the first full fiscal year of residency. As this declaration can only be completed electronically we highly recommend the involvement of a qualified ‘gestor’ or tax accountant, as hefty penalties could be imposed for providing erroneous information.
Wealth tax obligations change on a regular basis and vary between autonomous regions, so obtaining the latest local rates applicable is important.

Beckham Law

For employed individuals earning over 60,000 euros pa and having not been resident in Spain for the past 10 years before becoming tax resident, the possibility exists of being paid as a non-resident for tax purposes and up to five full tax years. The rate of income tax is 24% plus you avoid the need to declare M720. It is available to company owners as long as they (and their immediate family) do not own more than 25% of the shares. The ability to join this scheme needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.

Inheritance tax

This is a subject that causes some confusion on moving to Spain. In Spain, it is the beneficiaries that are assessed for Inheritance tax. In the UK it is the estate of the person who has died that is assessed for Inheritance tax. This means that different planning is required in Spain although it is possible to plan for both the UK and for Spain in some circumstances.
Like wealth tax, inheritance tax varies from autonomous community to autonomous community. Advice in the community where you are living is therefore very important.

Healthcare

Spain’s comprehensive and efficient healthcare system is considered to be at least on a par with the UK and better in many areas. It is generally accessible to expatriates but the extent of cover available to you, and how to secure access to it, depends on individual circumstances. Eligibility for a Tarjeta de Salud or holding suitable private health insurance, or a combination of the two, are essential to avoid unexpected and expensive bills for medical treatment. This especially applies to dental treatment which is typically very costly in Spain.

Currency exchange

Relying on your bank for foreign exchange transfers is generally an expensive option. Numerous currency transfer specialists provide not only competitive terms and secure, swift transactions, but a range of other benefits including on-line facilities for regular payments, forward contracts and rate tracking alerts.

Pensions

Pensions are a technically complex subject where reliable advice is essential. From understanding UK state pension entitlement, to reviewing all existing personal and/or occupational schemes, there is scope to increase the value, flexibility and security of your retirement finances. British expatriates living in Europe currently enjoy pension freedoms and transfer opportunities that are unavailable elsewhere. However, in relation to both Brexit and ongoing UK pension reform, it is unlikely this flexibility will remain beyond the short term.
Even if Brexit transitional arrangements encourage a smoother economic separation, further changes to pension regulations are already on the UK domestic agenda. Consult an authorised, qualified and experienced specialist to arrange a comprehensive review of your existing pension arrangements. Be wary of any recommendation to transfer a UK pension without receiving a detailed report which explains clearly why a transfer is in your best interests.

Wills and estate planning

Spanish forced heir-ship rules restricts the extent to which you can freely transfer wealth during your lifetime. It also, unless you have planned properly, governs how your estate is distributed upon death – most notably, prescribed heir-ship laws override individual choice when it comes to nominating beneficiaries. However, if you are a British expatriate living in Spain, EU legislation allows you to specify that your estate be administered according to the laws of your country of nationality, rather than your country of residence. Doing so provides valuable flexibility and control over the eventual distribution of your estate. Note this relates to probate law and is unconnected to inheritance tax law.
It is important to establish and maintain a valid will or testamento which fully reflects your intentions. A notary will prepare your will in the appropriate format.

Investments and savings

Recognising that UK assets are taxable in Spain, and that tax free in the UK doesn’t translate to the same in Spain, consider switching to Spanish approved tax efficient investments. Care is needed with possible tax consequences on the disposal of UK assets, so always seek professional advice before restructuring. Seguro de vida are widely regarded as the most tax efficient solution available in GBP and EUR (and other currencies), in English language and with investment flexibility to match individual objectives and risk profiles. Technically a life insurance policy, but in practice an investment vehicle and this is the most tax efficient means of investment in Spain –
Low cost, straightforward, beneficiary nomination, IHT exemptions/reliefs, capital access, income option, portability (UK return),

IFA

Even for the financially experienced it is worth seeking professional advice, if only to ensure that all available investment and tax planning opportunities are being fully utilised. Only deal with an independent, appropriately authorised firm and ideally someone living and working locally who has been recommended by other expatriates in the area.
The regulatory status of an independent broker can be checked on-line at; www.dgsfp.mineco.es/regpublicos/pui/pui.aspx, and at any initial discussion with an individual you should be informed about the advisory process, from fact finding and presenting suitable recommendations to responsibility for investment management and ongoing client servicing.