Robert Harris has over 25 years experience working for some of the major financial institutions in the City of London, including 12 years at Citibank where he was a Senior Banker. During his time at Citibank, Robert was responsible for global relationships with important financial institutions and instigated a number of landmark deals.
Robert is a founding partner of Forth Capital and has helped the company become the leading expat financial advisory company in Switzerland.
A regular presenter of the World Business Report on the WRS radio station, Robert has been quoted in the Financial Times and numerous magazine articles.
For the www.knowitall.ch website, Robert invites various members of his team at Forth Capital to contribute blog articles on different financial topics that he thinks will be of interest to our readers.
By Alan Turner, Forth Capital
There are two major changes to UK taxes that will happen in April that are going to significantly affect UK property owners who live abroad.
The first of these is going to see an increase in the stamp duty that is paid by expatriates acquiring a second UK residential property, and the second change is an increase that will affect expats who own UK properties within companies.
I took the time to discuss these with our Head of Tax, Mark Routen, to try and understand what this really means and what can be done to mitigate. This is what I learned:
By Mark Routen, Forth Capital
On the 16th March the Chancellor will deliver the 2016 budget. This will be against a backdrop of uncertainty caused by the EU referendum to be held on the 23rd June and also in a difficult worldwide financial market place, where performance has not been as expected and growth is not reaching the expected levels.
There is still the deficit to be repaid and while the UK economy is doing well the financial markets are suffering and the pound is down.
Against this backdrop the Chancellor has to create a 2016 budget that will help repay the deficit without damaging the shoots of recovery and without alienating a section of the electorate that the remain campaign are relying on to keep the UK in Europe, a campaign of which he and the prime minister are key members of.
By Steve Cashmore, Forth Capital
This is an area that needs so much investigation and a decision cannot be taken lightly. But we live in a different world and the pension regulator has now offered a freedom and choice! The issue is that the new UK pension freedom rules of defined contribution (personal pensions) have not been extended to the defined benefit world (company schemes).
So many factors now need to be considered…. Spouse’s options, Health, Lump Sum Death Benefits, Tax Free Cash (Pension Commencement Lump Sum), Financial Strength and Stability of the Employer, Flexibility of the Income, Inheritance, Investment control, etc etc etc.
Some company pension schemes only offer return of contributions in the event of a member's death before retirement. In my many years as an advisor I have seen many company schemes where this is the case… the worst I have seen was a company scheme that had a value of over £600,000 yet in the event of the members death before retirement his family would receive only return of his contributions approx £65,000 in this case… Explain that to your spouse or to your family!!
By Mark Routen, Forth Capital
Things are changing at HMRC, the changes are happening fast and they are certainly not in favour of the expat community. The Government in the UK inherited a vast black hole in the finances and this needs to be filled. They have approached this by arming HMRC to extract as much tax as possible together with running a very successful PR campaign calling into question the morals of those who act within the law to arrange their taxation affairs in an efficient way. They are trying to be seen as a type of Robin Hood taking from the rich and saving taxes for the poor.
This has been a very effective use of the politics of envy and the man in the street now sees the rich as a fair target. This goes further as to identify the rich - in people’s mind they use buzz words and unfortunately for expats the words Expat and Non Dom figure highly on this list.
The end result of this is that we are seeing creeping legislation, which starts off as a fairly mild restriction of allowances or increase in tax but then creeps up year after year until it becomes a real issue. They are already acting in three areas of attack which affect many expats: –
- Taxation of UK residential property owned by non-residents
- Restriction of pension tax relief and benefits
- Attacks on Non UK Domiciled individuals, both entering and leaving the UK.
By Dr Graham Brown, Forth Capital
The majority of FTSE 100 Company schemes are in deficit, which is where their pension liabilities exceed their assets and it is clear that the employer does not have the means to make up the deficit in the short term. The numbers are startling according to a Financial Times article on September 7th 2015: