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Australian Tax Amnesty Announced - Just a few hours ago Australian announced a tax amnesty. The tax amnesty applies to any tax resident with offshore assets not declared to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Applicable offshore assets could include, pensions, ISAs, Premium Bonds, cash savings, shares and property, among others. Geraint Davies, Montfort International’s Managing Director, sees this move as, ‘’significant from many perspectives. We have seen the breaking news of a complete re-vamp of pensions in the UK. We see taxation rules getting more and more complicated, with the man in the street often oblivious of what might be taxed and what might not be. A classic case of not knowing what you don’t know and if you don’t know what you don’t know – what do you do? There is no line of separation between the tax cheat and the seemingly innocent. Anybody, big or small, who has a financial connection with Australia has a tax connection.“We have the traditional bank accounts held in offshore tax havens. But we also have undeclared UK pensions, Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes and Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes, both in the accumulation and decumulation phase as well as ISAs and Premium Bond wins. Then there are, of course, rented out properties, share portfolios, endowments, inheritances kept ex-Australia that need to be considered.” A senior Australian tax officer stated, ‘’People disclosing their offshore assets would be assessed for the last four years only and be liable for a maximum shortfall penalty of 10% of their debt instead of 90%. They will have to pay the tax due plus interest for late payment.” Although this may sound like a problem for recent migrants, the tax amnesty is an opportunity for those who have not declared their offshore assets to put their tax position right. We at Offshore QROPS believe that many will come forward for fear of what the ATO have in mind, the penalties of having to pay now being extremely light. However, those not facing up to their obligations now face serious problems, as those that come forward will give clues as to where undeclared assets and income are being held. Pensions undeclared might pose an interesting set of questions now that full access to pensions is proposed UK legislation. Could a migrant see Australia raising tax due under the now withdrawn Foreign Investment Fund (FIF) tax legislation where offshore holdings such as UK pensions are discovered? This FIF legislation caught private pensions. Interesting times! It is not just the UK and Australian Governments announcing such measures either, “I think Governments around the world will unite, the data sharing and powerful technical advances in data capture and analysis are on the side of tax offices around the world and, whether or big or small, any excuse of not knowing about a tax rule will not wash. I think that UK advisers tend to forget that UK is offshore to Australia. Advisers who have purely focused on selling QROPS and QNUPS might well find themselves having to answer questions as to why they didn’t recommend advice on non-commission earning advice areas.” Geraint also stated that, “Any migrant or returning national past or present really needs to have a financial health check at the earliest opportunity to check if they have an exposure. It’s clear that Australia will now be not just looking back in time but will not want to lose tax revenue going forward. Nobody will want a penalty that could be greater in value than the asset being hidden” If you would like a financial health check or to ensure that your migration finances, pensions and investments are in order, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Offshore QROPS on +44 (0)1483 202072, who will be happy to help. Thursday, 27 March 2014 11:26
Transferring Pensions to Australia and the Australian Superannuation QROPS Contribution Cap - Both in the press and on websites, including www.miplc.co.uk and www.qrops.co.uk you will see ample comment regarding the contribution cap when transferring pensions into an Australian Superannuation so we will not go over this well trodden subject. Instead we want to consider a far more important subject, i.e. whether a transfer across to a QROPS in Australia may be in your interest in the first place? There is certainly good news for those who hold UK pension arrangements in excess of the cap as from the start of the new Australian tax year, the non-consessional contribution cap is increasing to AU$180,000 instead of the current AU$150,000. For some, this makes things much easier to make an overseas pension transfer from a UK pension to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) happen. For others, the cap may still not be high enough to transfer a pension into Australian QROPS. Where this is the case, it can still be possible to roll 3 years together. For those with larger pension values in the UK, even rolling 3 years together still does not allow them to transfer their funds into an Australian QROPS. In these instances, there may be solutions available to you utilising a sequence strategy over time. However careful management to ensure you meet the requirements in the most tax efficient manner is all important. One wrong move can expose you to unwanted Australian and or UK tax liabilities and or missed opportunity. Montfort International have since before QROPS were even on the drawing board been delivering bespoke financial and pension planning advice and strategies for any set of circumstance since the overseas pension transfer concept took off, however each and every potential global QROPS victim \ candidate needs to pay heed to the detail. Always exercise caution when dealing around matters concerning the contributions cap. Within this strategy we can advice suitable investment advice to ensure that your funds are working hard for you whilst the process is happening. An investment strategy within your overall pension planning is essential to ensure that your funds at least keep up with inflation. However, careful analysis of your risk tolerance level is needed as if your risk tolerance level is less than the level needed to make a transfer analytically suitable, is a pension transfer to Australia advisable in the first place? Should you wish to speak to Montfort International regarding how Australian superannuation contributions caps and pension transfers to Australia may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact our Financial Advisor, Andrew Hains who will be happy to discuss this with you. Thursday, 27 March 2014 09:29
