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Temporary Annuities in Spain

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Pension Lump Sums, Pensions in Spain, QROPS, Spain, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 19th May 2022

Over the last few years, there have been some well-known IFAs here in Spain advising their clients that they can save up to 88% on their income tax in Spain by stating that their pensions are temporary annuities. In some cases, this has caused serious problems for pensioners. There is no way the Hacienda would offer such benefits unless these annuities were such from outset. It would seem logical if this was to be set up as such from outset, the schemes would have to be domiciled here in Spain for the tax reasons I go on to explain. Similarly, the annuity status could not be applied to foreign pension schemes being exported by expatriates from their previous country of residence when they come to live here.

For example, I have come across clients who have transferred their pension abroad under QROPS rules, they then instruct their trustees to pay them a set income for, say, 5 years. In some cases, the trustees would give them a certificate confirming that this income is a temporary annuity. Ironically this not only potentially makes the trustees as culpable as the pensioner but so too the gestor or accountant drawing up that tax return.

An annuity is something you buy from a financial institution (usually a life assurance company) for a certain sum. In return, the company will pay you an income for life or a fixed period. Once purchased, that money is no longer yours and it is irreversible.

However, the money in a pension scheme (although legally owned by the trustees) is for your benefit in your lifetime and can be passed to your beneficiaries or spouse, depending on the scheme T & Cs. The income can be stopped, restarted, raised, lowered, or even taken in lump sums (again depending on the scheme particulars). The capital remains at your disposal. Therefore it cannot be regarded in any way as an annuity, let alone a temporary one.

QROPS

Those who promote these “loopholes” are tapping into one’s natural desire to lower one’s taxes. They are exploiting genuine tax benefits offered to those who have already paid income tax on their savings with which they purchase an annuity for a fixed period. The special low tax rates which go with these annuities are by way of partial compensation for having your tax-paid capital repaid to you. Whereas pension income is always taxed at your marginal rate, mainly because there is tax relief on monies you put into your pension scheme, with both money purchase and occupational pensions. Furthermore, pension “pots” are invested and will attract, if properly invested, investment growth.

Those companies who advise people to do this and those who file a tax return claiming their pension is an annuity (when it clearly is not) are committing tax fraud. And there are very heavy fines for doing such a thing. A tax audit can go back up to 5 years and the tax shortfalls can involve sizeable sums especially when the fines are included. At pension age, this can be very distressing and a very nasty shock to an elderly person.

Spectrum can help you avoid this situation by reviewing any previous advice given and offering an unbiased opinion. We research our products and taxation thoroughly before advising our clients. If you have any doubts about your pension and the advice you have already received, then please contact me for an initial meeting which carries no fee. We want you to have peace of mind so that you can tell others about us. Spectrum is not in the risk business but very much here to protect your wealth.

Article by Charles Hutchinson

If you are based in the Costa del Sol area you can contact Charles at: charles.hutchinson@spectrum-ifa.com for more information. 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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