Tel: +34 93 665 8596 |

Viewing posts categorised under: International Bank Accounts

Common Reporting Standards

By Derek Winsland
This article is published on: 27th July 2017


Over the last few weeks, I’ve witnessed the application of the Common Reporting Standards initiative in action. Firstly, from my bank HSBC requesting information to be transmitted to the tax authorities both here in France as well as in UK. This week, I received an email from a client who has also received a letter again from HSBC enquiring about his residency.

It’s clear that the sharing of financial information between tax authorities of different countries is now in full swing. Annual reporting by every financial institution into its own tax authority was introduced in January 2016 and I’m seeing more and more examples of this in operation. For the tax authorities, residency is the main focus – where has the individual declared residency, and where are that person’s assets held.

We’re at the stage now where that information is being studied by local tax offices and enquiry letters being sent. But what information is being shared? Overseas bank accounts are the most common example, hence HSBC and others enquiring about an account holder’s residency status. Other examples include investment bonds held overseas, ISA accounts, unit trust and investment trust portfolios, share accounts, premium bonds…. the list goes on.

With investments held outside of an insurance-based investment bond, any change of fund either through switching or closure could be liable to capital gains in the hands of the investor, so your local tax office is sure to be interested in learning about this. Income drawn from certain, non-EU jurisdiction investment bonds are viewed very differently here in France. And remember, ISAs carry no tax advantages here, so any switches, partial encashments, or sales of funds made by a UK financial adviser or investment manager could have repercussions for the investor resident in France.

If you’re tax resident in France, you are obliged to list all overseas investments and accounts on your annual tax declaration; non-disclosure can result in fines ranging from €1,500 per account up to €10,000 depending on where the account is held. These fines are also per year of non-disclosure.

Quite often we see situations where doing nothing has proved to be an expensive mistake so if ever there was a time to get your financial affairs in order, it is now before the Fisc comes calling. If you’re resident in France, your local tax office can look back through previous years as well, so long forgotten ISAs cashed in can potentially appear on its radar.

If you would like information on how best to re-organise your investments to make them tax-compliant, we are staging the latest in our series of popular Tour de Finance events in the Limoux area on Friday 6th October. Open to everyone, the event, held at Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles is now in its ninth year. Always a popular event, you are urged to order tickets well in advance. There will be a series of short presentations during the morning, culminating with lunch and an opportunity to sample the local wines. If you would like to attend, please email me for your tickets, numbers are limited, so I urge you not to delay.

Subjects covered during the morning include:
Financial Markets
Assurance Vie
French Tax Issues
Currency Exchange

If you have personal or financial circumstances that you feel may benefit from a financial planning review, please contact me direct on the number below. You can also contact me by email at or call our office in Limoux to make an appointment. Alternatively, I conduct a drop-in clinic most Fridays (holidays excepting), when you can pop in to speak to me. Our office telephone number is 04 68 31 14 10.

Planning for the yachting season ahead

By Peter Brooke
This article is published on: 22nd February 2016


You spend much of your professional lives working hard for other people; this season I want to challenge you to do one thing for you and your future every month.

MARCH (i.e. now):
Consolidate your bank accounts – you don’t need them all.Have an account in the currency in which you are paid and another in any other currency you regularly use. You don’t, need lots of accounts, but make sure your total balance is below the compensation limits for the jurisdiction in which you hold the account .

Don’t spend money just moving it around, open a currency broker account. If you need to move money from one currency to another, don’t use your bank, your currency broker can save you a small fortune on exchange rates and fees.

Invest in yourself! What are you going to do at the end of the season? Consider now what your next set of exams will be and when you can do them. Put money aside for fees and living costs. Check your visas and passports if you are crossing to the U.S. later in the year. And start a diary (see November…).

This is the really busy time; stop and consider your longer term future. How long do you want to stay in yachting? What do you want to do after yachting?What do you want to get from yachting (personally and financially)?

The season is calming down – are you really covered? Time to check exactly what health insurance you have on board and if there is any accidental injury or even death in service protection for you and your beneficiaries while you work. When you know, tell someone at home so they can claim on your behalf if necessary.