New Zealand Tax on Foreign Pensions - Over recent months there has been a lot in the New Zealand financial press and International pensions press about how the New Zealand Inland Revenue will treat foreign pensions, including any UK pension arrangements that you may hold. There is potential that the New Zealand Inland Revenue will tax the growth of any UK pension or other pension offshore from New Zealand. However, there are certain exceptions that you may be able to apply, depending upon your circumstances. These exceptions may help to keep your options open when migrating and significantly benefit you financially. Do you need to transfer your UK pension to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension (QROPS) in New Zealand? Well, the answer is not quite as straightforward as a yes or no answer. The actual answer is that it depends upon a number of factors, such as your future plans and objectives, the benefits your UK pensions will provide, any guarantees or exit penalties that your existing arrangements may have, currency markets, whether you qualify for exceptions to tax, the charges involved in a overseas pension transfer etc. However, it is made more complicated because you must also get the timing of any transfer right, if a transfer to a New Zealand QROPS is right in the first place. The amendments to the New Zealand tax on pensions may have an affect on anyone who is already resident in New Zealand and has transferred pensions from the UK to NZ Superannuation schemes and QROPS in the past, those who are New Zealand residents who still maintain UK or other pension arrangements outside of New Zealand and those who are intending on migrating to New Zealand. If you fit into any of the categories above, it is recommended that you review your pension and retirement planning position. For further information on whether this may affect you and whether or not a financial, pension and retirement planning review would benefit you, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Hains or Tom Reed at our office on +44 (0)1483 202072. Based upon asking you a few key questions, they will be happy to make an initial assessment. Friday, 21 March 2014 09:16
Fixed and Individual Protection 2014 - By now, those of you to whom Fixed and Individual Protection 2014 may apply for your pensions should be aware of it. With the end of the current UK tax year fast approaching, time is running out if you need to apply for these as the deadline is 5th April 2014. On 6th April 2014, the lifetime allowance is reducing from £1.5m to £1.25m. There are, therefore, issues to consider for anyone whether remaining in the UK or moving / retiring overseas around the lifetime allowance for pensions for anyone who has upwards of around £600,000 in their pension pots. For some, applying for either of the protections may be the most appropriate solution but for those migrating overseas, a combination of protection and transfer to QROPS may be a suitable strategy. Either way, time is running out and if you have not yet looked at this, you need to consider your options quickly. In certain situations modelling various scenarios may well be our recommendation. If you feel this may be appropriate for you please feel free to speak with our advisor, Andrew Hains who will be able to discuss the options with you and advise accordingly. It is important that the right solution for you is implemented as this will ultimately affect your future and the future of your family. Once a strategy is advised and implemented, Montfort International also stress the importance of reviewing and maintaining that strategy on a regular basis. All too often a pension and investment solution is set up and then just left. By regularly maintaining and reviewing your pension and investment strategy you can ensure that your plans and investments are on track to meet your retirement goals and that your investments are in line with your risk profile and tolerance to loss. If you have any queries or would like Montfort International to review your pension, QROPS, retirement or investment strategy, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Hains on 01483 202072. Wednesday, 19 March 2014 14:06
Tax Efficient Savings 2014 - 5 March 2014 Currently we are coming up to the end of the 2013/2014 UK tax year. That means there are just a few days left for you to ensure you have maximised your Individual Savings Account (ISA) and pension contributions for this UK tax year. Saving into vehicles that are tax effective, such as ISAs (UK tax residents only) and pensions (UK and non-UK tax residents), rather than other savings vehicles, can provide a boost to your savings. For example, saving into a cash ISA rather than a regular savings account means that there is no tax deducted from any interest that you earn. In a stocks and shares ISA, there are tax benefits to any dividends earned and no capital gains tax on any capital gain of your investments. The roll up effect over time of this tax efficiency can have a dramatic effect on your savings and investments. In regard to pensions, for contributions paid in, there can be tax relief at your highest rate of income tax. This is a very valuable enhancement and can significantly deliver financial planning benefits with regards to your retirement aims and objectives; and sometimes even more so when moving between countries. Other issues come into play with pension such as, the lifetime allowance. At the start of the new tax year, this is being reduced considerably prompting a number of clients to consider a transfer out of the UK pension system and into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) prior to 5th April 2014. Please note that dependent upon your residency / future residency, additional ISA or pension contributions can have complications. There are also limitations at the UK end. It is important to look at a long term saving and investment time horizon as investments can go down as well as up. We recommend that you contact one of our financial advisory team if you are interested in maximising the tax efficiency from your pension arrangements as well as your savings and investments or if you have concerns regarding the reduction in the lifetime allowance. Our team are here to help. Wednesday, 05 March 2014 17:27

