Monthly Archives

April 2015

Changes in UK legislation affecting QROPS, former QROPS, and delisted QROPS

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UK pension reforms became law on 6 April 2015.

There are still a number of unanswered questions regarding the impact of the UK changes on overseas pension schemes.  Not least of these are tax implications and expected changes following the temporary reversal of UK policy in respect of the extension of flexible benefits to overseas schemes.

We post updates on the above on a regular basis on our website – www.cgl.gg.

We outline below the current position for our Guernsey and Gibraltar products.

Whilst we do not offer Maltese products, our understanding of their position also follows.

Aurora International Pension Plan/Aurora Libertaï/Aurora Quantum/Aurora Quantum Lite – former QROPS (Guernsey)

  • Guernsey’s local tax legislation is being amended to offer flexibility;
  • Flexibility is expected to be available in the early summer;
  • Flexibility is expected to relate to the original source of funds;
  • Thus, UK source pension funds will receive UK pensions’ flexibilities;
  • Tax on flexible payments may fall due in the UK and/or a Member’s country of residence; specific tax advice is strongly recommended prior to any flexi access;
  • We await the outcome of HMRC’s decision on whether they will remove the temporary suspension for non-European Economic Area QROPS and delisted QROPS;
  • If you are interested in flexible access, it is likely that Guernsey will be the first jurisdiction to be able to offer such access. Whilst this is expected in the early summer 2015, Guernsey already has certain long standing pension flexibilities.
  • It may be necessary to consider each case on its own merits, but Guernsey can already offer flexibilities such as temporary annuities and loans.

Aurora Europa – QROPS (Gibraltar

  • There will be no changes to our Gibraltar Schemes at the current time or until such time as the  temporary reversal of policy in respect of the extension of flexible benefits to overseas schemes is lifted;
  • PCLS is still available up to 30%;
  • No Death Taxes continue to apply;
  • Withholding tax of 2.5% on income withdrawals;
  • Withdrawals continue to be available for Members over 55 years of age, at up to 150% of the prevailing GAD rate.

Malta

Whilst new changes to Maltese legislation have been enacted ,and such legislation will allow similar flexibility as most UK Defined Contribution Schemes and SIPPs, this will only take effect after existing Maltese Schemes are licensed and regulated under this new legislation. This will not be until late 2015.  The minimum age for access to pension income has been increased to age 55, as with all other QROPS jurisdictions, and Malta is also considering reducing the PCLS payments from their current level of 30% to 25%. Withholding tax on pension income payments is payable at 35% unless an effective DTA exists.

This information is provided for general information only.  Concept does not provide financial, legal nor tax advice, and nothing in this document should be construed as such. Concept  shall not be held responsible for any liability or loss arising directly or indirectly from any reliance placed upon the content of this document. Concept recommends that all individuals should seek their own appropriate advice.

 

Code of Good Practice released for Combating Pension Scams

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Code of Good Practice released for Combating Pension Scams, Concept Group in Guernsey provides support to the UK Industry Group who drafted the Code

The Code of Good Practice for Combating Pension Scams was released on 16th March, following calls from the pensions industry for guidance to help share good practice and to help reduce the risk of scams. An Industry Group in the UK, Chaired by Margaret Snowdon OBE, was formed to develop a Code of Good Practice for use by all in the industry.

Margaret Snowdon, Chairman of Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) and Chairman of the Industry Group, said “The Code is a milestone in setting the industry standard due diligence to follow when considering a transfer request. Trustees, providers and administrators want to help prevent scams that can lead to the loss of members’ benefits and have felt caught between the conflicting demands of regulation.  The Code, being based on principles supported by practical guidance should help everyone take reasonable action to protect members and themselves.”

Guernsey headquartered Concept Group has actively engaged over the past twelve months with the UK Industry Group, who wrote the Code of Good Practice for Combating Pension Scams, to provide some unique overseas expertise in regards to the combating pension scams.

Margaret Snowdon added “the fact that so many organisations, including those who advise on SIPPs, SSASs and QROPS willingly gave their help is very encouraging for member protection.  It is also good news that the various regulators welcome the Code and were helpful in the long process to get us to publication.”

The Code has been widely welcomed by organisations such as the Association of Member Directed Pension Schemes, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue & Customs, the Pensions Advisory Service and the UK Pensions Regulator.

The Code of Good Practice can be viewed here: http://www.combatingpensionscams.org.uk/

Roger Berry, Managing Director of the Concept Group, commented “from the moment we heard about the planned development of a Code of Good Practice for combating pension liberation and other scams, we were extremely supportive and wanted to assist where we could. Priding ourselves on prudence and caution, we are always proactive in efforts to prevent such pension scams. We made contact with Margaret Snowdon, Chairman of the Industry Group, and offered our assistance in the review process, to provide some expert insight from an overseas provider of bona fide non-UK pension arrangements. This was gratefully accepted and over the course of the past twelve months, we have provided input into various drafts of the Code and we also fully support the principles of the Code.”

Roger Berry added that “to be included as one of the organisations involved in the development of this Code is something we are extremely proud of, when you see the calibre of organisations involved and the widespread support from relevant industry organisations. We were delighted to be consulted in the development stages and will continue our close association with the Industry Group.  We hope it will also help to demonstrate our continued effort and stance towards combating pension scams, both in the UK and internationally. ”