I trust you are all safe and well and enjoying the additional bit of freedom that moving into Phase 1 has afforded us herein Spain. By the time you read this there is every chance we are into Phase 2 allowing even more freedom. It’s been a long haul for Madrid to get there and there are mixed feelings about how long it has taken…
The results are in…
Personally, I´d rather be safe than sorry, so whilst there have been frustrating times over the last few months, it is probably for the best. Recently I sent a survey out to my clients, who are based all over the community of Madrid. The survey was twofold:
Secondly, being in lockdown has given us all the time and opportunity to evaluate our personal situations. To address administrative tasks we had put on the back burner and to look at all aspects of our financial wellbeing, whether that be assessing emergency cash reserves, job security or even making sure an up to date will was in place.
The response to my survey was fantastic with many responses. Some just answered the questions but the majority also wrote additional comments, which gave a greater insight into their situation. It was interesting for me to read the results and compare the answers to how my family have felt and what we had looked at changing or updating.
I´d like to share some of the results from the survey, but I won’t detail all the questions as this Ezine would be never ending.
It might be beneficial for you to compare the data with your own situation or feelings.
1. Only 30% felt that lockdown was a struggle; the vast majority were not concerned by the restrictions.
2. 80% were comfortable with the transition to online communication, whether that be email or video calling.
3. 100% were concerned about their investments – completely natural when you were watching the fall out on the news.
4. 42% were concerned for their jobs.
5. 95% had sufficient emergency cash reserves to see them through – something we always encourage when dealing with our clients.
6. 50% had excess cash reserves sitting idle in the bank.
7. 62% believed that NOW was a great time to get invested and put more money into the markets. Of that number 55% proceeded and bought in at the discounted prices available.
8. 57% had an up to date will in place. Some admitting to doing it recently after my article titled “The Folder”.
9. 80% felt that their insurance policies were sufficient for their situation; however 40% of these people have requested further information and alternative quotes.
The results made for interesting reading and it was great to see that a lot of people had reviewed things and were keen to look at alternative options.
As a company we have a huge network of 3rd party companies that can assist our clients with all the points raised in the survey.
In Madrid I can recommend teams of lawyers who will offer a free initial
consultation and discounted rates, providing they come from me as a direct referral. This is great for anybody that needs to review their will – you can have the initial conversation at no cost and then pay for the will upon completion.I can recommend teams of accountants or gestors to assist with tax returns, inheritance, and other administrative issues.
During lockdown I also set up a collaboration with an expat insurance broker, which allows us to assist with health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, house insurance and more. The great thing about this relationship is that ALL quotations and policy documentation are in English. Whilst most of you will speak and understand Spanish perfectly well, there are times when something is easier “to get” when it’s in English.
If you want to review your insurances, or just obtain alternative quotes to compare with what you already have, get in touch – there is no charge for a quotation.
Do not delay reviewing your will, insurances, or investments.
PS. If you did not receive the survey and want to complete it, send me an email and I´d be happy to share it with you.
There’s only two things you can be certain of in life…
In France they have an expression “En mai fait ce qui te plait” which translated means that in May you do as you please. Well clearly this year we haven’t been able to do exactly as we please but we have been allowed a bit more freedom since the end of lockdown on 11th May. I haven’t yet felt the need to take advantage of this new found liberty, but as the children returned to school under acceptable conditions at the end of last week our work/home/school routine is set to change.
May is also tax season. Whilst you can get online to do your tax return in April, I personally have always preferred to do it on 1st May and during the month of May I notice an increase in client enquiries. Even though, in my previous role as a tax adviser, I used to do several hundred tax returns for our English speaking clients, I still find myself getting nervous when I do our annual tax return. There are so many bits of information that need to be assembled and I want to make sure that I have all the income, expenses and tax reductions properly entered before I finally press send.
May is a good time to think about not only your tax but also your taxable income. When I worked in the accountancy firm, my colleagues and I didn’t have time to think about whether a client was paying TOO much tax or not. We just took the information provided and entered the figures in the boxes. When I joined Spectrum I realised that, as a financial adviser, I could take the time to sit down and do a full financial review with my clients to look into whether it made sense for them to be paying so much tax. One thing that comes to mind is UK ISAs and investment portfolios.
They are not tax efficient in France and a real headache for anyone or their tax adviser to have to work out. It took hours of entering in each dividend, interest and capital gain. You can still own a well diversified, multi asset portfolio within an assurance vie wrapper and save time and money when it comes to completing your tax return.
If you haven’t done your tax return then there is still time to do so. You can get our free tax guide HERE. In 2020, all households must do their tax returns online if they have internet access at home. If not they can submit a paper return. You have until 4th June if your live in Departments 1-19 or if you are non-resident, 8th June for Departments 20-54 and 11th June for Departments 55 to 974/976.
As regards the markets, global share prices have recovered strongly over recent weeks, with many investors encouraged by central bank interventions, including ongoing financial support and stimulus for individuals and companies. The prospect of successful vaccine development and the easing of lockdown restrictions have also fuelled optimism. Some of this investor enthusiasm, and expectations of a rapid economic recovery, may well be misplaced, but short term stock market direction is of course impossible to forecast.
