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.
Inheritance Planning & French Residency
Welcome to ‘Spectrum in Occitanie, Finance in Focus’.
The Covid-19 pandemic still dominates the news and will inevitably remain at the forefront of our thoughts for some time. Last month we focused on the financial consequences of this virus and we may well return to this subject in future editions. However, in this issue we are going to focus on the very important, and often neglected, subject of Wills and Inheritance Planning. Succession laws in France differ significantly from those in the UK and careful planning is required to mitigate French inheritance tax.
As touched on in last month’s Newsletter, now is probably a good time to revisit the subject of inheritance planning – an integral part of any financial planning review.
Despite the importance of making sure one’s affairs are in order for the inevitability of our demise, very few people actively seek advice in this area and, as a result, are unaware of the potential difficulties ahead for their families and heirs, not to mention potential tax bills which can be quite substantial for certain classes of beneficiary. With some sensible planning you could save your intended beneficiaries a great deal of stress and dramatically reduce their inheritance tax bill.
The basic rule is, if you are resident in France, you are considered also to be domiciled in France for inheritance purposes and your worldwide estate becomes taxable in France, where the tax rates depend upon the relationship to your beneficiaries.
Fortunately, there is no inheritance tax between spouses and the allowance between a parent and a child is reasonably generous, currently €100,000 per child, per parent. For anything left to other beneficiaries, the allowances are considerably less. In particular, for step-children and other non-related beneficiaries, the allowance is only €1,594 and the tax rate on anything above that is an eye-watering 60%!
There are strict rules on succession and children are considered to be ‘protected heirs’ and so are entitled to inherit a proportion of each of their parent’s estates. For example, if you have one child, the proportion is 50% of the deceased parent’s estate; two children, one-third each; and if you have three or more children, then three-quarters of your estate must be divided equally between them.
You are free to pass on the rest of your estate (the disposable part) to whoever you wish through a French will and, in the absence of making a will, if you have a surviving spouse, he/she would be entitled to 25% of your estate.
You may also be considered domiciled in your ‘home country’ and if so, this could cause some confusion, since your home country may also have the right to charge succession taxes on your death. However, France has a number of Double Taxation Treaties (DTT) with other countries covering inheritance. In such a case, the DTT will set out the rules that apply (basically, ‘which’ country has the right to tax ‘what’ assets).
For example, the 1963 DTT between France and the UK specifies that the deceased’s total estate will be devolved and taxed in accordance with the person’s place of residence at the time of death, with the exception of any property assets that are sited in the other country.
Therefore, for a UK national who is resident in France, who has retained a property in the UK (and does not own any other property outside of France), the situation would be that:
- any French property, plus his/her total financial assets, would be taxed in accordance with French law; and
- the UK property would be taxed in accordance with UK law, although in theory, the French notaire can take this asset into account when considering the fair distribution of all other assets to any ‘protected heirs’ ie. children
If a DTT covering inheritance does not exist between France and the other country, with which the French resident person has an interest, this could result in double taxation, if the ‘home’ country also has the right to tax the person’s estate. Hence, when people become French resident, there are usually two issues:
- how to protect the survivor; and
- how to mitigate the potential French inheritance taxes for other beneficiaries
Protecting the survivor
There are various ways in which you can protect your spouse:
European Succession Regulation No. 650/2012
Many of you will no doubt have heard about the EU Succession Regulations that came into effect in 2015 whereby the default situation is that it is the law of your place of habitual residence that applies to your estate. However, you can elect for the inheritance law of your country of nationality to apply to your estate by specifying this in a French will. This is effectively one way of getting around the issue of ‘protected heirs’ for some expats living in France.
Adopting a ‘community pot’ marriage regime or family pact
There are other tried and tested French structures available to fully protect the rights of a spouse, that don’t rely on the notaire having an understanding of the succession laws of other countries.
You could choose to have the marriage regime of ‘communauté universelle avec une clause d’attribution intégrale au conjoint survivant’. Under this marriage regime, all assets are owned within a ‘community pot’ and on the death of the first person, those community assets are transferred to the survivor without any attribution of half of the assets to the deceased’s estate.
However, adopting a ‘community pot’ marriage regime would not be suitable for families with step-children. This sort of arrangement could be subject to a legal challenge by the survivor’s step-children as they could miss out on their inheritance due to the fact that there is no blood relationship with the step-parent.
In this situation, a family pact (pacte de famille) could be the solution, whereby families agree in advance who will inherit and when. Of course, this would only really work where there is an amicable relationship between parents and children, as the children are effectively waiving all or some of their right to inherit.
