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Inflation is the killer

By Chris Burke - Topics: Barcelona, Inflation, Spain
This article is published on: 12th February 2020

Tip 1 – Maximising your savings – inflation is the killer
In the UK, ‘Stealth Taxes’ are the normal weapon governments use to raise taxes now. These are taxes that don’t affect everyone on a daily basis, or maybe not today, but could do significantly at some point. For this and other reasons, these taxes don’t usually cost them votes and raise a good level of tax money.

I argue one of the biggest Stealth Taxes is inflation, and the two reasons I believe this are: because of my 90-year-old father, and also because I need proof, to be shown something before I believe it.

inflation

As you can see from the above graph which dates back to the beginning of the eurozone, inflation has generally fallen. Up until 2008 it was perhaps on average 3%; from the crisis at the end of 2008 more likely 2%. So, what if a glass of wine goes up by 2% a year, I hear you say, or the menu of the day as well, that’s nothing. Well, yes it is. When you compound that over a period of years it makes a big difference. For example, people have come to see me with some money sitting in a bank account earning nothing. They know this, but they don’t know what else to do with it. They like the security of a bank account for the value of the money, and the security of having access to it if they want it. So 6 years later, they come back to see me again and say ‘Yes, we have definitely decided we want this money to do something for us (let’s says its 100,000). Can you help us, please?’ There are two things that immediately come to my mind here, firstly, not everyone is disciplined and hasn’t spent some of that money by then. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they don’t actually have 100,000 anymore, they have 88,000 in real terms. So, each year they have lost 2,000: imagine every year you draw 2,000 out from your bank account and flushed it down the drain; how painful would that be? That’s exactly what you are doing by not managing your money effectively. We are also in an incredibly low inflation environment at the moment. Imagine if it went up to 3 or 4%?

My father, in his latter years of retirement, does not stop commenting on how prices have increased, what they used to be and how expensive things are (don’t worry; he is not destitute, just astute). We don’t really notice this on a daily basis, the main reason being we are still working and earning an income. We can always replace what we spend within reason. However, when you finally have no more income and only savings and investments, it really hits you.

Action Point 1 – make sure your assets, no matter what they are, are being managed effectively for you, bearing in mind that one day your income will stop, alongside giving you access to emergency funds should you need it.

Tip 2 – Brexit – last chance saloon for moving UK pensions
Last month I attended seminars bringing us financial types up to date with everything going on in 2020, including Brexit/UK pensions and one of my worst fears was confirmed. When Brexit is officially rubber stamped, you will be charged 25% if you want to transfer your UK private or company pension outside of the UK. This means your pensions freedom of choice will have effectively ended, as who would want to pay that tax to move it? So moving forward, your pension would remain in the UK. What would that actually mean? Well, it would have to adhere to UK rules moving forward, which in essence are starting in real terms to reduce the benefits you could receive (another stealth tax). It could be the best place to leave your pension anyway, but what we suggest is detailed analysis of what you have and what your options are, before you don’t have a choice. We conduct this on a complimentary basis for you, giving you the knowledge to make a decision. For many people the right advice is to leave their pension where it is, but for some moving it is by far the best thing to do.

Action Point 2 – Check whether your UK pension should take advantage of the last potential chance to the European freedom of pensions movement.

Tip 3 – Investments outside Spain tax
Not many people are aware that assets they have outside of Spain are/can be taxed differently to those inside it. In essence, most assets outside Spain held by a Spanish resident need to have tax paid each year on any gain made, regardless of whether you access them or not. The reason why this is important, is that deferring tax until a time when you can reduce/mitigate it is one of the biggest ways to increase your wealth.

There are options similar to UK ISAs and other asset planning available that can help you be Spanish compliant and potentially save you taxes.

Action Point 3 – Try to have your assets Spanish compliant. Evaluate what assets you have, how they are taxed and make sure they are tax efficient moving forward.

Article by Chris Burke

Chris BurkeIf you are based in the Barcelona/Costa Brava area and would like to have an initial, complimentary face to face video call or arrange a time to visit Chris in his office in central Barcelona, contact Chris on chris.burke@spectrum-ifa.com or whatsapp +34 689915730. If you are based in another area within Europe, please complete the form below and we will put a local adviser in touch with you.

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