There is almost certainly more economic difficulty ahead, but there will in time be a recovery (the only question is timing) and, as always, it is important to take the long term view. For now, our priority should be to ensure that our investments and pensions continue to be well managed regardless of the difficult economic circumstances.
In the words of Julian Chillingworth, Chief Investment Officer of Rathbones, one of Spectrum’s approved multi-asset fund managers,
“We think it’s important that investors concentrate on understanding which businesses can survive this current crisis and quickly return to generating meaningful profits and paying dividends. This is where we are concentrating our research efforts, generating ideas for our investment managers to use in portfolios as we work our way through this crisis.”
May has been a busy month with Zoom meetings with colleagues, friends and family and telephone meetings with clients and prospects. However as lockdown has now ended and my children are back at school (for at least two days a week), I will be tentatively making a few face to face meetings in June if my clients so wish whilst taking all the necessary protection measures.
If you want to speak to me about any financial matters or you know of anyone who, having moved to France, would benefit from learning more about managing finances in France, please do get in touch.
Tax increases in Spain
This is an article for those of us who live in Spain but will apply in every developed country around the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a worldwide lockdown, including here in Spain. The economy has been shut down with the likes of Seat in Barcelona stopping production and Barcelona tourist numbers collapsing. We all know this because we are all a living part of the lockdown.
In response to what looks like the worst economic crisis in the 300 years of modern data collection, governments and central banks around the world have provided some $7 trillion dollars of stimulus packages to economies and workers. It is the fastest and biggest reaction EVER to an economic crisis. Well done, the central banks! It genuinely is helping to make sure that as we slowly exit lockdown, individuals and companies will be in a little better condition to start up again.
Would I have it any other way? No! However, the question we now need to answer comes from Angela Merkel when asked to provide a European bailout in the 2009 crisis; “But where will the money come from?” A valid question. And even more so for the crisis that has come from the coronavirus pandemic.
The money will come, in part, from higher taxation. In the UK today, a menu of proposed increases in taxation has been leaked. In Spain, a loophole in wealth tax legislation that allowed some unit linked insurance savings plans to be exempt from
wealth tax has been closed. What is significant is that these changes are coming now, before we are even clear of the lockdown and virus.
The changes to taxation in Spain are likely to include savings tax, inheritance tax and wealth tax in particular. Changes were already being discussed and the economic fallout from the pandemic provides the reason to bring forward these changes. Specifically, the EU has told us to harmonise inheritance tax across Autonomous Communities as there are big differences in the amount of tax to be paid.
In the draft budget for 2020, there is a proposal to change savings tax. At present, we have three bands of tax. The top rate for gains and investment income over €50,000 is 23%. A new band will be introduced for gains and investment income over €160,000 of 27%. We should expect this change to happen soon as it is already in the budget which is going before Parliament for approval. The first case I have seen where this will apply would lead to an additional €48,000 in tax. It is pertinent to bear in mind that these tax rates can apply to the gain on some property sales.
In addition to the wealth tax change described above, we understand that others may now be considered.
Help is at hand. There are planning actions that can be taken to minimise the tax issues. Here is a three point plan to minimise the effect of these changes:
1. Savings Tax. Move investments into Spanish tax efficient investments. These are available and you do not have to move your investment to Spain to qualify. They are available in Sterling as well as Euros and USD. If you would like confirmation on which of your current investments are tax efficient in Spain, I am happy to review them with you.
2. Inheritance Tax. This requires very careful consideration before making decisions to manage inheritance tax. Making sure you can maintain your lifestyle is an important part of this planning, especially for the survivor in the event of one half of a couple passing away. Once these criteria have been met, planning is feasible. A recent case of planning has saved £87,719 in UK inheritance tax for a couple living here in Spain. For nearly all of us from the UK, our estate at death will be assessed for UK inheritance tax.
3. Wealth Tax. Sometimes, the planning for wealth tax is simple. In other cases, not so simple. Care is needed and it is worthwhile asking for a review.
We have had our cake in the form of stimulus to protect the economy. We will shortly find we will have indigestion from eating the cake in the form of higher taxes. Fortunately, we still have a few indigestion tablets available to relieve our pain.
If you wish to discuss tax on your savings, inheritance tax or wealth tax please feel welcome to call. If this helps, you can match your availability for a call with mine online here.
Tax Efficient Savings
You have moved to Spain … and you are now tax resident here.
You do not want the volatility or risk of investments, but want more earnings than you get out of a savings account.
Is there a middle ground solution?
The majority of expats in Spain move over here for the weather, the more relaxed way of life and let’s face it, because they can afford to do it!
The savings, investments and pensions they built up are used to fund their lifestyle in Spain. The problem many are facing now is the changing financial environment; we have seen the pound devalue against the Euro and interest rates drop due to quantative easing, amongst other factors. This is great if you are looking at taking out a loan to start a business or to buy a house, but most expats are past this stage, so not good news.