There are a number of other ways in which you can arrange your affairs to protect the survivor, depending on your individual circumstances, and we would always recommend that you discuss succession planning in detail with a notaire experienced in these matters.
Mitigation of inheritance tax
On whichever planning you decide, it is important to remember that the French inheritance tax rules will still apply. So, even though you have the freedom to decide who inherits your estate, this will not reduce the potential inheritance tax liability on your beneficiaries, which, as mentioned above, could potentially be very high for a step-child. Hence, there will still be a need to shelter financial assets from French inheritance taxes.
By far and away the most popular vehicle in France for sheltering your hard-earned savings from inheritance tax is the Assurance Vie. The assurance vie is considered to be outside of your estate for tax purposes and comes with its own inheritance allowances, in addition to the standard aIllowance for other assets. If you invest in an assurance vie before the age of 70 you can name as many beneficiaires as you like, regardless of whether they are family or not, and each beneficiary can inherit up to €152,500, tax-free. The rate of tax on the next €700,000 is limited to 20% – potentially making a huge saving for remoter relatives or step-children.
Let’s look at a simple example of the inheritance tax position of a married couple with two children, comparing the IHT position with and without investing in assurance vie:
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD PDF
It is clear to see from this example that by wrapping their medium to long term savings in an assurance vie, this couple have saved each child €30,500 in IHT.
Of course, the more beneficiaries nominated, for example grandchildren, siblings, etc, the greater the IHT saving overall. Beneficiaries can be changed or added to the assurance vie at any time. Remember, also, that beneficiary nominations are not restricted to family members, so, whoever you nominate gets the same allowance.
The inheritance allowance on premiums paid to assurance vie after age 70 are less attractive at €30,500 of the premium (capital investment) plus the growth on the capital shared between all named beneficiaries, and the remaining capital invested is taxed in accordance with the standard IHT bands.
Nevertheless, an assurance vie is still a worthwhile investment after the age of 70 as, in addition to the inheritance tax benefits, assurance vie offers personal tax efficiencies to the investor such as gross roll-up of income and gains whilst funds remain in the policy and an annual income tax allowance of €4,600, or €9,200 for a couple, after 8 years.
So, in order to ensure that your inheritance wishes are carried out, some planning may be required and there are investment opportunities to mitigate the IHT for your chosen beneficiaries.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss your particular circumstances.
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.
Save Thousands in Gift and Inheritance Tax in Spain
In Spain, you can transfer money or other assets to your children or grandchildren during your lifetime, but these transfers can be subject to gift tax. Tax on gifts in Spain is payable at the time they are made.
However, many autonomous regions have special tax allowances or deductions for these gifts. In the Valencian Community, for example, each child or grandchild could be eligible to receive €100,000 without attracting any gift tax, whereas the tax on €100,000, without any allowances, would be at least €12,000. Also, gifting an asset now will mean that any growth on that asset will be free of any future inheritance tax.
The same allowance is available on inheritance, which means each child can receive €200,000 of your wealth, tax free, saving many thousands in inheritance and gift tax.
Gifting your property whilst you still live it in it, with rights to remain, is another option which many people consider. Known as usufructo, children will inherit the bare ownership of the property, possibly paying some gift tax now, but freeing property from the estate when considering inheritance tax.
As with most things relating to Brexit, what will happen next year is not known publicly at the time of writing. Also, it has been suggested that gift and inheritance tax is about to change in Spain. Therefore, if you are thinking of gifting money, or other assets to your children or grandchildren, this might be an opportunity that will not be around for much longer.
Swiss taxes and various deductions
This document is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute tax advice. The intention is to highlight that there are a number of financial planning opportunities available and that professional assistance in completing your tax-return is a very good idea. The Spectrum IFA Group can assist you with Pillar 3a tax-deductable savings, arrange a mortgage that is tax-optimised and help you with other forms of financial planning that are tax-efficient. We have certified accounting partners who speak English and will take care of your full tax return from 500 francs, including questions throughout the year.
The calculation of tax throughout Switzerland is based on the net income of the taxpayer. As in most countries, there are several deductions that can be made on your tax declaration. These will, in turn, reduce your taxable income, and therefore the amount of tax you pay.
Although deductions for the direct federal tax are the same throughout Switzerland, deductions at the cantonal and communal levels are regulated differently. Together with all local tax rates, there are frequently large differences between communes, and this should be borne in mind when deciding on where you wish to live, even in the same canton. Switzerland has been at the forefront of internet-based dissemination of information, and generally the relevant information on deductible amounts for your canton and commune can be found on the individual canton’s website, and frequently in English.