Cash is no longer king. At the end of your season you may have a pot of cash that you can’t get into your bank (due to strict money laundering rules). Negotiate to have tips paid directly with your salary into your bank account, keeping only the petty cash required. Many Captains will do this.

Tax residency is a matter of fact. Get organised and keep a diary of your travels. Yacht crew are “approached” by various tax authorities that believe you might be a resident. It’s not down to them to prove that you are a resident in their country, it’s down to you to prove you’re not. Understand the residency laws of the countries where you are most likely to become a resident, then keep a diary and flight ticket stubs, to support your case.

If you’ll be in the yachting industry for more than two or three years, seriously consider saving for your future, Your friends on land are paying tax and social security, which will give them something at retirement – are you? It’s up to all crew to put something aside (I suggest at least 25 percent of salary) while they’re in the industry to try and secure their financial wellbeing. The million dollar rule – to retire on an income of $/€3,OOO per month in 15 years, you will need approximately $/€1.1million in assets.

Offshore Disclosures Facility

By Peter Brooke
This article is published on: 25th May 2015


This month I had the opportunity to sit down with Patrick Maflin from Marine Accounts for a Q&A session on the Offshore Disclosures Facility.

Patrick, Firstly what is the Offshore Disclosures Facility?
The Offshore Disclosures facility is an amnesty for UK citizens who have undeclared offshore earnings. It is directly aimed at targeting offshore tax evasion. The G20 have now opted similar schemes such as the Offshore Disclosures Program (ODP) in the US & Project Let’s Do It in Australia.

What is offshore evasion?
Offshore evasion is using another jurisdiction’s systems with the objective of evading UK tax. This includes moving, not declaring or hiding (via complex offshore structures) any income, gains or assets out of the site of HMRC.

When does the amnesty end & what happens if I do not declare?
The UK disclosure facility ends on 30th September 2016. Individuals who choose not to declare their earnings can face fines of up to 200% of the tax evaded and possible imprisonment as it is now a criminal offence. Project Let’s Do It in Australia came to an end in December 2014 and the IRS have not stated when ODP will end.

How can I declare my earnings through the facility and what are the benefits?
UK seafarers can declare their earnings under the Seafarers Earnings Deduction (SED) providing that they spend more than 183 days out of the UK and work onboard a ship. If you declare now before becoming subject to investigation you will not face fines and will not have to pay tax on your earnings. However if you owe tax through work days in the UK or not qualifying for the SED exemption you will only pay 10% on top of your tax bill as opposed to 200%.

What happens if HMRC contact me first?
If they do contact you first you are faced with possibility of a tax investigation into your financial affairs and will not qualify for any penalties at the lowest rates and will have to pay the taxes you owe for up to 20 years. You could also face criminal prosecution.

What if I move my funds to the Cayman Islands, surely it is safe there?
The UK signed ten more automatic exchange agreements in 2014 including many of the classic ‘offshore centres’. The new global standard developed by the OECD has been endorsed by the G20 and now 44 jurisdictions in total. This will lead to greater tax transparency and the ability for governments to clamp down on those who evade tax.

What exactly will the new global exchange mean? What type of information will the G20 access?
The 44 jurisdictions are going to share if you have a bank, investment or custodial account and will be able to see your name, address, account number, balance and income.

When I browse the yachting forums I still see crew asking where the best place is to open an account to avoid paying tax! What do you think of this?
It surprises me that people choose to openly broadcast that they are looking to avoid paying tax and that they believe that today with the open exchange of information that this is still possible and the right course of action.

HMRC contacted over 20,000 people in 2013 about their offshore assets. In 2014 offshore banks in the 44 jurisdictions started collecting information about UK & US residents. This information will reach HMRC by the start of 2016.

Are Offshore accounts still permitted under the Offshore Disclosures Facility?
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having offshore accounts & investments as long as you declare the income and gains on your tax return. This is not designed to stop people banking offshore, but to allow individuals to bring their tax affairs up to date if they have worldwide undeclared income. The principle benefits of using an offshore account is currency flexibility.