Offshore QROPS

Offshore QROPS provides specialist Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes advice to anyone who has accrued UK pension benefits and is interested in transferring their fund to an overseas pension when retiring abroad. Discover why so many people rely on us to provide up to date independent QROPS/QNUPS advice on overseas pension schemes.

“Your advice on pensions (we were astonished as to the value of Phyl's pension) transfer of money etc has been invaluable. The way you explained both verbally and in your written reports made life so much easier."

Alan & Phyl Robinson

       

Public Sector Final Salary Pension Transfers to QROPS to End!

4 April 2014

So the cry goes out “Transfer Your Pension Now” to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) before it’s too late.

The Foreign Adviser Network is hard at it trying to capture your attention – for some it will be a good move to go QROPS but for others No! No! No!  STOP!  But for others Go! Go! Go! But which one are you? GO or STOP?

Since the Chancellor’s Budget in March, there have been doom and gloom articles published about QROPS being an 8 year wonder – but why?  Double Tax Agreements and local tax rules haven’t gone away and they haven’t changed and foreign exchange rates haven’t been fixed as far as I know.  

So let’s put things straight, there will still be times when a QROPS is suitable or partially suitable (as there always were).  But it’s going to take much more analysis and research before the financial plan is firmed up to come up with definitive advice.

What appears to be clear is that these seemingly “plucked out of mid-air” changes to UK pensions will almost certainly pull the rug from under those not so ethical “flog a product financial salesmen“

These characters operating outside the UK ply their trade with rarely a whiff of pre-requisite regulatory oversight and / or experience (barely a week in many cases) and / or training. They will sell a QROPS as the only tax and retirement planning option left on earth.  Let’s face it, these desperados are hired on sink-or-swim terms: sell and get paid, but if you don’t sell, you starve and get the boot.

Soon the market will know better and hopefully the product floggers and those who engage these tinkers will be driven out of town

The real big doom and gloom story in the international pension advice world is that pension transfers from the public sector are to cease and that you ‘Must Transfer your Public Sector Final Salary Pension now’. Well, this line or similar is the one being touted around – it has gone global, all too often QROPS advisors are delivering scandalous advice. The truth is that this matter is subject to consultation. In reality, will this happen? Yes it may do.

So what does this mean for you if you are a member or a deferred member of a public sector final salary pension scheme? Must you actually transfer your pension now? Well, no. What is recommended though is that you consider whether or not a pension transfer out of a public sector final salary pension scheme is suitable for you or not. This analysis can only really be completed by a UK-based Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated financial advisor who will analyse your aims and objectives, your future plans, your residency and tax status, your investment risk profile and tolerance to loss, family and health status as well as perform a Transfer Value Analysis (TVAS) calculation to test whether or not a transfer out is right for you.

A UK-regulated pension transfer specialist will always start from the assumption that a transfer out of a final salary pension scheme is the wrong advice and then build a case around their factfinding where a transfer out of a final salary pension scheme is suitable.  

Only after this will an ethical pension transfer specialist recommend a different pension jurisdiction, QROPS or SIPP etc.  As part of this recommendation, where appropriate, they should also recommend a suitable investment / income strategy for your pension funds. Time and time again our advisors at Montfort International come across the same ‘One size Fits All’ QROPS or SIPP approach being recommended by an offshore or non ethical advisor. And, surprise surprise, an offshore bond has been recommended as the investment vehicle. An offshore bond can be a good arrangement in its own right. Is it right for your SIPP or QROPS? Unlikely. There are a limited number of situations where an offshore bond as the investment wrapper may apply, but these are few and far between.

Montfort International is arguably the market and technical leader in pension transfers to QROPS and, since the inception of QROPS having advised numerous clients over the years, we have found an offshore bond investment wrapper inside a QROPS to be the most suitable recommendation a grand total of ZERO times.

Heed our warning. Do not be rushed in to transferring your public sector final salary pension to a different UK pension scheme or QROPS without using the services of an FCA-regulated financial advisor. An FCA-regulated financial advisor, such as Montfort International Ltd, will analyse this for you and only recommend when in your interests, where an unregulated adviser may just steam roller you into transferring your pension to a SIPP or QROPS.

There is a saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Well, if you are not paying a fee for your financial, retirement planning or pension transfer advice, what are you getting? More than likely you will be getting advice that is biased and only in the interest of your advisor’s commission rather than unbiased independent regulated financial advice.

Ensure you only speak with a UK-regulated financial advisor regarding your (potential) pension transfer.

 

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QROPS.CO.UK remains at the forefront of the industry and we have put in place systems and processes to make this happen. Our continual development and our passion for success is underpinned by our length in the industry and our presence at numerous exhibitions and on expert panels.

 

 

What do we offer?

Retirement pension planning for individuals who spend time working overseas is a complex area. Planning for international pensions can be a very tax efficient way of saving for retirement and can provide greater flexibility over UK based pensions, both in terms of investment choice and payment of benefits. Our vast experience has made us one of the most sought after sources of advice on international pensions.

To find out if QROPS or QNUPS (Qualifying Non UK Pension Scheme) is a suitable solution for you, please contact us for a FREE initial assessment. Once we determine if a QROPS or QNUPS is right for your situation, we can produce a independent QROPS or QNUPS report tailored to your personal circumstances.

In addition, we offer International Tax Planning Services to individuals moving to and from the UK, making the entire process of organising your overseas pension as smooth as possible.

 

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