Clearly, to claim any of the available reductions in tax-liability, the necessary and supporting paperwork must be submitted with the tax return.
The following are the most important and frequently used, fully compliant and legal deductions.
Work related expenses: Employed persons can deduct work related expenses such as the cost for commuting to work. As a rule, bus and train passes (up to a certain limit) and a flat amount for bicycles, mopeds and scooters are all included under commuting expenses. Under certain conditions, the kilometres driven to the workplace can be deducted when one is using a private vehicle, but there are usually limits both in minimum and maximum distances.
Other work-related expenses include the cost for meals during the working day. Provided one cannot go home for lunch (i.e. there is a minimum distance from the place of work and the tax-payers domicile) these expenses can be deducted from income up to a certain maximum amount, which in turn varies from canton to canton. Additional deductions are also possible for shift or night work. For further work-related expenses such as the cost for work-specific clothing (such as suits), tools or other professional requirements there is a flat rate deduction. If the actual costs can be proven to be higher than the flat rate deduction (which would therefor require receipts to be attached with the tax declaration as supporting evidence) the tax-payer may often deduct the actual costs.
Payments into a pillar 3a: Payments into pillar 3a accounts are tax deductible up to the maximum allowed amount for those residents in Switzerland who have a taxable income. For employees with an employer-provided pension plan, the maximum allowed amount for 2020/21 is 6,826 francs. Self- employed people, and those without an employer-provided pension plan, are allowed to contribute up to 20% of their net income, up to a maximum of 34,128 francs in 2020/21. These maximum allowable deductions are reviewed every 2 years in line with inflation. The tax savings resulting from paying into a pillar 3a are that the taxpayer’s gross income has been reduced by these amounts and are ergo “tax fee”.
Bank vs. Insurance: It should be noted that there are two principal types of 3a. Those provided by banks, where there is no obligation to make a payment during any tax year, and those offered by insurance companies, where the contractual agreement is for a regular annual premium to be paid (this can be made monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually). The advantage of the bank 3a is that you are free to pay in or not, depending on your financial circumstances. One down-side is that there is no guarantee on the value of your policy at a later date, as it is always subject to the performance of the bank’s 3a funds. One of the great advantages of an insurance-driven product is that it comes with added life insurance, and also a guaranteed minimum performance and future minimum cash-in values. These insurance policies are also accepted for the amortisation of mortgage debt. On the downside, as there are certain charges taken out of the first annual premium at the very beginning, they should not be entered into without discussion with a qualified expert, and never to be taken for an anticipated term shorter than 5-7 years. Both types of product have federally-governed restrictions on accessing these funds before retirement age, although transfers to other retirement pots are permitted.
Interest Payments: Interest – for example for mortgages or on loans – may be deducted from income. This would apply only to interest and not for repayment of principal used to reduce a loan (amortisation of a mortgage for example). Leasing costs on cars may only be deducted when the individual is classified as self-employed.
Expenses due to illness and accidents: Certain expenses for medical services, which were not covered by your health insurance, can be approved as being tax deductible.
Insurance premiums: Premiums for health, accident, life and pension insurance can often be deducted – up to a certain amount.
Reclaiming withholding tax: When bank or savings account interest is credited, under some circumstances only 65% is credited. In this case the bank transfers 35% of the interest to the tax authorities. On providing the account numbers on the tax declaration, the withholding tax is reimbursed. Withholding tax is applied only to accounts for which the amount of interest exceeds 200 francs. In addition to interest from accounts, interest from other sources such as bonds (including medium-term notes), lottery winnings (starting at 50 francs) and dividend payments are subject to withholding tax, but can often be adjusted to the individual’s marginal tax rate.
Contributions to political parties: Members of a political party may deduct contributions, up to a ceiling.
Contributions to non-profit organisations: Donations to non-profit organisations can usually be deducted. Ask in advance.
Disability costs: People with physical or mental disabilities can make certain deductions for additional expenses. Various organisations throughout Switzerland offer free consultation on this matter as to what might be covered, and at local communal level they are also able to give contact details.
Alimony payments: Alimony payments for children and ex-partners can be deducted in full from gross income.
Charitable donations: Provided the charity is Swiss-registered, the minimum donation is 200 francs, but you may make donations up to 20% of your income.
Deduction for children: Generally a deduction can be made for every child who is under the age of 18, or at further education or still in their initial professional training up to age of 25.