That sum of money held in savings is absolutely vital, as it is readily accessible and, in the majority of cases, protected from what the markets are doing, i.e. when the markets go down, it doesn’t affect the cash held on deposit! However, the low interest rates mean that, due to inflation (which affects retirees the most), the purchasing power of that cash is going down.
The investment route does give you the possibility of earning more from your cash, but it also takes away all that protection. The markets have been pretty steady for the last few years, however, with quantative easing at the time of writing looking at coming to an end, so will the volatility of investments increase. The problem most expats face is that they do not have the luxury of time on their side to ride out the dips in the markets. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is what it is. When the markets climb it is all good, however, two weeks later when they are down then it can be very stressful, especially if this is when you need to access some of the money held in the investment!
So what do we do? Is there any middle ground?
Yes, there is, but it is not very sexy! It is for people who are willing to sacrifice the spikes in market prices (this is the unsexy part) while limiting exposure to drops in market prices. It is a very prudent scheme that works like this: The investment you make is combined with a pot of around
£500 billion and when this investment makes money they hold some of the gain back, so you do not get it. The flip side is that when there is a dip in the performance, they put the profit back in so you are not overly affected. This is called smoothing and this chart reflects how it works. The expected return is published every three months and is currently running at around 5% (August 2019).
This is a popular product in the UK for those who are either looking at putting a portion of their savings somewhere to earn more than just interest, or for those who are looking at a stable investment fund for their pensions. It can also be set up as last life policy, so can be used to limit IHT. Many expats also use this type of policy, which is now available Spanish tax compliant (your English policy is not, so speak to me about making it Spanish compliant). This is a low risk option for those preparing for market volatility and who want a stress free life!
Tax and Savings in Spain
This is an introduction to the differences between the UK and Spanish tax systems and an introduction to a European ISA equivalent. It has been produced to help answer two regularly asked questions. : “What is the difference in taxation between Spain and in the UK?” – followed by “Is there a tax free savings account in Spain similar to an ISA?”.
For those of you not from the UK, I hope that the Spanish part of the table below will still be useful in allowing you to compare it with your home country tax situation.
|Tax Year Dates||6th April – 5th April||1st January – 31st December|
|Income Tax Allowance||£11,500||€9250 up to age 64
€10,400 age 65+
€11,800 age 75+
|Capital Gains Tax Allowance||£11,300||N/A but some gains can be offset against some losses|
|Savings Tax Rates (interest and capital gains)|| N/A
Income Tax and CGT calculated separately
|19% to €6,000, then 21% for the next €44,000 and 23% above €50,000|
|Tax Free Interest||£1,000||Nil|
|Tax Free Dividends|| £5,000
Falling to £2,000 in 2018/19
|Annual ISA Allowance||£20,000|| Unlimited
(see Euro ISA below)
|Pension Contributions Limits|| 100% of your earnings
up to £40,000 pa
|Inheritance Tax||Above £325,000 at 40% plus possible allowance against main residence of £125,000 in 2018/19||Autonomous community rules.
Catalonia and Madrid have large discounts for immediate family
|Wealth Tax Limit||N/A at present||Autonomous community rules. Catalonia: over €500,000 with a €300,000 allowance for main residence, rates from 0.21% to 2.75%|
The main differences are in Wealth Tax, Inheritance Tax and the way savings are taxed.
Wealth Tax in Spain
In the UK there is not currently any Wealth Tax. There is in Spain and the rates and method of calculation are set by the autonomous communities. In Catalunya the rate is banded, starting at 0.21% and rising to 2.75%.
Inheritance Tax in Spain
In the UK, the estate of the deceased person is taxed as a whole, whilst in Spain, the person receiving the bequest is taxed based just on the amount they personally receive from the estate. The allowances and method of taxation also differ. The rates of inheritance tax in Barcelona and the Costa Brava are the same but will be very different if you live in Andalucia. For more information, please see Inheritance Tax in Catalunya as an example.
Tax Free Savings in Spain
In the UK, since January 1987 with the introduction of Personal Equity Plans (PEPS), we have been used to having tax free savings. Peps are now called ISAs and the allowance is now £20,000 per annum. If you live in Spain and have an ISA please note it is taxable in Spain. The fact that it is tax free in the UK does not transfer to Spain and you should look at the alternative below.
Spain does not have an ISA system as such but there is a similar investment, sometimes known as the “European ISA”. It is tax free whilst invested and has a very beneficial low taxation basis, especially if you require income from your investment. It is a little more restrictive than the UK ISA but is still worthwhile.
The two big advantages are that there is no limit and it is portable to other countries. If you would like to invest 10,000,000 euros in one year in the “European ISA” you can do! Unlike a UK ISA, the European ISA can go with you if you move country (not to all countries). If you return to the UK, the tax will be proportional to the amount of time you have been in the UK against the time you have had the European ISA. So if you have a Euro ISA for 10 years in total and have moved back to the UK for the last two years of the 10 years, the tax will be reduced. Specifically, the tax will be calculated and multiplied by 2/10ths. An 80% tax saving!
If you would like more information on Inheritance Tax, Wealth Tax or the European ISA, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on +34 645 257 525. If you have UK ISAs, I will also be happy to advise you on how to make these tax efficient in Spain.