This article is for information only and should not be considered as advice.

Financial seminar for expats in Catalonia

By Chris Burke
This article is published on: 25th February 2015


The Spectrum IFA Group’s Chris Burke spoke at a recent financial seminar alongside Spanish Lawyer, Nuria Clavera Plana, in Llafranc. The event was attended by 30 people and was followed by a Q&A session and a chance to meet the speakers over coffee.

Chris’s presentation covered:

  • Currency forecast, thoughts and ideas to implement for 2015.
  • UK Government Pensioner Bonds – 2.8%-4% per annum for anyone holding a UK bank account and debit card.
  • UK Pension & QROPS changes – Is your pension being managed effectively and is it in the right place?
  • Spanish Life Assurance Bonds/Investment – potentially Tax efficient, historically good returns (Prudential) and potentially succession planning friendly.

Chris ran through the concept of ‘the magic bank account’ for over 65’s in the UK, and many people were surprised to find out that you do not have to live in the UK to benefit from these – you just need a UK bank account and debit card and can achieve between 2.8% to 4% per annum with the savings also government backed. He discussed predictions and thoughts on currency, which highlighted last year’s most successful currency forecaster, stating that the Euro/Dollar will be at parity at 1-1 by the end of 2015. Still just as unnerving for those living in Spain, was the prediction that the Euro would reach 1.42 by the end of 2015 against the pound, particularly if the EU have to keep printing money to solve the crisis.

The new rules on UK pensions and QROPS were also highlighted. QROPS is a UK pension that has been moved overseas to benefit from EU rules (please note your pension should be evaluated by a qualified pension evaluator before you consider doing this) and although the new UK rules give much more flexibility, everyone acknowledged that hefty tax could have to be paid to access these. Qrops still has benefits over and above leaving your pension in the UK depending upon your situation, and from April 2015 should have nearly all of the benefits a UK pension will be entitled to, and potentially more.

Tax efficiency was perhaps the most popular subject Chris presented on, with most people interested in saving money on taxes both on their savings and with succession planning. In fact, passing on their money tax efficiently was the main interest over coffee after the presentations.

Presentation From Nuria Clavera Plana (Lawyer):

  • New income tax for Catalonia 2015 and what are the exemptions.
  • New Capital gains Tax for 2015 in Catalonia.
  • What assets need reporting.
  • Pension income from sources outside of Spain Amnesty.

Nuria as ever gave a very interesting presentation on what you now have to pay in taxes throughout Catalonia, the reasons why and how this works. By far the most popular conversation was the changes to Inheritance tax rules now in Catalonia, which in essence are the same now for Spanish Nationals and Foreigners residing here. This incorporates a big reduction in tax compared to before. It was also surprisingly good news for those leaving behind assets up to €1,000,000 with potentially limited tax to pay.

There were many questions surrounding what does and doesn’t need reporting for the Modelo 720 overseas asset declaration, ranging from classic cars to items not reported before. This topic always throws up major questions as always!

This year in Spain it is now a requirement to report any overseas pension income you are receiving up until the 30th June 2015. This generally would not have been taxed in most cases in the respective overseas countries due to the amount in question. However this should be reported in Spain and could therefore be subject to Spanish tax laws. It was discussed that this new law has been brought in mainly to find those Spanish Nationals who have been receiving pensions from working abroad previously and have not been declaring them or paying the relevant tax.

Nuria as ever gave everyone detailed analysis on these changes, so everyone left the event with a better knowledge of their own personal situation.

If you would like more information on this or any other questions you may have regarding Tax advice, please do not hesitate to contact Nuria on or Telephone 972305454.

Chris and Nuria would like to thank all the attendees for asking such pertinent questions and joining in, making the event such a success.

Chris will also be presenting at future seminars in the coming months. Please feel free to contact him on or telephone him on 936652828 if you would like to know more about these, or wish to discuss any of the above details.

[nggallery id=35]