Finally, and this is a typically « Swiss » feature
If you pre-pay your taxes you receive some interest: You can benefit from paying your taxes in advance. This is because the tax authorities pay interest on pre-paid tax payments. This interest is generally higher than the current low interest rates of banks. Clearly not everyone has sufficient liquidity to be able to cover a full year, but even agreeing to pay a partial sum in advance is a good way to make a little extra money.
Tax return and other reporting dates for Spain 2020
Whether you have lived in Spain for a while, or are new and trying to understand when you need to submit to the various deadlines, including taxes and overseas assets, I have listed below in an easy to read format what you have to declare and when, to help make your life more simple. These have been the same for the last few years and so should remain moving forward. If you would like help in understanding, declaring and any other questions don’t hesitate to get in touch:
Firstly, an important reminder regarding UK Driving Licences that MUST be exchanged by the 31st January 2020:
In the case of a No Deal Brexit, The Spanish Government has agreed to exchange, renew or replace your driving licence guaranteed by this date. All traffic agreements within the EU will cease to be valid for UK citizens with a No deal Brexit, and therefore UK valid licences will only be legal to use for 9 months after Brexit. Until the 31st January, you can exchange your UK licence for the Spanish equivalent under the same conditions pre-Brexit, without having to wait for the signing of a new agreement between countries, or obtain a new Spanish driving licence.
Otherwise, after these 9 months, you will have to go through the process of passing a Spanish driving test (please, no)! To do this, you must visit the DGT website www.dgt.es and arrange an appointment. Alternatively, your gestor may do this for a fee for you.
End of January 2020
Stocks, bonds and investment funds that are outside of Spain and are not Spanish compliant. (this is to compliment and not replace Modelo 720). Failure to comply with the obligation to submit this Form D6, can lead to a fine of up to 25% of the undeclared amount, with a minimum of €3000. Late declaration entails penalties ranging from €300 in the first 6 months to €600 after that deadline.
End of March 2020
This is a declaration of assets outside of Spain value of €50,000 or more. Once declared you only need to do this again if the value of any asset (e.g. a bank account) has risen by more than €20,000). The authorities can fine you anywhere between 100 and 10,000 euro for failure to meet the requirements (as of 2019, the European Union considers Spain to be breaking EU law with these sanctions for people who file the Modelo 720 late).
End of June 2020
Declaración De La Renta
Your annual tax return, showing all assets and worldwide incomes, must be declared for assessment by this date. Not all assets will be taxable, depending on how they are structured. In Spain the financial year runs from January through to December, and in June you are declaring for the previous calendar year’s finances.
Wealth Tax declaration – Catalonia
Wealth tax is applied if your worldwide assets are more than 500,000€ with an additional allowance of up to 300,000€ for your main residence. The tax is based upon your net wealth: assets minus liabilities. In Catalonia the rates of tax start at 0.21% and rises to 2.75% depending on your wealth each year and is taken from the 31st December the previous year. There are ways of mitigating this tax by having your assets structured correctly.
What role do Chris and The Spectrum IFA Group perform?
I am a financial planner/Wealth Manager and we specialise in optimising clients’ assets, including strategies to minimise taxes both now and in the future. We manage clients’ savings, investments and pensions whilst understanding what these are and the role they will play in their lives. I do my best to continually keep clients informed of anything they need to know in respect of these topics.
DETRACTIONS FOR INCOME TAX PURPOSES IN ITALY
I am often asked which expenses can be detracted from income in Italy. These serve to reduce your potential tax liabilities.
Unlike a lot of countries where allowances are offered on a certain amount of income each year (e.g. the UK and the first £12500), Italy does not offer any such allowance, but instead uses a complicated system of detractions and deductions of certain living expenses. That list covers a multitude of items, such as eco bonus for re-construction work to your home, funeral expenses and medical expenses.
A new criteria that has been imposed as of 2020 is that a number of these must now be paid only by traceable means of payment (bonifico, bancomat or credit card). If they are not paid with one of these methods then they are not deductible.
The following table, taken from an article in Sole24Ore is a good reference tool to see which expenses can be deducted, at what % of the total cost and whether they can be paid in cash or not.
I hope you find it useful. If you are not claiming for any that you might be eligible for then I would advise you have a conversation with your commercialista about them.
Tax breaks in Italy
I have been writing these articles for 10 years this year, after sending out my first one in 2009. Looking back at the very first one just the other day, I saw how it had developed and how the concepts I discuss have changed dramatically. This got me thinking about the way that the world has changed as well during this time. Last Friday I joined the Global Climate Strike in Rome. There were about 250,000 students, protesters and concerned people; marching to spread our concern for how we treat the world we live in. It certainly got me thinking about how politics is going to have to change significantly in the coming years to meet the needs and desires of these disgruntled voters.
Which leads us nicely to the new coalition government in Italy and their changes in the Legge di Bilancio which were approved on the 30th September. In the Legge there are many new rules that will come into force from 2020, some eco based (but not enough) and a number which may affect you. Below I have selected a few of the changes in the tax law which might interest you.
1. If you are in the market for a new car, then incentives will be given, up to €6000 for purchasing a new electric, hybrid, small gas or small diesel car.
2. BUT, if you buy an SUV or an ‘auto lusso’, then you will taxed up to €3000.
3. Anyone who is working online might be caught in the trap set to try to tackle evasive tax practices by the big tech companies. Italy is following the French lead and introducing a tax of 3% on web based business revenues generated in Italy.
4. The flat tax of 7% for retirees moving to, and getting residency in Italy is fully approved from January 2019. The main caveat is that you must move to a village of no more than 20,000 inhabitants in any of the following regions:
Sardinia, Molise, Abruzzo, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia
Other terms and conditions apply, so check carefully before assuming you automatically qualify.
5. Income tax deductions will be available for anyone who carries out invoiced home renovation, purchases eco domestic appliances, completes seismic work on their house, purchases sun curtains for balconies or buys mosquito blocks for doors, amongst other property related deductions. The following article (in Italian) provides a nice summary (once again conditions apply, so make sure you check the small print or speak with a commercialista before going ahead).
However, please remember that this work must be ‘invoiced’ work and paid for by electronic means. If you pay for it in the black or in cash (even if invoiced), then it is not deductable. Although paying in the black is illegal, it will often mean you can negotiate a discount on the full price. Whilst this might make paying in cash may seem attractive, it won’t afford you any income tax deduction so may turn out to be more disadvantageous.
6. The canone RAI (TV licence fee) has been reconfirmed as €90 per annum. No price increase will be applied, at least for this year.
7. And the pièce de résistance … if you thought that IMU and TASI were hard enough to get your head around, the latest news is that they are going to be unified. No prizes for anyone who can come up with the new acronym. TASIMU???
Tax Advice in Spain for Expats
Whenever someone gets in touch with me, the first, most important thing I suggest they do is to make themselves and their family as tax efficient as possible, i.e. tax planning. There is no point having a ‘leaky bucket’: their money earning interest but more than needs to is pouring through the ‘tax holes’ they haven’t plugged or planned for.
So, apart from the obvious reason of minimising the current tax you pay, why is it important to review your tax situation? It is to make sure you are aware of ‘stealth taxes’. Stealth taxes are those which are not easy to detect and that many people are not aware of.
If you are a government, you want to win as many votes as possible to be elected (or re-elected). You need money to spend, but raising taxes on the upper echelons will damage your votes, raising taxes on the working classes will also damage you votes, and both will be very vocal. Therefore, what has become increasingly popular with governments is to increase taxes that won’t necessarily hurt voters’ pockets on a day to day basis, but which could do in the future.
A good example of this is something called the lifetime allowance. This is the ‘ceiling’ under which the value of your UK private pension will be in the regular tax bands. However, if your pension pot overshoots this limit, you will pay increased tax of up to 55% on anything over that ceiling. Never heard of this tax? Well, I can assure you there are some very normal, everyday, hard-working people who are not in the upper echelons of society and who, due to long pension contributions and having good investment advice, will reach this limit in their lifetime.
To explain this a little more, the lifetime allowance ceiling was introduced in 2006 and was £1,800,000 at its maximum. Over time, it has been reduced and reduced to its present rate of £1,055,000. During that same time inflation has increased, people’s earnings have increased, contributions to pensions have increased; so why should the ceiling go down? Stealth tax.
Moving forward, stealth taxes are likely to be the most popular way for governments to increase their income without the majority of people noticing.
Let’s think about this. What else could the government do along these lines to increase revenue? How about tax those British people living outside of the UK more? They don’t live there, they don’t have the same rights as everyone that does, so are they not an easier target? So, what could they do? Tax UK state pensions (currently they do not tax non-UK residents, although they are taxable in Spain)? Or how about tax those with UK private pensions a ‘non-resident tax’? Or tax those who move their UK pensions outside of the UK and not into a place where the UK government has an agreement with? In fact, the last one they do already!
What can you do? Well its quite simple really; plan now so that should any of the above or anything like this happen, your assets or monies are arranged to be as tax efficient as possible to mitigate these circumstances. If your assets are working just as effectively as they are now, but are much more tax efficient, it could save you and your family a lot of money in taxes in the future.
Perfect preparation prevents P*** P*** performance I believe is the phrase!